Fifteen Years for Cobalt

Aussie trainer Darren Smith receives extended ban for cobalt use

Darren Smith

Darren Smith

Trainer Darren Smith has been handed a 15-year disqualification by Racing NSW Stewards on Friday for 42 charges relating to cobalt use.

In considering their penalty, Racing NSW Stewards found that Smith had purchased a product from disqualified Harness Racing identity Shannon Wonson and embarked on an admitted course of conduct to inject multiple horses in his stable.

The Newcastle trainer admitted injecting horses with a substance which he understood to be a blood booster, after initially denying he had administered cobalt.

Stewards handed down the heavy penalty citing Smith’s previous poor record of drug-related offences.  It was Smith’s tenth offence regarding prohibited substances since 1989.

Earlier this month Stewards found Smith guilty on charges relating to 21 positive samples. He had been charged under three different rules for each of the offences, but after finding him guilty of two, found it was unnecessary to rule on the third.

A total of 17 runners from 20 race starts returned positive samples for cobalt for races between February and May in 2014.  All horses have been disqualified from their placings, which included 11 winners and four minor place getters.

Another charge was also issued against Smith in respect to the finding of cobalt in an out of competition sample.

The lowest reading from the horses involved was 224mcg/L with 12 reading above 1000.  The highest reading recorded came from Testarhythm at 6470mcg/L following his win in the Listed Ortensia Stakes at Scone.

Smith’s defence had been that there was no threshold in place at the time his horses tested positive.

Racing NSW didn’t have an established threshold for cobalt at the time of the offences. A cobalt threshold of 200mcg/L was introduced in Victoria last year and adopted nationally in January.

In finding Smith guilty, stewards said the threshold was unnecessary because the rules say substances which change the blood pattern of horses are banned.

Racing NSW stewards refused any nominations from Smith last May when the results came through, with all horses transferred to other stables.

Smith will be disqualified from training until 30 May 2029.

An appeal against today’s verdict has already been lodged with Racing NSW Appeals Tribunal.


Have Your Say - *Please Use Your Name & Surname

Comments Policy
The Sporting Post encourages readers to comment in the spirit of enlightening the topic being discussed, to add opinions or correct errors. All posts are accepted on the condition that the Sporting Post can at any time alter, correct or remove comments, either partially or entirely.

All posters are required to post under their actual name and surname – no anonymous posts or use of pseudonyms will be accepted. You can adjust your display name on your account page or to send corrections privately to the EditorThe Sporting Post will not publish comments submitted anonymously or under pseudonyms.

Please note that the views that are published are not necessarily those of the Sporting Post.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments



Popular Posts