STAFF bungling led to the unlawfully high reading of cobalt in Peter Moody's horse Lidari, senior counsel for the trainer told Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board on Wednesday.

PATRICK BARTLEY & LARISSA NICHOLSON report for FAIRFAX MEDIA that barrister Matthew Stirling also argued that testing procedures had not been correctly followed, a matter that threatens to stall the case until as late as February.

Lawyers for Racing Victoria will have to obtain evidence statements from employees at laboratories in Western Australia and Hong Kong.

Lidari returned an elevated cobalt level after finishing second in the Turnbull Stakes last November at Flemington.

Stirling told the hearing that stable hands had accidently overfed the stayer with Availa.

He sought to paint Moody's low-level staff as well-meaning but "we're talking about stable hands, not people who walk around with PhDs in their back pockets".

The board heard that Neil Alexander, Moody's main feed employee, told investigators he had been feeding Ledari 5½ days a week.

However, some months later, Moody's representatives told stewards another worker, Rai Myala, was attending to the horse at the time of the reading.

Alexander had said he was giving the horse one scoop of the hoof powder each day, but Myala said he was in fact giving it more than that.

Stirling argued the higher than recommended amount of hoof powder, combined with a vitamin injection, caused the high cobalt reading.

But Jeff Gleeson, QC, for Racing Victoria stewards, said Moody was asking the board to believe "a hoof powder seven times greater than the manufacturer recommended" was given to Lidari.

He said: "This story of hoof powder and a vitamin injection" as a reason for Lidari's reading of over 400 micrograms was implausible.

Even if such a large amount of hoof powder had been given to the horse, there was no evidence it would lead to such an elevated result on race day.

Stirling countered that Racing Victoria had a "hollow case" based on general assertions and no facts.

Just because the horse had returned a high cobalt result, it did not automatically mean the trainer was responsible.

Stirling used the analogy of a woman murdered in her home – previous cases might suggest the husband was most often the culprit in such crimes, but that alone could not prove guilt.

"There is no case against this trainer and no direct evidence," he said.

Stirling said while it may be tempting to assume Myala was taking the blame to save his boss, the board would find him credible when they met him.

"Myala is a witness of truth," he said.

Stirling argued that Racing Victoria had intervened to ask testers to split Lidari's sample, as there was not enough urine to test. It was later discovered there was enough.

He said Racing Victoria did not have a right to intervene in such a manner.

Judge John Bowman, chairman of the board, said he would leave the stewards to consider overnight how they would counter Stirling's argument.

"It is not a trivial argument, it is one of substance," he said.