Racing Victoria (RV) Stewards on Friday issued charges against licensed trainer Mitchell Freedman following an investigation into the circumstances that led to the Mr Freedman trained, Pearl de Vere, returning a urine sample containing cobalt in excess of the permitted threshold of 100 micrograms per litre in urine.
The pre-race urine sample was taken from Pearl de Vere prior to the mare running in the LPA Lightning Fillies and Mares Benchmark 64 Handicap over 1200 metres at Geelong Racecourse on 28 June 2019 (the race).
Racing Analytical Services Limited reported that cobalt was detected in the sample at a concentration of 111 micrograms per litre. The Racing Chemistry Laboratory reported that cobalt was detected in the sample at a concentration of 130 micrograms per litre.
Both laboratories noted that the expanded measurement uncertainty for cobalt determination at 100 micrograms per litre is 10 micrograms per litre at over 99.7% confidence.
Cobalt is a prohibited substance pursuant to Division 1 of Part 2 of Schedule 1 of the Australian Rules of Racing (Prohibited List B), subject to the threshold in Item 11 of Division 3 of Part 2 of Schedule 1 of the Australian Rules of Racing.
The stewards have laid two charges against Mr Freedman, under AR 245 and AR 240, with the latter being a charge in the alternative. Those rules are reproduced below:
AR 245 Administration of prohibited substance in sample taken from horse before/after running in race
(1) A person must not:
(a) administer; or
(b) cause to be administered,
a prohibited substance on Prohibited List A and/or Prohibited List B to a horse which is detected in a sample taken from the horse prior to or following the running of a race.
AR 240 Prohibited substance in sample taken from horse at race meeting
(2) Subject to subrule (3), if a horse is brought to a racecourse for the purpose of participating in a race and a prohibited substance on Prohibited List A and/or Prohibited List B is detected in a sample taken from the horse prior to or following its running in any race, the trainer and any other person who was in charge of the horse at any relevant time breaches these Australian Rules.
In laying the charges, the Stewards recognise the unique circumstances presented by the evidence in this matter, including the cobalt levels recorded in the sample, and that a possible explanation for the detection of cobalt above the relevant threshold in the sample was the feeding regime outlined to the Stewards during their investigation.
Due to this matter’s unique and complex circumstances, the investigation took longer than usual. Having said this, the Stewards acknowledge the length of time this investigation has taken, and will continually seek to improve processes to ensure that investigations are conducted as expeditiously as possible.
The charges issued against Mr Freedman will be heard before the Victorian Racing Tribunal (VRT) on a date to be fixed.