Aquanita investigation continues as trainers to stand down
|Aquanita investigation continues as trainers to stand down - 15th Jan 2018|
Aquanita investigation continues as trainers to stand down|
Despite having stood down leading trainers Robert Smerdon and Stuart Webb, pressure still remains on the beleaguered Aquanita training centre and its operations.
Fairfax Media understand that the investigation that commenced last October is still in full swing and will continue interviewing those involved in the racing drama that has rocked Australia.
It was first thought that when the 250 charges were issued against eight current and former Aquanita staff that the investigation had finished.
The probe is ongoing and the race mare that sparked one of Australia's greatest racing scandals, Lovani, was removed from the Smerdon stable and has joined Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup in Sydney.
Lovani, who is owned and bred by Kia Ora Stud, was the horse that was allegedly observed by stewards being taken into the swabbing stall at Flemington and being administered an oral substance to her mouth.
"She is an excellent pick up for my team. She's a Group Two winner and she looks like having an exciting career," Widdup said.
On Monday Smerdon, Webb and stablehand Danny Garland will officially stand down and during the past two days office staff have been busily relocating over 70 horses.
As horses of all ages and sex criss cross the city, some owners have decided to remain with the
Aquanita training centre.
While the brand name has been badly damaged in the last few weeks in a surprise move , former Racing Victoria committee person, Barbara Saunders, who owns Saturday's winner Al Dorama, and a number of other horses, has decided to remain with the training business after a long association.
However calls for Melbourne Racing Club chairman and Aquanita director, Mike Symons, to stand aside from his position continue.
A meeting of concerned Melbourne Racing Club members met on Saturday at Flemington races to explore the possibility of bringing on a spill of all positions.None of the group would comment to Fairfax media.
Members need 150 signatures to trigger a special general meeting. No such action is believed to have been enacted in the clubs history.
Melbourne Racing Club CEO Josh Blanksby said he was unaware of any meeting of members on Saturday, and added that Symons would not be standing aside as chairman while the inquiry continues.
Trainers Henry Dwyer and John Sadler will head up the new training operation. Sadler, the original architect of the Aquantita organisation, will commence work after he has served a six week suspension.
The scope and breadth of the charges have rarely been seen in Australian racing.
Smerdon and stable hand Greg Neligan have been charged with raceday treatments on more than 100 occasions and dating back over 10 years ago.
In addition to Smerdon the other Aquanita trainers or stablehands charged including Stuart Webb, Tony Vasil, Greg Neligan, his wife, Denise, Trent Pennuto and Aquanita's former Brisbane-based trainer Liam Birchley.
Amongst its stable of trainers Stuart Webb (three charges), Tony Vasil (seven charges) and Queensland-based Liam Birchley (three charges). All of these trainers are Group One trainers.
All have been charged with the serious charge of AR175a - alleged corrupt practices. The other Aquanita staff include Denise Neligan (13 charges), Danny Garland (two charges) and ex Aquanita employee Trent Penuto (four charges).
Article courtesy of Fairfax Digital and the Brisbane Times