Champion trainer Peter Moody queries cobalt effects after Sydney meeting
PETER Moody has questioned whether banned drug cobalt is the “big, bad bear” it’s being made out to be.
The Melbourne-based trainer, who prepared former champion racehorse Black Caviar, flew into Sydney on Wednesday to meet several other Australian horse trainers, who like Moody are caught up in racing’s cobalt scandal but are claiming their innocence.
Like those present at the meeting, which included Sydney trainer Kevin Moses and Queensland harness trainer Darrel Graham, Moody insists the positive cobalt test relating to his horse Lidari following the Turnbull Stakes last October was due to the horse receiving legal vitamins and supplements that contain low levels of cobalt.
And yesterday Moody jumped on the front foot, questioning whether banned drug cobalt was actually as bad as it has been made out to be, especially at the levels of 380 and 410 micrograms per litre of urine (ug/L) found in Lidari.
“We came away from the meeting believing we need to educate people that cobalt is not this big, bad bear it is made out to be,” Moody said.
“At the end of the day we have all given cobalt but inadvertently through our supplements.”
Moody questioned whether cobalt was any worse than other banned drugs that incur fines from racing stewards, rather than the 12-month disqualification Moses received after he presented Felix Bay to race at Hawkesbury in April with a reading above the 200ug/L national cobalt threshold.
“I feel for Kevin Moses and I was fined $12,000 for a horse testing positive to ibuprofen (late last year),” he said.
“I couldn’t explain that, like Moses couldn’t explain the cobalt and I get fined $12,000 and he gets 12 months.
“Why is cobalt worse than any of these things — penicillin, phenylbutazone, everyday oats and corn, and is it any worse than nailing a piece of steel to its foot?
“Is it a bad drug? Yes, all drugs are bad. But is it more performance enhancing than giving a horse bute or lasix or any form of anti-inflammatory treatment, I don’t think so.”
A leading Australian veterinarian, who wishes to remain anonymous, said while cobalt had been found to have similar effects on humans to the endurance-boosting drug EPO, there have not been enough tests completed on racehorses to tell whether it had the same effect on them.
But the veterinarian said cobalt posed a significant risk to a horse’s welfare.
“There is certainly evidence in literature that cobalt in massive doses is a welfare issue and horses react badly, sweat profusely, have muscle spasms, colic and then collapse,” the veterinarian said.
“You may be aware of studies in humans and there have been a number of deaths reported from cobalt from heart (disease).
“There was a brewery in Quebec and they added cobalt to beer because it stabilised the beer foam and in a relatively short period of time 50 very heavy beer drinkers reported to the local hospital with heart (disease) and 20 of those patients subsequently died.
“To me the reason for banning it purely from a welfare view point is certainly justified.”
Ray Biffin, a veterinary nutritionist for one of Australia’s leading equine nutrition brands Mitavite, said a cobalt level needed to be “well over 1000” before it could become performance enhancing.
He also claims cobalt posed little welfare risk to horses at levels around 400-500
ug/L and said there is every possibility trainers like Moody are innocent.
“I’m sure they are (innocent) and I have no doubt at all,” he said.
“Feeding complete feed like Mitavite, there is already 1mg (of cobalt) per day in that feed, then you feed an oral supplement that has 1mg per day in it and then you might have a multi vitamin injection that has 1mg per day in it.
“That 3mg per day is all going into the horse’s body until every tissue in the horse’s body has as much cobalt as it wants in it and then it starts to come back out in the urine and this is how they are getting the problems.”
Story courtesy Brad Davidson Gold Coast Bulletin.