Peter Moody has been cleared of deliberately administering illegal levels of the drug cobalt to stallion Lidari, but was found guilty of a lesser charge.
The Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board (RAD) handed down its decision on Wednesday after Moody was charged with three offences following Lidari’s second-place run in the 2014 Turnbull Stakes.
RAD chairman John Bowman said it was not comfortably satisfied that the horse was given cobalt for the purpose of affecting its performance.
He said the prohibited substance found its way into its system as a result of something that happened in the stables.
But the board said a lesser charge against Moody, relating to the non-intentional administration of cobalt to a racehorse, had been proved.
The arguments over penalties for that will be heard at a later date. The board found a ruling on a third charge was not required.
Mr Bowman said Moody had a real lack of knowledge of feeding operations at his stables and supervision was “inadequate to say the least”.
He was critical of the “high level of carelessness” at Moody’s stables and the “slap dash method” of administering injections.
Moody is one of the county’s most-recognisable horse trainers and has won more than 40 group-one races throughout his career.
He trained the undefeated Black Caviar, regarded as one of Australia’s greatest ever race horses, to 25 race wins.
‘We’ve never had to cheat’
“We’ve been vindicated. We’ve never cheated, we’ve never had to cheat,” Moody told reporters.
“We’ve been a highly successful stable. Some of our practices have been called into question and rightly so.
“Maybe I’ve been too successful for my own good and not looked at practices in my stable that wouldn’t have allowed this to happen.
“We didn’t administer cobalt knowingly or purposely or to affect the outcome of the race.”
Moody said the length of the case was unacceptable – and that the ongoing nature has impacted his business.
“This has been 18 months in the making,” he added.
“I think that’s the disappointing aspect for racing. We don’t need this hanging around.
“Racing doesn’t need this. it’s a great sport, it’s a great industry.
“It’s had a tremendous impact on my business. Financially, it’s been very draining from a legal perspective.
“We still win a lot of races but I have a lot less high-profile horses, if you like.
“I haven’t lost any business of this but I haven’t gained any which is what any trainer needs to go forward.”
Moody added that it was ‘very disappointing’ that he had been called a cheat by people that he had worked with, but that he was pleased a previous NSW investigation had cleared Black Caviar – his champion racehorse – of any wrongdoing.
“She was great for the industry,” he said.
“There’s no reason for people to suggest that. I’m very thankful that it was proved she never received any illicit substance, including cobalt.
“There was never an issue with her.”
Elevated levels of cobalt ‘an accident’
Moody was the fifth trainer to be charged since a cobalt threshold was introduced in 2014.
Lidari returned levels of 380 micrograms per litre of urine and 410mcg, which is well above the legal threshold of 200mcg.
Moody had previously told the hearing the elevated levels of cobalt were caused by staff accidentally overfeeding it a hoof treatment that contained higher levels than stated by the manufacturer.
High-profile trainers Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh both received disqualifications after being found guilty of a similar charge earlier this year but are appealing the decision at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Father and son team Shannon Hope and Lee Hope were also found guilty of illegally administering cobalt.