Watch Live Racing FREE!
Sign-up now and Watch every Race Live and Free on your Phone!
Best Odds with Top Tote+ and Bet Back Offers!
Register at Australia's #1 Online Bookmaker!
Price Boosts, Racing Backups, Fluc Up!
Sign-Up to Australia's Fastest Growing Online Bookmaker!
Odds Boosts, Racing Offers, Massive MULTIS!
Sign-up and start betting with Ladbrokes in 2 minutes!
Best Of The Best Odds!
Bet With Palmerbet and get Paid Top Fluc or Top Tote!!
*Conditions Apply. Excl VIC, NSW, SA & WA. Gamble Responsibly

Former trainer Robert Smerdon has been disqualified for life along with his ex-employees Greg and Denise Nelligan after being found guilty in the Aquanita race day treatments case.

Judge John Bowman handed down the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board penalties on Thursday with the three among eight people disqualified.

Trainer Stuart Webb has been banned for four years, Tony Vasil for three years, Trent Pennuto for two years, Liam Birchley for one year and stablehand Daniel Garland for one year.

Racing Victoria counsel Jeff Gleeson had earlier called for a $100,000 fine for Smerdon on top of his life disqualification while requesting a minimum five year disqualification for Webb, Vasil, Pennuto, Birchley and Garland.

Bowman said the Board would await a written submission from Smerdon’s counsel Tim McHenry with supporting financial documentation before ruling on a fine.

The Board gave McHenry seven days to lodge the submission after which stewards will have three days to respond.

The Aquanita Eight were charged in January following an investigation stemming from Nelligan’s alleged attempt to give Lovani an oral paste at Flemington at Flemington on October 7 last year.

Bowman said the penalties imposed reflected the gravity of what had been described as one of the darkest chapters in Australian racing history.

He said all eight were, to varying degrees, involved in a plan to insert sodium bicarbonate and tripart paste into horses on race day by way of “top-ups” so as to gain what was thought to be an unfair advantage.

“All eight had an association with Aquanita which also included a director,” Bowman said.

In handing down his penalty to Smerdon, Bowman said he was the leading trainer, the most prominent trainer of the Aquanita Group and also a director of the management company.

Smerdon was given the life ban after being found guilty of engaging in a practice that was dishonest, corrupt or fraudulent, improper or dishonourable on 115 occasions.

“There was effectively a hierarchical ladder,” Bowman said.

Bowman described Greg Nelligan as being down the ladder but the promoter of the scheme.

Like Smerdon he was disqualified for life for dishonest, corrupt or fraudulent, improper of dishonourable practice on 123 occasions.

Stewards downloaded 70,000 messages from Nelligan’s phone, 1000 of which they relied on in evidence.

Bowman said Denise Nelligan “encouraged the top-ups” and while bringing down the sordid tale when interviewed by stewards she eventually reneged while Webb, who was Smerdon’s foreman and a licensed trainer, issued instructions while also ordering “top-ups” for his own horses.

Bowman described Vasil’s record as far from perfect in disqualifying him for two years while Pennuto was Vasil’s foreman between 2010 and 2011 when Vasil was requesting “top-ups”.

Garland was described by Bowman as being well down the hierarchy of command but was a member of the “top-up team, albeit a nervous one”.

“He must be regarded as an offender though,” Bowman said.

Queensland-based Birchley was a member of the Aquanita stable until 2011 but raced horses in Melbourne during the spring between 2011 and 2015.

“While not a member of the team, he requested top-ups, the last of which was on Melbourne Cup day,” Bowman said.

“Mr Birchley has an unblemished record and with 60 horses in training a period of disqualification will hit him hard.”

All parties have 28 days to lodge appeals to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

After Tuesday’s guilty findings by the RAD Board, Birchley, through his lawyer Travis Schutz, indicated he would be appealing.

Featured News

Free List of the Best Racing Bets and Bonus Offers

We take a look at the BIGGEST and BEST Free Daily Racing Offers and Betting Promotions from Australia’s leading online...

Queensland Cup results and replay – 2019

View the results and replay for the 2019 Queensland Cup. The Queensland Cup was raced at Eagle Farm racecourse on...

Melbourne Cup plans revealed for Lord Belvedere

Imported stayer Lord Belvedere will be given the opportunity to progress to bigger spring staying races after scoring a stylish...

Horse Racing Big Bets – 20/7/2019

We take a look at the big bets the online bookmakers have taken on the weekends horse racing around the...

Another former Star WA sprinter in The Everest

Owner Bob Peters is set to have two runners in the $14 million The Everest with Enticing Star announced as...

Tahlia Hope set for extended stay in hospital

Apprentice Tahlia Hope could remain in hospital for up to three weeks as she recovers from viral meningitis. Hope was...

Schillaci Stakes winner to gain entry into The Everest

The turf wars between Victoria and NSW appear to be softening with the winner of the Schillaci Stakes at Caulfield...

Trainer Ben Currie has ban reduced

Toowoomba trainer Ben Currie has had his disqualification on racing convictions further reduced while his criminal fraud charges have been...

Veteran trainer remains in critical condition

Veteran trainer Bruce Purcell remains in a critical condition, three days after being airlifted to a Melbourne hospital with serious...

Australian Bookmaker Reviews

Which bookmaker should you bet with? We Review each of the leading online Australian Bookmakers and rate them in order...

Copyright © 2019 Just Horse Racing.
All rights reserved - Privacy Policy

Gamble Responsibly 18+
*State exclusions apply to some offers. Please check T&Cs of each offer with the bookmaker. All Offers Exclude NSW residents.