Thoroughbred Cobalt Saga Competes with Essendon Bombers for Longevity

If you can’t beat ‘em, sue ‘em.

That is the modern equivalent of the old adage about joining those who were defeat resistant and it seems to be the operating principle behind the move by disgraced trainers Mark Kavanagh and Danny O’Brien, who propose to seek $10 million in damages from the Flemington Equine Centre.

The story of the two trainers’ involvement in the cobalt saga is long and sordid, but ultimately, the bans imposed on the two trainers were vacated by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), which ruled that neither trainer had knowledge of their horses being enhanced by the horses’ veterinarian.

Kavanagh was fine $4000 and O’Brien $8000, a modest sum, it would seem, but their feeling were hurt and their reputations damaged.

The owners of expensive thoroughbred racehorses take a jaundiced view of a trainer basically saying that he or she did not know what was going on.

Kavanagh and O’Brien might seek a similar legal remedy against Racing Victoria, so the ante could be upped to $20 million. We all know where this is headed. Bring on the lawyers, there ought to be lawyers, as Barbara Streisand might have sung if her song were about lawyers, rather than clowns.

The VCAT has ordered that five horses, four of O’Brien’s and one of Kavanagh’s be disqualified from the races in which they were found to have cobalt present in amounts above the limit.

The kicker?

None of the five races, all in 2014, was of any significance, although four of them resulted in either a win or a second placing for the two trainers’ horses.

O’Brien’s Caravan Rolls On placed eighth in the Group 3 Lexus Stakes in November of 2014. That is eighth out of 10. The horse would have received $6000 for that result and it seems that no amount of cobalt, or having Craig Williams for his rider, would have made much impact.

Cobalt supposedly helps a horse recover more quickly from the effort of training and racing, but since few horses run more than twice in one month, it is hard to see cobalt as providing a worthwhile risk/reward benefit.

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