Vet Adam Matthews launches Supreme Court action against Racing NSW over cobalt claims
By: Adam Pengilly
The vet allegedly at the centre of the cobalt crisis gripping Australian racing is set for a Supreme Court showdown with Racing NSW to prevent the governing body from publicising any potential charges against him.
A matter involving Dr Adam Matthews, the former Flemington Equine vet, was mentioned in the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday in another twist to the cobalt saga.
The vet’s lawyer Nicole Spicer declined to comment on the matter, but Fairfax Media understands Matthews is seeking to prevent stewards releasing any charges possibly brought against him into the public domain.
No orders were made on Tuesday when it was mentioned in the Supreme Court and the case was stood over until Friday.
Racing NSW also refused to comment when contacted on the matter.
Matthews has been considered a person of interest by Racing NSW stewards after they launched the ongoing inquiry into Sam Kavanagh’s Midsummer Sun returning an elevated level of caffeine and cobalt after his successful Gosford Gold Cup defence in January.
Racing NSW’s chief steward Ray Murrihy said the vet, who has been in Europe, was “almost impossible to contact” since launching the probe earlier this year, but eventually took evidence from Matthews via phone from Greece in early August.
Matthews denied to stewards having any involvement in organising raceday treatments on Kavanagh-trained horses, but conceded he supplied the young trainer with 10 yoghurt drenches for $750 late last year.
Much of Matthews’ evidence was heard in camera when he was quizzed about his betting accounts – including one in his wife’s name.
The Supreme Court action is another layer to the complex cobalt web stewards have been trying to untangle in NSW as they also prepare for appeals from banned identities in the coming months.
Matthews’ former Flemington Equine boss Dr Tom Brennan was disqualified for six years last week after Racing NSW stewards handed down penalties in the long-running cobalt saga. He plans to appeal the decision.
Brennan pleaded guilty to collecting two $1000 payments for supplying two bottles of “vitamin complex”, later found to have a level of cobalt up to 175 times of that of registered vitamin products, to persons connected with Sam Kavanagh.
Brennan alleges Matthews gave him the bottles, but denies knowing its exact contents.
He also admitted to stewards the money was passed on to Matthews and was told they didn’t contain any prohibited substances when he questioned the vet about their contents.
Matthews has also strenuously denied any wrongdoing.
Racing NSW stewards found Brennan guilty on 12 charges relating to cobalt, including lying at the original inquiry.
Sam Kavanagh was banned for nine years and three months – as well as being hit with a $3000 fine – while harness racing identity John Camilleri (four-and-a-half years) and disqualified trotting trainer Mitch Butterfield (one year and nine months) were also sanctioned for their role in drenching Kavanagh-trained horses.
Kavanagh will appeal his disqualification.
Brennan is also the subject of 20 stewards charges in Victoria in relation to horses under the care of Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh, Sam’s father, returning elevated levels of cobalt last spring.
Champion Victorian trainer Peter Moody, the conditioner of unbeaten mare Black Caviar, and the group 1-winning partnership of Lee and Shannon Hope also face Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board hearings in Victoria over cobalt positives.