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Aquanita driver admits race day treatments

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Greg Nelligan has admitted giving race day treatments to horses trained by Robert Smerdon (above).

The stablehand at the centre of the ‘Aquanita eight’ doping conspiracy has admitted giving horses illegal race day treatments in agreement with trainer Robert Smerdon.

Float driver Greg Nelligan said he and Smerdon had an agreement that a “top-up” would mean more than giving horses extra food and water.

“Between Robert and myself it later became a signal to do a race day treatment,” Nelligan told the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on Monday.

Nelligan said that agreement over the meaning of a top-up was only between himself and Smerdon.

He said he only actually administered sodium bicarbonate and Tripart paste top-ups to horses 10, 15 or 20 times, because he feared getting caught.

“The actual times that I did it was far less than people believe.”

Nelligan, subpoenaed to give evidence to Smerdon and three other trainers’ appeals against their disqualifications, said Smerdon would ring if he wanted a race day treatment.

The stewards’ case relied on 1000 text messages found on Nelligan’s mobile after he was caught inserting a syringe into the Smerdon-trained Lovani’s mouth on Turnbull Stakes day in October 2017.

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