O’Brien wants cobalt rule improved by Racing Victoria

One of the trainers at the forefront of the cobalt positive-tests controversy says a resolution is likely in the next seven days and, while it would clear those thrust in the spotlight earlier this week, the collateral damage to them and racing has been done.

Danny O’Brien, who had three horses test positive to elevated readings of the potentially dangerous performance-enhancement supplement during the spring, fired a broadside at Racing Victoria for “another own goal that certainly should have been avoided’’.

“I won’t be satisfied until [Racing Victoria] get on the front foot and explain the whole situation,’’ O’Brien said..

“We’re in the middle of helping them learn about it, because they don’t know much about it and we are hoping to resolve this amicably this week.

“I think they have the best intentions. They saw what they thought was a problem and they certainly tried to get on the front foot about it,’’ he said on Melbourne sports radio station SEN.

“It wasn’t obviously thought through from A to Z as to how racehorses are prepared and what the effects of some normal race day, or not race-day but race-week, pre-race treatment could have on a cobalt level.’’

O’Brien said he was shocked when the stewards told of the results of the tests on Wednesday morning. After a review of routines, the trainer now has got a fair idea now what happened.

“We have done nothing differently to what we have done for a number of years,” O’Brien said

“It doesn’t appear that this rule has been terribly well thought out or researched as to what normal treatments can have an effect on this threshold.’’

Trainers Peter Moody and Mark Kavanagh were notified that each had a positive to cobalt earlier this week, but O’Brien grouped them with him as having done nothing wrong.

“I can assure you and your listeners that certainly myself, Mark Kavanagh and Peter Moody have done absolutely nothing wrong,’’’ he said.

“There has been no cobalt administered in any way, shape or form to any of our horses and we’re expecting a quick resolution of this, hopefully in the next few days.

“I am very frustrated and I am looking forward, hopefully, to these guys getting themselves sorted out and getting this explained to everyone next week,’’ O’Brien said..

“As far as I know, the only other place in the world that has a threshold level is Hong Kong and we’ve done a lot of discussions with them this week.

“They ban within seven days pre-race treatments that are completely legal down here,’’ he said.

“We’ve always given drips to horses. We’ve always given certain supplements to horses to make sure they race at their best and that they recover quickly as well.

“There is nothing sinister that has gone on with these horses and the numbers on the tests certainly show that,’’ he said.

“The rule was brought in to try and stop what they believed was starting to take place in racing, where horses were being dosed up with this cobalt chloride to improve their performance.

“And the levels that comeback on horses that have that sort of obvious cheating are through the roof on this,’’ the trainer explained.

“Our horses are very marginally over a threshold that appears to have happened over a period of time on a build of their normal race-day supplements and treatments.

“And, unfortunately, they did not think this rule through. I think NSW had a fair idea that there was going to be issues and they were very loath to bring it in.

‘’We’ve rushed into it and you’ve seen some massive collateral damage for racing and, in particular, for Peter, Mark and myself this week … we have had a week that none of us deserve.’’

O’Brien and Kavanagh have the same vet and O’Brien showered him with praise.

“The treatment that my horses have are done by my vet and on his advice and he is one of the most reputable vets in the industry, Tom Brennan.

“He brought cobalt as an issue to the attention of Racing Victoria stewards. Now every treatment that’s been done of my horse and Mark Kavanagh’s horse is done by Tom.

“He would never do anything that is outside the rules of racing.’’

Story by Brendan Cormick, to view The Australian wesbite click here