Aquanita Case – Owners FAQs

The Aquanita case involves the decisions of the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board (RAD Board) on 8 May 2018 and/or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) on 13 September 2019 and 31 December 2019, in which seven licensed and registered persons who worked for or had worked for Aquanita Racing were ultimately disqualified. 

Following the 30 January 2020 closure of the VCAT appeal window, Racing Victoria Stewards were required to give careful consideration under the Rules of Racing as to whether they would exercise their powers to disqualify any implicated horses. 

Having thoroughly analysed the available evidence, the Stewards published their preliminary decisions on 7 July 2020 including the starters considered for disqualification.

Each managing owner (or their representative) of the starters preliminarily considered for disqualification were granted the opportunity to show cause on 7 July 2020 and again on 14 December 2020 as to why their horse ought not be disqualified.

Having thoroughly considered those submissions, the Stewards published their final determination on 16 March 2021 to disqualify 72 starters. 

On the same day, the Racing Victoria Board announced that it would not exercise its discretionary powers to demand the repayment of prizemoney won by the disqualified starters, except from the trainers who were disqualified in the Aquanita case.

To read the full media release of 16 March 2020 please click here.

Following are links to the RAD Board and VCAT decisions in the Aquanita case:

Which starters have been disqualified by the Stewards?

Please click here to view a list of the 72 starters (including the relevant track, date and race number) disqualified by the Racing Victoria Stewards (as published on 16 March 2021).

What happens to the result of these races in which an Aquanita starter has been disqualified?
Pursuant to AR 274, where a starter is disqualified from a particular race, the placings will be amended and prizes (including prizemoney) are to be awarded as though the disqualified horse had not started in the race.  
Will Racing Victoria pay prizemoney to the connections of those horses who competed against a disqualified Aquanita starter?
Yes. The owners, trainers and jockeys of horses who finished behind the disqualified starter will be paid by RV the balance of any prizemoney owing based on the amended placings, so long as they are eligible to receive prizemoney. 

The amendment of placings and the payment of the balance of any prizemoney owed based on the amended placings are subject to the expiration of any affected party's appeal rights.
Do the owners of disqualified starters have to pay back their prizemoney?
Following the decision of the Stewards to disqualify 72 starters, the Racing Victoria Board had to determine whether it would exercise its rights under AR 224 to issue a demand that any prizemoney won and paid to the owner(s), jockey and trainer of a disqualified starter in a race in question be repaid to RV.

Having thoroughly considered the matter, the RV Board determined that it would not exercise its discretionary powers and demand the repayment of prizemoney, except from trainers Robert Smerdon, Stuart Webb and Tony Vasil who were disqualified during the Aquanita case. 

In making its determination, the Board was ultimately guided by the principle of what is in the best overall interests of Victorian racing and a desire to apply a consistent determination for owners across all disqualified starters.  

The Board considered many factors in making its determination including the circumstances of the case; the conduct in question; the punishment dealt to the offenders by the Tribunals; the large period of time during which the conduct occurred and prizemoney was paid; and the show cause submissions from owners. 
My horse raced against a disqualified Aquanita starter. When will I get paid my prizemoney based on amended placings?
This will ultimately depend on the expiration of any affected party’s appeal rights. Owner, trainers and jockeys entitled to upgraded prizemoney will be paid as soon as practicable following the expiry of all appeal periods.
If the owner of a disqualified starter lodges an appeal, how long will it take?
While this will depend in part on the nature of any appeal lodged, the upper limit for lodgement of all available appeals processes is 60 days. Should an appeal be lodged the timing of its conclusion will be subject to the processes of the relevant court.
My horse raced against a disqualified Aquanita starter. How will I know if they have appealed?
RV will contact the managing owners of all horses promoted as a result of these disqualifications after 15 May 2021 (being 60 days after 16 March 2021) to advise the prizemoney they will be paid or whether their race is the subject of an appeal. Owners, trainers and jockeys entitled to upgraded prizemoney will be paid as soon as practicable following the expiry of all appeal periods.
My horse is being upgraded as a result of the disqualification of an Aquanita starter. How can I find out how much prizemoney I will receive?
RV will pay the balance of any prizemoney owing based on the amended placings to those owners, trainers and jockeys that are eligible to receive prizemoney upon the expiration of any appeal rights. For example, if a horse is being elevated from second to first place, connections will be paid the difference between the second prizemoney they have already been paid and the first prizemoney they are now entitled to receive. 

RV will contact the managing owners of all horses promoted as a result of these disqualifications after 15 May 2021 (being 60 days after 16 March 2021) to advise the prizemoney they will be paid or whether their race is the subject of an appeal. Owners, trainers and jockeys entitled to upgraded prizemoney will be paid as soon as practicable following the expiry of all appeal periods.