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The case against Robert Smerdon will proceed as scheduled

The Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board has determined it has the jurisdiction to hear the charges in the Aquanita case against former trainer Robert Smerdon.

Counsel for Smerdon, Tim McHenry, challenged the jurisdiction of the RAD Board to hear the 115 charges against Smerdon.

On Tuesday the RAD Board heard further submissions from McHenry and those of Racing Victoria stewards over the Board’s ability to hear the case.

Both had earlier supplied the RAD Board with written submissions.

In his submissions McHenry said as Smerdon had surrendered his licence and was therefore no longer a licensed trainer the hearing should not be held before the RAD Board.

Stewards countered by saying Smerdon’s alleged offences occurred while he was licensed.

RAD Board chairman Judge John Bowman said because he was licensed at the time, Smerdon was bound by the rules.

“We do not accept Robert Smerdon can escape the consequences of his behaviour by the surrender of his (trainer’s) licence,” he said.

Bowman said there were two types of person involved in racing, a licensed person and a relevant person.

He described a relevant person as anyone who takes part in racing adding that Smerdon fell into both categories after an amendment to the Racing Act in 2013.

“It is our view that with Mr Smerdon holding a contract with Racing Victoria and with the relevant changes to the racing act, the RAD Board can hear the charges,” Bowman said.

Smerdon is one of eight people charged under an Australian racing rule dealing with dishonest, corrupt or fraudulent, improper or dishonourable action.

Stewards said on 115 occasions between 2010 and 2017, he was a party to the administration of alkalinising agents and/or medications to a horse or horses on a race day.

The charges emanated from an investigation into the scratching of Lovani over an alleged race day treatment at Flemington on October 7 last year.

Smerdon late last month surrendered his trainers’ licence and indicated he would not attend the RAD Board hearing.

Two other central figures, former Smerdon employees Greg and Denise Nelligan, have also said they will not appear at the inquiry.

The RAD Board is set to begin the hearing in the County Court on April 30.

 
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