Victorian Racing Tribunal rules trainer Archie Alexander breached administration rules in cobalt case

Ballarat trainer Archie Alexander has suffered a major blow in his fight against cobalt-related charges at the Victorian Racing Tribunal.

Alexander is fighting two charges related to an elevated cobalt reading taken from his charge Tom’s Knight after a race at Kilmore in November 2018.

Alexander’s legal team argued the trainer was not guilty of the more serious charge or administering or causing the administration of a substance that produced the elevated cobalt reading on Tom’s Knight.

However, VRT chair Judge John Bowman ruled Alexander had breached the administration rules, leaving open the possibility of a suspension or disqualification for the Englishman.

Alexander approached stewards about the potential of a particular feed brand containing cobalt in the wake of the Ron Quinton case in New South Wales. Stewards advised Alexander to check with the manufacturer of the feed regarding the ingredients.

The feed manufacturer assured Alexander “there was insufficient cobalt in the feed to produce a positive return and there were quality controls in place”.

Based on that advice, Alexander used the feed. Stewards do not dispute the feed caused Tom’s Knight’s elevated cobalt reading.

Trainer Archie Alexander was ruled to have broken administration rules after using a brand of feed containing cobalt that produced an elevated reading in one of his horses. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

Alexander’s barrister Paul Holdenson cited precedents such as the Mark Kavanagh cobalt case and other cases, which related to honest mistakes leading to similar offences.

VRT chair Judge John Bowman rejected those arguments when assessing Alexander’s case.

Bowman pointed out the mistake defence does not apply if it results in guilt of another offence. Alexander has also been charged with the lesser offence of presenting a horse to race with a prohibited substance in its system.

“In the present case, the alleged mistake made by Mr Alexander relates on the to the quantity of cobalt in the feed,” Bowman wrote in his judgment.

“There is no mistake in relation to whether the feed was authorised to be administered, whether it was administered, or as to whether it contained or might contain some cobalt.

“The true question is not Mr Alexander’s knowledge of the nature of the substance in question – whether or not if contained cobalt and if so how much – but whether the was the authority or direction to administer it.

“Clearly there was.”

The case will continue on a date to be fixed.

Originally published asCobalt ruling a blow for Alexander

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