VCAT Decision on Aquanita Appeals

Racing Victoria (RV) advises that it received notification in writing late this afternoon from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) on its decisions regarding the appeals lodged by trainers Robert Smerdon, Stuart Webb, Tony Vasil and Liam Birchley in the Aquanita Case.

VCAT advised that it has found Smerdon, Vasil and Webb guilty of breaching Australian Rule of Racing 229 (1)(a) for dishonest, corrupt, fraudulent, improper or dishonourable practice in that they were party to the administration of alkalinising agents and/or medications to a horse or horses on raceday.

VCAT has allowed the appeal by Birchley finding him not guilty.

VCAT has listed an administrative mention for mid-October which is likely to deal with the scheduling of any further penalty hearings resulting from today’s decision.

Racing Victoria Executive General Manager - Integrity Services, Jamie Stier, said: “Our primary objective is to uphold the integrity of the sport and to enforce the Rules of Racing to ensure that every horse is able to compete on a level playing field.

“We welcome the Tribunal’s decision to find Robert Smerdon, Tony Vasil and Stuart Webb guilty of serious offences that have undermined the integrity of the sport.

“We acknowledge the Tribunal’s decision regarding the appeal by Liam Birchley and, having just received notification of their decision, we will now take our time to carefully review the judgement before considering our options.”

The four trainers were appealing the May 2018 decisions of the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board in which Smerdon was disqualified for life and fined $90,000; Webb was disqualified for four years; Vasil was disqualified for three years and Birchley was disqualified for one year.

Stable employees Greg and Denise Nelligan, who were each disqualified for life; trainer Trent Pennuto who was disqualified for two years; and stable employee Daniel Garland who was disqualified for one year by the RAD Board as part of the Aquanita Case did not lodge appeals.

All parties have 28 days in which to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Victoria.