Eight people in the southern Australian state of Victoria face charges under the Rules of Racing following an inquiry into the raceday treatment of horses centering on the alleged use of an alkalising agent and/or medications.
Stewards with Racing Victoria this week issued charges against Robert Smerdon, a trainer; Greg Nelligan, a stable employee; Denise Nelligan, a stable employee; Stuart Webb, a trainer; Daniel Garland, an employee of Smerdon; Tony Vasil, a trainer;Trent Pennuto, a trainer, and Liam Birchley, a trainer.
The charges collectively relate to alleged treatments involving many horses.
Robert Smerdon and Greg Nelligan are charged in relation to raceday treatments allegedly given to more than 100 horses between 2010 and 2017.
Stewards have the power to stand down participants before any hearing. They are said to be considering the participants’ continued involvement in racing pending further legal advice.
The charges against the eight individuals will be heard by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board on a date to be fixed.
Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson says his organisation’s primary aim is to protect racing’s integrity and enforce the rules, ensuring a level playing and the health and welfare of all horses competing in Victoria thoroughbred contests.
“These are very serious allegations and the Racing Victoria Integrity Services Department and our stewards have worked swiftly to fully investigate these matters.”
The investigation began after a compliance officer saw the alleged raceday treatment of a horse named Lovani on October 7, 2017, when it was to race in the Paris Lane Handicap over 1400 metres at Flemington Racecourse. It prompted a wide-ranging investigation that resulted in the laying of charges this week.
Lovani was withdrawn from the race by the order of stewards.
The stewards’ report can be read here.