Racing Victoria Chairman Giles Thompson says proceedings against those charged will be applied swiftly.
Racing Victoria Chairman Giles Thompson says proceedings against those charged will be applied swiftly.

Smerdon pushes on amid storm

BESIEGED trainer Robert Smerdon said for the moment "it's business as usual" after being hit with 115 charges by Racing Victoria in the Lovani inquiry.

Smerdon is at the Gold Coast Magic Millions Sales and said he still hadn't come to terms with the amount of charges he had to face.

Smerdon said he wouldn't comment until he had discussed the brief of evidence against him with his lawyer Tony Hannebery.

"He's been on leave and I'm in Queensland so I'll discuss it with him next week and we'll take it from there," Smerdon said.

Smerdon was one of five trainers charged by stewards with a cumulative 271 offences relating to systematic doping of horses. The other trainers are Tony Vasil, Stuart Webb, Liam Birchley and Trent Pennuto.

Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said a decision by stewards whether to stand down the eight participants would be imminent.

Thompson said stewards would receive their legal advice on whether they can stand down those charged "in the next day or two".

 

Trainer was one of the men charged by Racing Victoria stewards on Tuesday.
Trainer was one of the men charged by Racing Victoria stewards on Tuesday.

 

"It will be in days, not weeks," Thompson said on RSN on Wednesday.

Australian Trainers' Association chief executive Andrew Nicholl said standing down the trainers would be "an extreme step".

"Pre-meditated actions which breach the Rules of Racing, including the use of medicines and therapeutics to enhance racehorse performance, cannot and must not be tolerated in racing," Nicholl said.

He said trainers should be entitled to a presumption of innocence and referred to the recent cobalt cases where the trainers weren't stood down.

Nicholl pointed out that the Lovani charges weren't a true representation of the local industry with the vast majority of participants abiding by the rules.

He pointed out that between June 30, 2016 and December 31, RV conducted 12,000 swabs of which 43 were positive.

 

Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson says the trainers charged will know soon whether they will be stood down or not. Picture: Hamish Blair
Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson says the trainers charged will know soon whether they will be stood down or not. Picture: Hamish Blair

 

"Of these 20 were a result of either contamination or human error," he said. "Then among the remaining 23 some were the result of horses being given anti-inflammatories for welfare reasons."

Nicholl said he had spoken to ATA president Robbie Griffiths who was shocked by the depth of the charges.

Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne said "all any racing participant wants is a level playing field".

Fellow trainer Mat Ellerton tweeted that if some of the participants are found guilty they should get life bans.



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