By: Andrew Eddy

The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission has withdrawn appeals against two trainers over cobalt offences but denied it had done so due to recent decisions in other state jurisdictions.

QRIC had been appealing the decision to clear trainers Rochelle Smith and Lynn Patton, after they had been charged with presenting their horses to race with cobalt levels in excess of the allowed threshold.

Commissioner Ross Barnett explained that the two cases that occurred prior to the establishment of the Commission, in July last year, were originally determined by the former Racing Disciplinary Board and initially appealed by Racing Queensland (RQ).

“RQ didn’t agree with the board’s decision to clear the trainers and appealed, and while the appeal was waiting to be heard it subsequently became QRIC’s responsibility,” Barnett said in a statement.

The decision to drop the appeal to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal comes just a month after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal dismissed cobalt charges against Flemington trainers Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh but Barnett said no link should be drawn.

“This decision to withdraw has been taken on consideration of circumstances particular to these two cases and is not as a result of recent decisions in other jurisdictions clearing trainers accused of exceeding cobalt levels,” he said.

Barnett continued: “In the cases dating back to 2015, positive cobalt tests were found in the race-day samples of horses brought to race by registered trainers Rochelle Smith and Lynn Patton.

“Both trainers have had a stay throughout the proceedings and have been able to continue racing.

“A fresh legal review of both matters has led to the Commission deciding it was not in the public interest to continue with the appeal and both Racing Disciplinary Board decisions will stand.”

The Commissioner said while these two cobalt matters have been withdrawn, the decision had no impact on others currently before QCAT, that these and all future cases would be considered on their merits.