Racing Victoria has lodged a counter-appeal in VCAT against horse trainer Richard Laming, following Laming's appeal challenging his three month cobalt presentation suspension. Racing Victoria is seeking to extend Laming’s suspension awarded by the Victoria Racing Tribunal, awarding Laming only three months after they suggested a 10 month ban.
Laming's three month suspension from the Victorian Racing Tribunal was due to his guilty plea for producing a race horse with a prohibited level of cobalt. However, Laming was subsequently found not guilty of administering the cobalt substance to the horse. This was based on the finding that the raised levels of cobalt in the horse were the result of a mistake of a stable employee, in giving the horse a vitamin injection. Laming appealed to VCAT to reduce the severity of his three month suspension. Racing Victoria launched a counter- appeal in order for VCAT to consider the arguments and circumstances of both parties before it hands down Laming's penalty. VCAT has not announced a date which the appeals will be heard.
This is not Laming’s first instance of suspected tampering with race horses. In 2019, charges were made against Laming for suspected stomach tubing. The charges were eventually dropped before the Victoria Racing Tribunal however, due to misconduct of the former manager of Racing Victoria's Compliance Assurance Team, Dion Villella. Villella was dismissed by the Tribunal after breaching an order to refrain from contacting interested parties to Laming’s case while giving evidence to the Tribunal in February 2021. Racing Victoria conducted a review of the matter in conjunction with the Victorian Racing Integrity Board. In their review, Racing Victoria confirmed that Villella was corresponding with parties to the case and witnesses to discuss evidence of the case. Racing Victoria concluded that Villella's actions amounted to misconduct and he is now subject to restricted duties. The Racing Integrity Commissioner is also to examine the conduct, and Racing Victoria may make further statements as needed upon the conclusion of this investigation.
If you are interested in learning more about Victoria Racing's latest statement on the issue, please see here: <https://www.racingvictoria.com.au/news/2021-03-23/review-into-the-withdrawal-of-charges-in-laming-case>.