As the new Racing Victoria Board assembles under the chairmanship of Brian Kruger from Monday week, there is a hefty to do list awaiting them, not the least the ongoing cloud of cobalt.
You would recall last week that RV’s Integrity Department issued a warning – not mentioning cobalt – to trainers warning them of custom made feeds and supplements and what constituents and active constituents were contained in them, even if not notified in the packaging.
It followed a Racing New South Wales alert of similar wording excepting it named cobalt and that such feed supplements and vitamins could elevate the levels of cobalt. (There have been trainers with cobalt level breaches in NSW which are currently under investigation).
The mention of cobalt from RV came in the shape that “for the avoidance of doubt, since the introduction of the cobalt threshold there have been more than 10,000 tests and RV stewards advise that there are no outstanding matters related to cobalt other than those that have already been publicly released.”
Well this week the indefatigable Kate Goodrich, you’d be well aware of her lengthy legal battles with RV and the Kilmore Racing Club over bullying and wrongful removal from training there, wrote to RV under the Freedom of Information Act (cost $28) seeking the results of all those 10,000 tests for cobalt levels.
Or as acknowledged by RV FOI Officer Georgie Galvin: “The results of all tests taken by Racing Victoria for cobalt and the levels of cobalt detected, in and out of competition between October 2014 and today’s date, including the name of each horse and the dates the tests were taken.”
Why Kate? asked Just Racing.
“I don’t know – someone had to do it,” she said.
“It’s not going to help my case but I just thought I know the system (FOI) and I’ll do it.
“I just think Racing Victoria can make these statements (about the cobalt tests) and are never held accountable. I think it would help confidence in the industry that these things need to be out there.”
So what are you going to do with them?
“I just think they should be made public,” she said.
This is – she points out – what Harness Racing New South Wales – the first body to deal with cobalt – publically published on their website all cobalt levels of every horse racing and in training.
It was an issue addressed by RV’s integrity department back in 2016 off a similar suggestion stated by Cranbourne trainer Mick Kent, who said at the time such action could name and shame trainers with elevated cobalt levels.
Chief steward Terry Bailey took the proposal to an RV drug strategy meeting. “There doesn’t seem to be too much opposition to it and we’ll probably have a discussion with the Australian Trainer’s Association,” he said at the time. “If there is a view that it is going to help, then why not?”
“As far as bicarb results are concerned, we don’t have a lot of concern in that area so we might just go the cobalt.”
That didn’t happen but Goodrich, in her FOI actions, will push to seek those answers now.
RV has 30 days to respond, but in changes to the FOI Act effective this months, has a number of outs, not seemingly relevant here, to delay providing an answer for up to another 30 days.
These are documents containing matter communicated by another state, affecting national security, defence or international relations, law enforcement documents, relating to IBAC, affecting personal privacy, relating to trade secrets, containing material in confidence.
In her own battles with RV seeking a suitable outcome to her situation, Goodrich has been a long term FOI litigant. She has sought emails and documents from RV in relation to anything pertaining to herself.
She currently has an outstanding 40 documents seeking a decision from the FOI Commissioner (expected in December) requesting release of the damning FBIS International report that confirmed the bullying and wrongful eviction from Kilmore, as well as a raft of emails she has sought from Bailey and others that mention her name.
And while former trainer Peter Moody was hit with a $3000 fine over his tweets in relation to the cobalt announcements last week, Goodrich continues her social media campaign seemingly without incident from RV, despite some overtly aggressive commentary.
“Fear retribution, repercussions….yep & that’s exactly what happens because of men in power who are not accountable to anyone.” Was one this week. Even though it was in relation to the Channel 7 Drama this week with the sacking of cadet journalist Amy Tauber, but written from her perspective.
But not these: “Yeah and try doing it while being bullied and run out of your workplace with no support or protection from governing body for over 4 years.”
“They don’t have to answer because they know they’re unaccountable to anyone, won’t change under current structure; to many getting hurt.”
Goodrich is trying to rebuild her career. She had a Hard Spun gelding she has taken her time with win a trial in impressive fashion at Wodonga recently. It has since gone for a spell.
Its name – Too Hard To Handle – not named after Goodrich, but like her, needing time to get the job done.
She is back at the Victorian Civil And Administrative Tribunal on October 9 – the same day the new RV Board hits the ground, this time for a mention, likely to proceed to yet another directions hearing in relation a suspended 12 month suspension.
In the meantime RV will be forced to answer her FOI queries for 10,000 drug tests since the cobalt crisis broke.
By Bruce Clark