Hopes lose VCAT cobalt appeal

POSTED ON  |  26-10-2018

Shannon and Lee Hope
The state's longest-running cobalt saga drew closer to an ending on Friday when the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal confirmed an original guilty verdict against father-and-son training partners Lee and Shannon Hope. VCAT announced on Friday it had found both trainers guilty of administering a prohibited substance to affect the performance of three horses - Windy Citi Bear, Best Suggestion and Choose - in the months of June, July and September in 2014. Shannon Hope was originally issued a five-year disqualification and his father a three-year ban.

VCAT will hold a further hearing in relation to penalties but within the rules, there exists a three-year minimum term for administering a prohibited substance to affect performance unless special circumstances can be proven. In outlining the reasons for his decision, Justice Greg Garde said: "I am satisfied that Shannon Hope, who had charge of the horses stabled at Seymour, was well aware that he was administering or causing the administration of substances that he should not be administering.
  • "At the RAD Board, Shannon Hope's evidence in answer to questions from his own senior counsel was false. He stated and elaborated on false answers. Later, he admitted telling untruths."
Justice Garde said Hope's evidence in relation to cobalt rules and his own stable's compliance with the restriction of the use of a cobalt-containing supplement, had left his credit in 'grave doubt'.
  • "The administration of cobalt-containing substances was surreptitious, and was kept secret," he noted.
Garde said he believed Lee Hope had knowledge of what was going on in the stable in relation to cobalt-related products.
  • "I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities to a comfortable level of satisfaction that Lee Hope was aware what was happening within the stable, and took no step to stop or prevent unrecorded administrations of cobalt containing supplements or medications," he said.
Click here to read Justice Garde's full finding.

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