AQUANITA EIGHT BANNED OVER BIGGEST SCANDAL IN AUSTRALIAN RACING HISTORY
WHAT DID THEY DO?
Five trainers and three stable employees, all connected to management company Aquanita Racing, administered race day treatments or “top-ups” of bi-carb and tripart paste to horses for more than 100 races over seven years.
Sodium bicarbonate buffers the build-up of lactic acid so helps the horse run longer rather than faster.
HOW DID IT UNFOLD?
Aquanita float driver Greg Nelligan was “caught red handed” inserting a syringe in Robert Smerdon-trained Lovani’s mouth on Turnbull Stakes Day last October.
Stewards downloaded more than 70,000 text messages from his mobile phone – about 1000 texts over seven years put in evidence.
ROBERT SMERDON – Banned for life
* Multiple Group-One winning trainer; Aquanita director and shareholder
* RAD Board said Smerdon was the driving force behind the conspiracy along with Nelligan
GREG NELLIGAN – life
* Smerdon’s former stablehand and float driver; also former employee of trainer Tony Vasil
* RADB described Nelligan as architect and promoter of top-ups scheme
* Found guilty of administering illegal top-ups to horses on 123 occasions over seven years, almost always on race days and predominantly at metropolitan tracks
DENISE NELLIGAN – life
* Greg’s wife; also Smerdon stablehand and former Vasil employee
* Ultimately “blew the whistle” when confessed to stewards top-ups’ contents
* Relayed instructions, made at least some of the top-ups.
STUART WEBB – four years
* Group One-winning trainer; Smerdon employee
* Guilty over three occasions
TONY VASIL – three years
* Group One-winning trainer
* Guilty over seven occasions
TRENT PENNUTO – two years
* Former trainer; was Vasil’s foreman
* Guilty over four occasions
LIAM BIRCHLEY – one year
* Queensland trainer who was a “non-paying customer” of top-ups services
* Guilty over three occasions in Melbourne
DANIEL GARLAND – one year
* Employed by Smerdon or Aquanita as float driver
* Guilty over two occasions