PROMINENT Australian veterinarian Dr Brian Stewart, speaking at the appeal hearing for banned trainers Mark Kavanagh and Danny O’Brien on Thursday, admitted the governing body should have issued warnings that standard doses of vitamin and mineral products containing cobalt could push horses’ levels above the permitted threshold.

When questioned whether warnings should have been issued to trainers, Stewart said: “With hindsight, yes.” He maintained, however, that cobalt could be considered a doping agent as it “has the very significant potential to enhance performance”.

Cobalt can help increase red blood cells to help take oxygen through the body, therefore enabling a horse to perform at its peak for longer. However Kavanagh and O’Brien deny deliberately administering cobalt to their horses.

Responding to Stewart’s assessments Peter Moody, the trainer of superstar mare Black Caviar, tweeted: “Bit late for some. Where are all [the] grub journalists who turned on me hiding. Please report facts!”

Moody decided to turn up training earlier this year after what he felt was unfair treatment during his cobalt case.

Earlier this week at the hearing Racing Victoria chief steward Terry Bailey conceded that the cobalt tests undertaken by laboratories were “not followed to the letter”, with urine samples for testing split between facilities, something that does not adhere to the regulatory body’s rules.

The hearing continues.

-extracts from