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Birchley, Vasil win stays of Aquanita bans

Liam Birchley and Tony Vasil can continue training while they appeal their disqualifications over the Aquanita race day treatments case.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on Friday granted stays of Birchley’s one-year disqualification and Vasil’s three-year ban pending the outcome of their appeals.

Birchley will be allowed to train horses in his home state until his appeal has been determined, with the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission to implement the Victorian decision.

His barrister Michael Grant-Taylor QC had argued the Queensland trainer faced extraordinary financial circumstances that were far-reaching and ruinous if he remained disqualified.

VCAT deputy president Heather Lambrick said the integrity of racing was of vital public importance but noted the ample evidence about the impact the disqualification would have on Birchley.

“It is relevant in these circumstances to note that although it is important to protect the public interest in the integrity of racing, it is of some note that that applicant does have an unblemished record over a lengthy training career,” she said.

Lambrick also said it was not impossible that a significant proportion of Birchley’s one-year ban may have been already served by the time his appeal has a final hearing in VCAT.

The QRIC, which had enforced the one-year ban imposed by Victoria’s Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board, said it would abide by the VCAT stay decision.

Birchley, a prominent Brisbane trainer, has more than 60 horses in work.

Six of Birchley’s horses have been transferred to trainer Toby Edmonds but are expected to be returned to him.

Lambrick also granted Vasil’s stay application, partly due to the Victorian trainer’s health.

Vasil currently has five horses in training.

“His life revolves around horse training and being involved with horses,” Vasil’s barrister Patrick Wheelahan told VCAT.

Racing Victoria opposed the stay applications.

Birchley and Vasil were among eight people disqualified over the Aquanita race day treatment scandal.

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