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Cobalt ban has scarred people: lawyer

An “amazing” number of people have been scarred thanks to a vet who gave a substance containing cobalt to two trainers’ horses, their lawyer says.

Trainers Mark Kavanagh and Danny O’Brien are fighting their disqualifications in a Victorian tribunal after five horses returned positive results for cobalt.

They blame vet Dr Tom Brennan for giving the horses the substance without their knowledge.

“The number of people who have been scarred by this… has been amazing, and much of it is down to Brennan,” the pair’s lawyer Damian Sheales said on Friday.

“Brennan is such a liar.”

Brennan originally kept silent about giving the horses a substance called vitamin complex in drips in their stables.

He changed his evidence when a bottle labelled vitamin complex was found in Kavanagh’s trainer-son Sam’s possession in Sydney.

Sam Kavanagh, who is appealing his disqualification in NSW to the Racing Appeals Tribunal, named Brennan as the source of the bottle.

The substance was found to contain high levels of cobalt but Brennan denies knowing it was a component of the product.

Brennan later told the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal that Kavanagh and O’Brien knew he was adding the vitamin complex to drips and they each paid $3000 for three bottles of it.

The pair deny it, and their lawyer Damian Sheales questioned Brennan’s truthfulness.

Sheales also said at least in O’Brien’s case he had no financial need to dope his horses.

“It had been the most (financially) successful period he had ever enjoyed,” he said.

Sheales argued elevated cobalt levels could be found in the horses who got regular, everyday horse supplements in the amounts approved by Racing Victoria.

He said the evidence showed Racing Victoria knew this, and there had been verbal conversations about banning some of the products for that reason.

Kavanagh was disqualified for three years and O’Brien for four years, but they continue to train under a stay of proceedings pending the outcome of the VCAT appeal.

Kavanagh’s horse Shocking won the Melbourne Cup in 2009.

After 23 days of evidence, the final closing submissions are being heard on Friday in the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal.

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