Flemington Equine partner Dr Ian Church was of little help to the Sam Kavanagh cobalt and caffeine inquiry offering “I can’t remember” to just about every question asked by Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy.
Church attended the inquiry via Skype linkup from Europe where he is holidaying.
Church admitted to stewards that former Flemington Equine practicing vet Amy Kelly, who worked with Kavanagh-trained horses during her time with the business, raised concerns with him over “a bottle” she claimed was supplied to Kavanagh by Church’s partner Dr Tom Brennan.
“To what I can remember, she said my partner Tom Brennan provided the bottle to Sam Kavanagh,” Church said.
The bottle in question is believed to be a “100 ml injectable bottle” labelled “vitamin complex” with a “heavy concentration of cobalt” found in Kavanagh’s stable that’s at the centre of the cobalt investigations of the inquiry.
Stewards said in an interview with Kelly on March 13 she gave evidence that in a phone conversation with Church he said, “Have you heard what happened with Sam”.
Kelly told stewards she questioned Church why he was calling, as she rarely heard from him, rather discussing practice matters with Brennan or practice manager Aaron Corby.
Kelly said Church told her, “Tom Brennan and Aaron Corby don’t want to call you. They think their phones are bugged”.
“It’s going to be fine,” Kelly alleged Church said in the phone call. “Same as Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh – It’s going to be fine.”
When asked if he remembered the context of the conversation, Church answered stewards with, “I may have said that. I can’t be sure, I don’t know.”
Kelly said Church told her the bottle was probably just a “booster, appetite stimulant” and “there is nothing untoward”.
“I can’t remember that,” Church told stewards. “I may have said that but I can’t remember.”
Kelly also gave evidence to stewards that Church later told her, “Tom gave him (Kavanagh) the bottle but he didn’t know it was cobalt” to which Kelly replied “If he didn’t know why did he send it up behind my back”.
“No I don’t remember, I can’t recall,” Church said when asked if Kelly’s evidence was correct.
Kelly also told stewards she told Church, “Tom Brennan should go and own up to this” and the business could “go under” and “insurance won’t cover us”.
“I can’t remember,” he responded when stewards put it to him but Church did remember Kelly “was grumpy” during the phone conversations.
“I think she was unhappy her name was associated with this,” he said.
Kelly left Flemington Equine in ApriL
After interviewing Church stewards adjourned the inquiry to a date to be fixed.
( As reported by Clinton Payne at www.racenet.com.au )