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QUEENSLAND racing’s long- running cobalt scandal is set to resume next month with four harness racing trainers and at least one thoroughbred trainer set to face stewards inquiries over positive tests. Racing Queensland’s chief harness racing steward David Farquharson confirmed Darrel Graham, Darren Weeks, Paul McGregor and Neale Scott will all face inquiries next month after horses in their care returned positives to cobalt last year. Thoroughbred trainer Lynn Paton has also been informed she is likely to face an inquiry next month but Toowoomba trainer Rochelle Smith is yet to be notified of any progression with her case. Movement on most of the cases comes after months of no action as Racing Queensland waited on legal advice before progressing with the cases. Farquharson said yesterday Racing Queensland were now comfortable with proceeding with the cases. “There was just some issues in regards to the Racing Act and also the way that we test samples and the way we do things,” Farquharson said. “We’ve been mindful of that and we’ve worked through all those issues so that doesn’t occur again. We are very confident now progressing forward with these cobalts that we are complying with the rules.” A host of Queensland thoroughbred and harness trainers had bans overturned last year due to a legal loophole in the Racing Act. By Brad Davidson Reprinted with permission of the Gold Coast Bulletin  

Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) Stewards concluded an Inquiry yesterday into a report received from the Australian Government National Measurement Institute that Cobalt above the threshold was detected in a post race urine sample taken from MISTER BELLISIMO following its win in race 6, the CONWAY PRINTERS ENCOURAGEMENT STAKES (1770 metres) conducted at Albury on 10 July 2015. The “B” sample and associated control sample were confirmed by the ChemCentre in Western Australia. Ms Mary-Jane Mifsud pleaded guilty to a charge pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule 190 (1), (2) and (4) in that she did present MISTER BELLISIMO to race at Albury on 10 July 2015, not free of a prohibited substance. Ms Mifsud was disqualified for a period of 7 years 6 months in respect of the charge under Rule 190 (1), (2) & (4) to commence from 6 October 2015, the date upon which she was stood down. In considering penalty Stewards were mindful of the following; This was Ms Mifsud’s 2nd offence for Rule 190 breaches, That Cobalt is deemed a Class 1 substance under the HRNSW Penalty Guidelines, The level recorded being 260 ug/L Ms Mifsud’s guilty plea, licence history and other personal subjective facts. Ms Mifsud was informed of her right to appeal this decision.           Acting under the provisions of Rule 195, MISTER BELLISIMO was disqualified from the abovementioned race. Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 31 racing clubs across the State.  HRNSW is headed by an industry-appointed Board of Directors and is independent of Government. Reid Sanders    

RWWA Stewards were advised by the ChemCentre in Perth on 30 November 2015, that cobalt at a concentration in excess of 200 micrograms per litre, being the threshold prescribed in the Harness Rules of Racing (HRR), has been detected in a urine sample taken from ANOTHER VINNIE at Gloucester Park on 30 October 2015 after it had competed in and won Race 7. This finding has been verified by the Racing Analytical Services Laboratory (RASL). Upon notification of this irregularity by the ChemCentre, Stewards directed pursuant the Rules of Racing that all horses trained by Mr Coulson be withdrawn and barred from racing until such time as the investigations and inquiry are completed, unless otherwise directed by the Stewards. Further acting under Harness Rule 183 (d) the Stewards also directed that all licences held by Mr Coulson with RWWA be suspended forthwith pending the outcome of the Stewards inquiry. As part of investigations, Stewards have directed that the ChemCentre undertake further screening in relation to this substance from other available samples taken from Mr Coulson’s horses. The ChemCentre has now reported further irregularities in relation to cobalt from the following samples so analysed: 11th July 2015: NOT SMALL - Bunbury Race 2 24th July 2015: ANOTHER VINNIE - Gloucester Park Race 7 1st August 2015: ANOTHER VINNIE - Bunbury Race 6 The respective referee and control samples have been dispatched to the Racing Analytical Services Ltd (Vic) for analysis, following which a date and time for the Stewards inquiry in relation to these matters will be confirmed. RWWA Stewards Enquiry

Ryal Bush harness racing horseman Shane Walkinshaw would love to turn the page and put the last few months behind him but at the moment he is stuck in limbo as the wheels of justice turn incredibly slowly. Ever since he got a knock on the door from Barry Kitto, the racecourse inspector that the five year old Julius Caesar gelding he trains, Not Bad had returned a very large positive to Cobalt, Shane has been under the spotlight for being the first New Zealand harness racing trainer to be charged with the use of Cobalt. At first Shane thought it must be an error with the testing or the samples but it quickly became apparent to him that the results were correct and worse still they had come from Not Bad. Shane is known for not having a vet to his small team unless it is absolutely essential and for keeping impeccable records and when Barry Kitto inspected the stables he remarked to Shane that it was one of the most compliant stables they had ever inspected. Shane knew he hadn't done anything wrong so he set out to prove to the Racing Integrity Unit that he was innocent of any deliberate administration. It wasn't long before Shane came across the culprit for the massive cobalt highs that his horses were returning. The one additive that Shane regularly gave his horses who were in work was a blood sachet. " I had brought them off Farmlands for years but when I went in in September they were temporarily out of stock but suggested a blood booster they had there would do the same job." "It was the Equin Blood Booster made by McMillians and after talking to them at length, it seemed perfect for what I wanted." " The label said there was a small amount of Cobalt in the product but it was well within the 200 limit and there was no with holding time on its use according to the label." " To make matters worse Not Bad was one of those rare horses that had a high Cobalt reading even when he was out of work." " They tested him and his resting level was 85 which took the RIU back a bit." "I sent away two samples of the product away to be tested to different laboratories and the RIU sent one away to be tested." " One of my samples came back 355 times over the legal limit while the RIU sample was 190 times over the legal Cobalt limit." "Once I had those results, I thought the RIU in conjunction with Harness Racing New Zealand would publicise the fact that the blood booster was potentially a major problem as I was aware that there were other trainers who had brought the product but todate there has been a deathly silence," Shane said. As for any progress on his case, Shane has heard nothing from the RIU about a possible hearing date. " It is just dragging on and on and the longer it does that, the more damage it is doing to my reputation." " I want the facts out there so people can see that see that I didn't give Cobalt to my horses deliberately," Shane said. The delay seems hard to justify at this point with all parties agreed on the facts of the case. The case should be dealt with urgently and it is time for the RIU and the JCA to get on with it. Harnesslink Media

Courtesy of last week’s dramatic cobalt hearing in Australia before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board, a grotesque portrait now exists of handsome young horse vet Adam Matthews. That portrait might either be an accurate depiction or a portrait of convenience as drawn by his ex-colleague Tom Brennan, who portrayed Matthews as a deeply troubled renegade, a pathological liar and a gambling addict whose cobalt concoctions have already caused chaos and will soon cause more. It is likely the board will on Friday find Mark Kavanagh, Danny O’Brien and Brennan guilty of administering a prohibited substance, cobalt, to horses trained by Kavanagh and O’Brien. The trio will learn their fate, years on the sidelines if found guilty, in coming days. Final submissions are on Friday. Brennan’s evidence to the board was that Matthews, a former burly country footballer, mate and semi-trusted colleague at the Flemington Equine Clinic, was running his own race. Matthews denies Brennan’s allegations, calling him a “liar and unreliable witness.’’ Brennan says Matthews, whom he once “loved like a brother’’ was the architect and that he, O’Brien and Kavanagh are hapless victims who used Matthews’ “vitamin complex’’ under assurance it was “sweet”. Brennan told the board of Matthews’ alleged underworld connections via the harness racing industry, his peddling of potions Matthews had claimed were full of vitamins sourced from “Canada” and his spiralling mental state and betting fortunes. To read the full article written by Matt Stewart on this intriguing case in The Herald Sun this morning just click here

Dr. James Robertson, the Ohio State Racing Commission's (OSRC) consulting veterinarian, announced at the OSRC monthly meeting on Nov. 18 that the first phase of the cobalt pilot study being conducted at The Ohio State University is complete. "A range of doses of intravenous cobalt chloride were administered to five healthy horses at weekly intervals," Dr. Robertson offered. "Blood and urine samples were taken for analysis and will continue to be taken in weeks to follow." The OSRC has partnered with veterinary clinicians and scientists from The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Veterinary Medicine and the Ohio Department of Agriculture Analytical Toxicology Laboratory (ATL) in a comprehensive research study, which focuses on what cobalt does to a horse's system and its effects on racehorses. "Intravenous cobalt chloride, especially at the higher dosage levels, produced a rapid onset of clinical signs and had detrimental effects on a number of body systems including the cardiovascular system (hypertension, arrhythmias and tachycardia) and the renal system (bloody urine)," Dr. Robertson revealed. "These effects appeared to be transient," he continued. "Sample analysis and data collation will take place over the next few months." Kimberly A. Rinker  

As racing steward Terry Bailey stumbled on to his nature strip, clutching a tribal carving for ­defence seconds after gunfire peppered his suburban family home, he confronted two new realities. His world as sheriff of the track had changed forever: criminal elements had taken the fight straight to his doorstep only days before the Melbourne Cup. His second thought provided little comfort: the shooter could be anyone among a bulging Rolodex of enemies the 48-year-old chief steward had accumulated during a meteoric rise from Rockhampton racetrack to the hallowed turf of Flemington. Among the beaming celebrities and corporate suits in the luxurious marquees of the Birdcage from today, the party will barely miss a beat: DJs, champagne, fashion and some stunning feats of equine athleticism. But the racing industry — and its top cop — have been blasted into a new and terrifying era. Bailey speaks with a slow, nasal drawl that betrays his humble ­origins as the son of a cop who grew up in the backblocks of Queensland and NSW. But, up close, his eyes twinkle with a raw intelligence that smart folk quickly detect. John “The Sheriff” Schreck, perhaps the most famous steward in Australian turf history, saw that glimmer in Bailey’s eye and plucked him from obscurity at Rockhampton and put him on the path to the big league. “I first met him when he was still at school and he was working as a gofer on the track at Rockhampton — all he ever wanted to do was be involved in the administration of racing,’’ he tells The Weekend Australian in his first ­extended interview since the shooting. “His work ethic was quite outstanding and his common sense.” Today the stakes are astronomically higher, the villains smarter and far more ruthless, but Bailey hasn’t lost his laconic bush sense of humour. “I don’t have any other interests in life so, I presume, this is the common denominator,’’ he said the morning after an unknown enemy had pumped six rounds from a semi-automatic weapon into the front door of his suburban Melbourne house. “If they want to find you, they’ll find you.” Now, as the $16 billion racing industry begins its biggest week of the year, with the eyes of the racing world fixed on Melbourne, he and his family (a wife and two teen daughters he “idolises”) are living out of a safe house with a security detail attached to them 24/7. The attack was written up this week as the moment that racing lost its innocence, a description that didn’t pass the laugh test even for those who love the so-called sport of kings. “Don’t they remember (gangster) Tony Mokbel betting up a storm? Or (a certain jockey) taking bungs? Or the Smoking Aces (race-fixing) case? Or the cobalt scandal,’’ one world-weary racing fan mused. But Bailey’s mentor Schreck, who was the Australian Jockey Club’s chief steward for 15 years and did stints in senior roles in Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau, believes the attack on his friend and protege marks a significant new low and racing needs to recognise it. “It’s a bloody awful thing and it’s done untold damage to horse racing in this country,’’ he said. “He (Bailey) would be terribly disturbed about it and worried for his family. In the future, when Terry Bailey moves back home I would expect he will have CCTV throughout the house. I never thought I would see those days. It’s just gangster stuff, isn’t it?” Gunshots flying into the home of the industry’s top cop is undoubtedly a new low, but villains have always lurked in the shadows of horse racing. There was the Fine Cotton scandal in the 1980s, ­George Freeman roaming Sydney tracks before that — the links even go back to the days of John Wren, depicted in Frank Hardy’s Power Without Glory. In more recent times, there has also been the unsolved execution-style murder of horse trainer Les Samba, gunned down on a Melbourne street in 2011. The jailed drug lord Tony Mokbel was a horse owner and reputedly still punts from his maximum-security prison, having led the so-called Tracksuit Gang in the 1980s and 90s, trading words and tips at racecourses across Australia. His brother Horty Mokbel was banned from tracks in 2004. Mick Gatto, who shot dead gangland killer Andrew “Benji’’ Veniamin more than a decade ago but beat a murder charge, is also now banned from racetracks and Crown casino. Carl Williams, the murderer who was killed in jail, was at the epicentre of Melbourne’s gangland war. He loved a punt as well. As did ­Alphonse Gangitano, once the public but violent face of the Carlton Crew. His interest in horse racing and protection rackets ended with his death in 1998 at the hands of — police believe — Jason Moran. The Morans had close links with racing and Jason Moran was accused of triggering the underworld war that killed dozens. He, too, is no longer with us. Beyond the glittering success of the Flemington carnival, racing has for years been locked in a struggle to expel criminal elements, with Bailey at the vanguard. Pretty much ever since he was lured from the Gold Coast to clean up harness racing in Vic­toria, he has had a tiger by the tail. Bailey soon unearthed a race-fixing scandal involving the use of a drug known as Blue Magic. In a move that foreshadowed his ­aggressive style, he liaised closely with police and used covert surveillance to build a case that culminated in raids in Australia and New Zealand that would smash a crime syndicate. He parlayed that success into a shift into thoroughbreds — the main game — where he became one of the youngest chief stewards in Victorian history, replacing stalwart Des Gleeson. As Bailey drove a more aggressive enforcement culture, that Rolodex of enemies continued to grow. His detractors accuse him of the law enforcement equivalent of “managing up” — kicking the shit out of industry participants to garner publicity and to further his own career. He tangled with talented but troubled jockey Danny Nikolic, pursuing the hoop unsuccessfully over the so-called Betfair scandal and then the Smoking Aces race-fixing probe. Nikolic was cleared on both, but it was the start of a bloody war of attrition between the steward and jockey that would ultimately see Bailey get his man following a clash outside the steward’s tower in which Nikolic is alleged to have said: “We’ve all got families, c---, and we know where yours live ...” Nikolic, who was banned for two years, denied making the comment and was not commenting on this week’s incident. Bailey has been unrelenting in driving higher integrity standards, pushing for covert surveillance of stables and demanding trainers give his officials keys to their stable doors and even seeking to implant a spy in one stable. He found himself at the centre of the most high-profile drug case in the sport’s recent history when big-name trainers Peter Moody, Mark Kavanagh and Danny O’Brien were charged over positive swabs for cobalt returned by horses in their care. The cases continue to grind on, further damaging the sport’s image as ever darker secrets emerge, such as the reported links between a vet involved in supplying cobalt and organised criminals with ties to the harness racing world. It is true that racing has taken big strides towards a far more ruthless enforcement culture, introducing tough drug standards and investing in testing laboratories that keep officials close on the heels of biochemists. Victoria’s Racing Integrity Commissioner, Sal Perna, says on top of sophisticated race-day betting analysis teams, racing now has its own compliance and audit squads. “These are guys who are jumping the fences of trainers’ properties and checking the stables and drug testing,’’ he said. “Integrity has become much (more) important. Racing’s success is based on public confidence. If the public don’t have confidence in integrity, they won’t bet, then there’s less money coming in.” Racing Australia chief executive Peter McGauran says the brazen gun attack is a wake-up call for the federal government, which must let the industry’s integrity bodies have better access to phone call and intercept data to protect the sport from organised crime. “If there are criminal elements capable of that here you can only imagine what those associated with illegal Asian bookmaking are capable of,” he said. Racing commentator Richard Freedman, the brother of Melbourne Cup winning trainers Lee and Anthony Freedman, says the attack on Bailey comes at a bad time for the sport but he doesn’t believe it will have a lasting negative effect. “I don’t want to sound blase about what happened to Terry because it’s appalling, but you have to take the long view — in the long term, the sport will be better.” Freedman agrees that racing is suffering from “the Tour de France syndrome”. “If you attempt to tackle cheats in your sport, you will expose yourself to claims your sport is full of cheats, because you will find them,’’ he said.   By Rick Wallace   Reprinted with permission of The Australian.com.au site

Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) yesterday conducted an inquiry into a report received from the Australian Government National Measurement Institute that Cobalt above the threshold was detected in a post race urine sample taken from MARION KEISKER NZ following its win in race 3, the ARTHUR J GALLAGHER PACE (1720 metres) conducted at Dubbo on 17 May 2015. Mr Ron Lloyd appeared at the inquiry. Evidence including the Reports of Analysis was presented to the Inquiry. Evidence was also taken from Mr Lloyd regarding the training of MARION KEISKER NZ, his husbandry practices and circumstances preceding the race. Evidence was also presented to the Inquiry by HRNSW Regulatory Veterinarian Dr Don Colantonio, Mr John Palmer and Mr Joshua Willick. Mr Lloyd was issued with a charge pursuant to Rule 190 (1), (2) & (4) for presenting MARION KEISKER NZ to race not free of a prohibited substance. He pleaded guilty to that charge. In addition, Mr Lloyd was issued with a charge pursuant to Rule 190B for failing at all times to keep and maintain a log book. He pleaded guilty to that charge. Mr Lloyd was disqualified for a period of 11 years 3 months to commence from 7 August 2015 the date upon which he was stood down. In relation to the charge pursuant to Rule 190B, Mr Lloyd was fined the amount of $200. In considering penalty Stewards were mindful of the following; This was Mr Lloyd’s 3rd offence for a Prohibited Substance; Class 1 Prohibited Substance under the HRNSW Penalty Guidelines; Level of substance detected (780 ug/L); Mr Lloyd’s licence history and other personal subjective facts.            Acting under the provisions of Rule 195, MARION KEISKER NZ was disqualified from the abovementioned race. Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 31 racing clubs across the State. HRNSW is headed by an industry-appointed Board of Directors and is independent of Government. Reid Sanders

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. To read the full article written by Adam Pengilly in the Sydney Morning Herald click on this link.  

The Ohio State Racing Commission (OSRC) heard an update on the status of the cobalt study being conducted by the OSCR, The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Veterinary Medicine, and the Ohio Department of Agriculture's (ODA) Analytical Toxicology Laboratory (ATL), at its monthly meeting at 77 S. High St., Columbus, Ohio on Aug. 25. Dr. James Robertson, OSRC consulting veterinarian, offered comments and insight on the OSRC-funded Cobalt research. "The Ohio State University has acquired five Standardbred horses for the pilot study and they are currently in a routine quarantine," Dr. Robertson explained. "Once that is completed, the study will begin and take about eight weeks to complete." Dr. Robertson stated that the goals for this pilot study are as follows: one, to investigate the pharmacology of different doses of IV cobalt chloride on healthy horses; two, to associate cobalt doses with blood and urinary cobalt concentrations over time; and three, to determine how cobalt chloride affects various body systems (cardiovascular, respiratory, muscular and hematopoietic) When OSRC Chairman Robert K. Schmitz asked about the recently announced United States Trotting Association (USTA)-funded cobalt study, Dr. Robertson first responded that it was regrettable that the research data of the previous USTA-funded Cobalt study in 2014 was never published or made available for peer review. "Based on the dose-response data collected from the pilot study, we intend to do a series of larger studies to examine all aspects of the effects of cobalt in the horse, including its effects on performance," said Dr. Robertson. "The OSRC, OSU and ATL have the financial, physical and intellectual resources to plan and execute the most comprehensive series of cobalt studies to date. The USTA announcement that they will fund a study to evaluate the effects of cobalt in an exercise physiology model will not change our research plans." Kimberly Rinker

Thoroughbred trainer Sam Kavanagh, whose licence was suspended in May after the former Sir Henry Cecil-trained Midsummer Sun tested positive for the banned substance cobalt, has been found guilty on 23 of the 24 charges in an investigation into cobalt and caffeine breaches by Racing New South Wales stewards. The Kavanagh-trained Midsummer Sun returned a positive pre-race swab to both substances when winning the Gosford Cup in January and investigations found an extensive use of a "Vitamin Complex" which contained excessive levels of cobalt. Kavanagh, whose Melbourne Cup-winning father Mark is also under investigation by Racing Victoria for cobalt offences, was among six men charged with 54 breaches by Racing New South Wales stewards. The investigations also unearthed that other horses in his yard had been treated with cobalt, and he has also been charged over positive results by Centre Pivot and Spinning Diamond. Kavanagh was found not guilty over the charge of administering caffeine to Midsummer Sun. Lengthy disqualification The trainer now has until September 10 to make submissions on penalties which will be considered by the panel but it looks likely he will face a lengthy disqualification from the sport. The result of the investigation, which was accompanied by detailed written reasons from the stewards as to their findings which is not usual practice in Australia, comes just ten days after trainer Kevin Moses was handed a 12-month ban for presenting a horse to race with cobalt in its system. Along with Kavanagh, Dr Tom Brennan of the Flemington Equine Clinic was found guilty of 12 charges, along with his colleague Adam Corby being found guilty of one of two charges. Former Kavanagh stable employee Michael O'Loughlin was found guilty of four charges. Others to be found guilty include disqualified harness racing trainer Mitchell Butterfield on all five charges he faced, while John Camilleri was found guilty of six of seven charges. Racing rocked Australian racing has this year been rocked by the scandal involving cobalt, which can assist in generating more red blood cells to carry oxygen through the body and thus allow a horse to perform at a peak level for longer. Peter Moody, Danny O'Brien, Mark Kavanagh and the father-son team of Lee And Shannon Hope are other trainers facing charges relating to cobalt in one of the most dramatic investigations in Australian racing history. By Lewis Porteous Reprinted with permission of the Racing Post

LEADING Queensland harness racing trainer Darrel Graham has met Peter Moody to discuss their collective bewilderment over positive tests to cobalt. While not formally charged, Graham has been notified his stable star Mafuta Vautin returned a positive test to cobalt in winning the $50,000 Qbred Triad final at Albion Park on May 30. Leading thoroughbred trainer Moody is fighting a case where Lidari tested positive when placing in the Turnbull Stakes last October. Graham was two days into a recent US holiday when he received news of the swab. Mafuta Vautin, named after colourful rugby league identity Paul Vautin, returned a cobalt reading of 342 micrograms a litre, well above the permitted reading of 200. “I am bewildered,’’ Graham said. “I don’t know anything about the stuff. I wouldn’t even know how to use it or have a clue what it looks like.’’ Representatives from the Day and McDowell families, harness racing licensees who faced cobalt charges, were also present at the meeting with Moody and Graham in Sydney on. Dean McDowell and Neil Day have been suspended for four years on cobalt charges and another three years for failing to attend the hearings. The meeting was also attended by former leading jockey turned trainer Kevin Moses, recently banned for a year for presenting a horse with an elevated cobalt reading. The meeting discussed if horses could have a cobalt level of more than 200mpl by accidental use of supplements. Cobalt use was originally detected in harness horses in the US and tests revealed that it was performance enhancing and a threat to a horse’s heart and nervous system.  

Columbus, OH --- The U.S. Trotting Association announced Monday that it will fund a research study by renowned equine researchers Dr. George Maylin from Morrisville State College in New York and Dr. Karyn Malinowski and Dr. Ken McKeever of Rutgers University in New Jersey to evaluate the effects of cobalt on red blood cell production (erythropoiesis) and performance enhancement in horses. Dr. Maylin anticipates that the study will commence at the beginning of September. "The purpose is to study the effects of cobalt on racehorses with the exercise physiology model used by Dr. McKeever to study drugs such as EPO," explained Dr. Maylin. "It's the only way to assess the pharmacological effects with this type of compound. It will be a dose-response study to see if some level of cobalt has an effect on performance." In a previous study funded by the USTA, the three researchers determined a baseline for what the normal levels of cobalt are in a Standardbred horse. "Most of the research has established that the naturally occurring levels in a horse are below 25 ppb but occasionally can range as high as 70 ppb," said USTA President Phil Langley in making the announcement. "The problem remains that, other than establishing the natural levels, little is really known about the effects of cobalt on horses when it is given in excessive amounts." Racing jurisdictions have set thresholds to regulate the use of cobalt because it is known to be toxic in humans. However, there is currently no scientific evidence to determine an appropriate threshold for horses because dose-response studies have not been reported. "The recent action of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on cobalt pretty much reflects the actions taken in many racing jurisdictions and the prevailing thought is that a warning at readings in excess of the 25 ppb level and a more severe penalty when the results exceed 50 ppb will dramatically reduce any improper use of cobalt," said Langley. In addition, there have been no controlled studies to document the purported performance enhancing effects of cobalt. The goal of the proposed study is to test the hypothesis that cobalt administration will alter biochemical parameters related to red blood cell production as well as markers of exercise performance. "The important questions are whether cobalt can dramatically improve a horse's performance or is detrimental to the horse's health," added Langley. "That's what this research aims to discover." Eight healthy, trained Standardbred mares will be used for this experiment. Before receiving any drug treatment, all animals will complete a series of baseline testing. According to the study plan, 50 mg of cobalt (Co HCl in one liter of saline) will be administered at 9 a.m. on three consecutive days. Blood samples will be obtained before and at one, two, four and 24 hours after administration. Administration will commence seven days after the first Graded Exercise Test (GXT). Plasma and blood volume will be measured two days after the last dose of cobalt. A post administration GXT will be performed the next day. Testing will be comprised of measurement of maximal aerobic capacity and markers of performance, measurement of plasma volume and blood volume as well as lactate, erythropoietin (EPO), thyroid hormones and various blood hematological factors. Cobalt toxicity and its ability to increase red blood cell production in humans have been known for more than 50 years. Recently there has been renewed interest in cobalt as a performance enhancing drug (PED) in race horses and human athletes. The possible toxicity associated with its use as a PED has become a welfare concern in the horse industry. The USTA Communications Department    

The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) issued a Notice to the Industry on June 3, 2015 advising that Ontario will begin testing for cobalt with a threshold of 50ng/ml in blood, as of August 1,2015. On July 24, 2015, a Notice to the Industry advised that trainers and owners can choose to have a claimed horse post-race tested for cobalt at their own expense. The attached amended Directive has been issued to provide clarity for this policy. Cobalt: Amended Directive Ontario Racing Commission

Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) Steward's concluded an Inquiry today into a report received from the Australian Government National Measurement Institute that cobalt above the threshold was detected in a post race urine sample taken from Tiny Tinker following its win in race 4, the TROTS TV LADYSHIP PACE (2030 metres) conducted at Newcastle on 19 March 2015. The "B" sample and associated control sample were confirmed by the ChemCentre in Western Australia. Mr Carroll pleaded guilty to a charge pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule 190 (1), (2) and (4) in that he did present Tiny Tinker to race at Newcastle on 19 March 2015, not free of a prohibited substance. Mr Carroll was disqualified for a period of 7 years in respect of the charge under Rule 190 (1), (2) & (4) to commence from 19 May 2015, the date upon which he was stood down. In considering penalty Stewards were mindful of the following; * This was Mr Carroll's 2nd offence for Rule 190 breaches, * That Cobalt is deemed a Class 1 substance under the HRNSW Penalty Guidelines, * The level recorded being 290 ug/L * Mr Carroll's guilty plea, licence history and other personal subjective facts. Mr. Carroll was informed of his right to appeal this decision Acting under the provisions of Rule 195, Tiny Tinker was disqualified from the abovementioned race.   Reid Sanders

Three cobalt convictions in Queensland have been quashed on a technicality - and at least two more cases are likely to follow suit. Harness racing trainers Trevor Lambourn (three-year disqualification), Shawn Grimsey (18 months) and Ken Belford (18 months) have had their appeals upheld because the laboratories that tested their horses’ samples - in Perth and Sydney - weren’t accredited under the state’s Racing Act. It means the samples would have been inadmissible in court. It’s also expected the recent disqualifications of thoroughbred trainers Glen Baker (two years) and Jamie McConachy (18 months) will be overturned using the same loophole. It’s another embarrassing blow for Racing Queensland following the greyhound live-baiting scandal, which has claimed the jobs of key executives, with the organisation also set to post a $28 million loss for this financial year. Queensland Racing Minister Bill Byrne has announced a comprehensive audit of all handling procedures of the Racing Science Centre, the Office of Racing Regulation and Racing Queensland. Queensland’s Racing Science Centre has been able to test for cobalt in-house since May 26 and the secondary testing labs will be added to the certified list immediately. “Racing Queensland considers there is no question surrounding the accuracy of the results that have been returned on these samples,” RQ acting chief executive Ian Hall said. “The samples were tested by NATA-certified laboratories qualified to conduct such testing and confirmatory analysis. “There is an issue pertaining to an administrative error relating to the certification of the laboratories for the specific purposes of the Racing Act 2002 framework. “Today’s outcome does not impact any future samples in Queensland.” But it does affect a lot of the past work and reinforces the fact that everyone has to be diligent and dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ when prosecuting these cases. By Tom Biddington Reprinted with permission of the racing.com.au site

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