PETER Moody, trainer of unbeaten mare Black Caviar and three times Australia's leading horse trainer, faces his judgment day at the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary board on Monday.

PATRICK BARTLEY reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that Moody will finally seek to explain how his horse, Lidari, returned a cobalt reading of 410 micrograms per litre after running second in the 2014 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington.


It may well be the most defining moment in Moody's career; even more significant than Black Caviar racing at Royal Ascot.

Cobalt levels above the threshold of 200 are prohibited and positive swabs carry significant deterrents and penalties – a mandatory three-year disqualification from the sport.

Moody's vast operation – he has more than 300 horses on his books and tentacles throughout the racing industry, would need to be disbanded if he is found guilty and rubbed out for the maximum period.

In recent times cobalt has been identified as a drug given in the belief that it enhances racing performance. It has come a long way since first being identified in standardbreds at the Meadowlands racetrack in New Jersey, US.

Since then, worldwide racing regulators have moved to establish a threshold to help authorities enforce bans.

The worldwide threshold is 100, half the 200 in Australia.

Since being identified in Australia, career-ending bans have been handed to trainers with cobalt positives in harness and thoroughbred racing in most Australian states.

NSW harness has banned more than 10 trainers for periods of between 30 months and 10 years.

NSW thoroughbred racing gave Darren Smith a 15-year holiday and Sam Kavanagh nine years.

Flemington vets Tom Brennan and Adam Matthews were disqualified for 6-½ and 5-½ years respectively for their role in the Sam Kavanagh case.

Lee and Shannon Hope were rubbed out by the Victorian RAD board for three and five years just last month. They are appealing their penalties.

In Melbourne, trainers Danny O'Brien and Mark Kavanagh and vet Tom Brennan faced an exhaustive seven-day RAD board hearing into five cobalt positives in their horses, also from the spring of 2014. They are awaiting their verdicts. 

Moody's case will have an unusual beginning. The first witness is scheduled to appear late on Monday afternoon, from Dubai.

This witness, Dr Martin Wainscott, is one of the group of international experts that defined Racing Victoria's case against the Hopes.

This suggests Moody intends to run a defence that challenges the science of cobalt and allege that Lidari's massive levels resulted from normal supplementation.

There have been four cobalt cases in Victoria but they can be split into two groups: Kavanagh and O'Brien blame vet Brennan whilst Moody and the Hopes want to challenge the science.

Prior to blaming Brennan, Kavanagh, O'Brien and their barrister, Damien Sheales, had indicated they also were going to challenge the science.

Moody's defence will hinge on the claim that the science around cobalt is flawed, that RV got it wrong and that these trainers are innocent.

Kavanagh and O'Brien initially were outspoken critics of the cobalt threshold and Sheales said at the first directions hearing that they would show the hysteria around cobalt was created and perpetuated by RV.

But in the end, on the courtroom steps, O'Brien and Kavanagh did an about-face and the science of cobalt was accepted by all parties as "agreed facts".

On the other hand, Lee and Hope in their case presented a solitary expert who disagreed with the science and philosophy surrounding cobalt.

The RAD board, however, preferred the five Australian and international experts representing Victoria who proved the cobalt case against the Hopes.

Collectively these experts said "the only way to get elevated cobalt levels above the 200 threshold on raceday is to give more cobalt or cobalt closer to the race than had been admitted to the stewards".

In sentencing Lee and Hope to lengthy disqualifications, the RAD board labelled both trainers as unreliable witnesses.

The Hopes are appealing this disqualification.

Many will remember Peter Moody's outburst on the industry-owned TV station, declaring he felt persecuted by the stewards to the extent that he had lost faith in the integrity department and chief steward Terry Bailey.

Now Moody's day of reckoning is upon us and we will finally hear the explanation of Lidari's cobalt reading of 410, more than twice the generous Australian threshold of 200.


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