De Little Engine trainer has charges dismissed

A Victorian tribunal has dismissed cobalt charges against top-flight trainer Danny O'Brien.

Ballarat became embroiled in the long running cobalt saga, when one of O’Brien’s horses De Little Engine won the opening race on Ballarat Cup Day in 2014.

But in the latest twist of the saga a judge has dismissed the evidence because he maintains the test taken on Ballarat’s big race day had not followed the rules.

De Little Engine in 2014

De Little Engine in 2014

Justice Greg Garde in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on Friday set aside suspensions against the trainers, saying there was a problem with the evidence that Racing Victoria had relied on.

"The tribunal finds that over the period of April 2014 until August 2015, the procedure for testing for cobalt substantially departed from the requirements," Justice Garde said.

"The test results are inadmissible as evidence against the trainers."

Kavanagh and O'Brien received respective three and four-year disqualifications after five horses returned positive results for cobalt in 2014.

The trainers said their vet Tom Brennan gave their horses a substance containing cobalt without their knowledge.

Mr Brennan has already been disqualified by Racing Victoria after he pleaded guilty to multiple cobalt charges.

Justice Garde on Friday said he was satisfied it was Mr Brennan who had administered the cobalt and Justice Garde directed the Racing Victoria orders against the trainers be set aside.

Outside the hearing, O'Brien launched a blistering attack on Racing Victoria and chief steward Terry Bailey, and urged Victorian Racing Minister Martin Pakula to take immediate action against the sport's governing body.

"It's time that (Racing Minister) Martin Pakula took a hard look at what is going on in the racing industry in this state," said a fired-up O'Brien outside the hearing.

'We are going to read the judgement. The summary from Garde was very strong that we were completely innocent and Racing Victoria have got issues.

"Once we understand the ins and outs of it, we will be reserving all our rights."

In the tribunal hearing Justice Garde had said that RV's case against the trainers had collapsed because their sample testing for traces of cobalt had "substantially departed" from the rules in place.

"The legal consequence is that the test results are inadmissable in evidence against the trainers," his summary said.