Trainer Ben Smith guilty of cobalt charges

SYDNEY May 20 2019

Trainer Ben Smith has been found guilty of all charges against him relating to elevated cobalt levels, race day treatments and giving false evidence to stewards.

Smith trained two Group One winners in the autumn of 2018 - In Her Time (Galaxy) and El Dorado Dreaming (ATC Sires' Produce Stakes) - but by the spring his career was in tatters.

Stewards raided his Newcastle stable on September 11, 2018, after swab results from two horses showed higher than allowed levels of cobalt.

During their investigation, stewards found several unlabelled products in Smith's vehicle and his residence but the trainer declined to say where he got them.

He also said the products found in his vehicle did not belong to him.

Stewards stood Smith down on that day after charging him with giving false evidence and many of his horses, including In Her Time and El Dorado Dreaming, were transferred to neighbouring trainer Kris Lees.

In February, Smith admitted he got the substances from licensed harness racing trainer Neil Costello who was subsequently warned off for failing to name his source.

When the inquiry resumed in April, Smith said the only explanation for the elevated cobalt levels returned by Iron Duke and Elaborate in August was that he had increased his use of supplements containing cobalt, admitting he did so without veterinary advice.

On Monday, Racing NSW stewards announced Smith had been found guilty of 10 charges.

Stablehand Emma Bickley has been found guilty of failing to attend a stewards inquiry, giving false evidence and administering medication on race day.

Smith's brother, stablehand Daniel Smith, has also been found guilty of failing to front stewards and aiding, abetting and conspiring with Bickley to administer a substance on race day.

Bickley and Daniel Smith did not enter pleas to the charges and stewards will decide their penalties on May 28.

Smith's penalty hearing will be held on June 11.



- AAP

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