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O'Brien, Kavanagh appeal allowed at VCAT
17 Mar 2017 | By Andrew Eddy - 
The VCAT cobalt appeals of Flemington trainers Danny O'Brien and Mark Kavanagh have been allowed with the pair both free to continue their training careers.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal president Justice Greg Garde announced his decision shortly before 10am on Friday, confirming that the earlier Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board orders of four- and three-year disqualifications respectively were to be set aside.

Justice Garde, who originally opened the hearing on August 1, handed down a 115-page judgement, which included his findings that:

Neither Kavanagh nor O'Brien caused their vet Dr Tom Brennan to administer the substance or were aware of his actions nor made insufficient enquiries as to the substances; and

The tribunal found that over the period from April 2014 to August 2015, the procedure for testing for cobalt by Racing Victoria Ltd had departed from the requirements set out in AR 178D. The tests were therefore found to be inadmissible.

It is unknown yet whether Racing Victoria will pursue a further legal avenue of appealing the decision to the Court Of Appeal.

Facing the waiting media after the decision was announced, O'Brien went on the attack.

"Obviously this has been a long process, it's been over 26 months since test results came back," O'Brien said.

"When they came back both Mark and I were adamant that we had done nothing wrong.

"To stand here today 26 months later and have Justice Garde affirm, he's been very clear that neither Mark or I had any intention of cheating or trying to break any rules of racing, and that we are completely innocent of all charges.

"And he has also thrown a light on the behaviour of Racing Victoria, the breaches of the rules that they in fact have engineered throughout this process, and that's probably been the most disappointing thing.

"The bullying and vilification of both Mark and I and our families by Terry Bailey and his integrity department has been quite incredible.

"Midway through this they brought on a show-cause hearing to try and take our licences away before any charges had been heard.

"We were then subjected to a show trial at the RAD Board where we were not even allowed to cross examine a witness."

O'Brien continued: "It's time that (Racing Minister) Martin Pakula took a hard look at what is going on in the racing industry in this state.

"At the moment we have a head of integrity, Terry Bailey, who is a man who tells lies. He lies to his CEO, and his chairman.

"When confronted about putting a spy in Peter Moody's stable, he lied to the racing public in December of 2014 when he informed them that the previous Spring Carnival had been the cleanest ever, when he was well aware of these test results.

"And he has come along here on oath and told these mistruths to his honour Justice Garde.

"Now when it became acceptable in racing in Victoria for stewards to behave like that, I do not know.

"But it is time for Mr Pakula to stop talking and start getting involved in getting racing back on track in this state to the position of pre-eminence it once enjoyed."

Asked whether he and Kavanagh will now take legal action, O'Brien said it was too early to comment.

"We are going to read the judgment, this will take a little while," he said.

"The summary from Garde was very strong that we were completely innocent and that Racing Victoria have got issues.

"Once we understand the ins and outs of it, we will be reserving all our rights."


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