Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson says the handing down of disqualifications to the Aquanita Eight sends a strong message to the small minority who think they can undermine the integrity of racing.
Life disqualifications were handed to former trainer Robert Smerdon along with former stable employees Greg and Denise Nelligan by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board on Thursday.
Five others including trainers Stuart Webb, Tony Vasil, Trent Pennuto and Liam Birchley and stablehand Daniel Garland were handed varying lengths of disqualification.
“If people choose to try and brazenly cheat the system to gain an unfair advantage over all of the hard-working and committed participants who abide by the Rules of Racing, then we don’t want them to have a place in our sport,” Thompson said in a statement.
“Our participants, customers and the wider public expect Victorian racing to uphold the highest levels of integrity and we will continue to ensure that the very small minority who seek to breach the Rules of Racing are found, investigated and ultimately prosecuted.
“The Rules of Racing are enforced by our Integrity Services team who have worked tirelessly to detect, investigate and prosecute the charges in this case and they will continue their efforts in the interests of all those who participate within and enjoy Victorian racing.”
Thompson said he looked forward to reading the RAD Board’s reasons for their decisions.