Jumps jockey turned jockey/trainer Steven Pateman and his partner Jess Barton were found guilty of administering cobalt to Sir Walter Scott at the Coleraine track, yet lengthy legal delays and appeals mean they have continued to ride and train horses – well over four years after the act and 19 months after the guilty finding.
In September 2017 at Coleraine, a pre-race swab of Sir Walter Scott was later found to have a cobalt reading twelve times higher than the allowed 100 milligrams.
On 13 October, 2017, Pateman and Barton reportedly admitted that injections of substances containing cobalt were given to the horse.
According to Stewards, on 24 October 2017 there was a general denial and lack of co-operation. Then, they later tried to claim they made a false admission of guilt due to being tired and still drunk after a “big night out”. Then, four months later, there was the belated production of a treatment note amidst some particularly poorly kept records.
On 16 March 2020, Pateman and Barton were found guilty of breaching AR 175 (h)(i) in that they administered or caused to be adminstered a prohibited substance, being cobalt, for the purpose of affecting the performance or behaviour of Sir Walter Scott in the race.
The penalty for such a breach is a mandatory disqualification for three years,unless special circumstances are found to exist.
After the guilty ruling, Mr Pateman and Ms Barton suddenly claimed “special circumstances” in that they had “impaired mental functioning” at the time of administering the cobalt.
The penalty hearing notes on May 2020 (available here ) make it clear why such a claim was not accepted and the stewards decision for a three year disqualification was ordered to stand.
The couple then received a ‘stay’, meaning they are not considered a disqualified person and have been allowed to continue to train and ride, based on them waiting on the outcome of another case claimed to be relevant to theirs.
Steven Patman and Jess Barton have since appealed their disqualification at VCAT, which resulted in an extension of the ‘stay’ and have their own hearing listed against Racing Victoria scheduled for May 2022 – so the ‘stay’ remains until at least then – almost five years after the offence occured.
To rub salt into the wounds, on September 12, Pateman was awarded the Tommy Corrigan medal for most outstanding jumps jockey and a tribute was made glorifying his work for the year where he should have actually been serving his disqualification – available here.
UPDATE 6/6/23 VCAT has reduced the disqualification for both Pateman and Barton from three years to eleven months commencing 9 June 2023. More on the VCAT decision here.