Smerdon, Webb to stand down from training

Smerdon, Webb to stand down from training

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Group One-winning trainers Robert Smerdon and Stuart Webb have agreed to stand down pending the hearing into serious charges against them relating to race day treatments.

Smerdon employees Denise Nelligan and Daniel Garland will also stand down while trainers Tony Vasil and Liam Birchley along with Greg Nelligan have been issued show cause notices as to why they should not stand down.

The eighth person charged, trainer Trent Pennuto, is already serving a disqualification for stomach tubing a horse.


12 January 2018
Robert Smerdon and Stuart Webb voluntarily stand down from training

“Aquanita trainers Robert Smerdon and Stuart Webb have been considering their position in relation to charges levied against them by Racing Victoria stewards on Tuesday, 9 January.

“After much consideration, being mindful of their responsibilities to staff and owners, and in the broader interests of racing, they have decided to stand down from their training duties at Aquanita and within their respective businesses, effective Monday, 15 January. Staff that have also had charges levied against them are also standing down.

“As well as contacting owners to advise them of this decision, we are in the process of allocating training responsibilities to Rob Hickmott, Henry Dwyer, John Sadler and Nick Ryan. With these multiple Group One winning trainers, we have every confidence the horses trained by Robert and Stuart will receive outstanding training and care.

“As part of the transition, we will provide owners with options and advice regarding the most suitable trainer for their horse, with guidance from Robert and Stuart. The most important point is that every horse will receive outstanding care and training, irrespective of their trainer. We are aiming to have this transition completed by 22 January.

“Those charged are entitled to natural justice, which includes the presumption of innocence. It is for this reason we have decided it is fair and appropriate that they continue to be paid pending the outcome of future hearings or changes in circumstances.

“We have a clear responsibility to owners and staff to give our horses the best possible chance of success on the racetrack, which requires trainers to be fully focussed on preparing horses for racing. Robert and Stuart’s decision allows them to focus on their response to the charges, whilst their horses continue to receive outstanding training.

“The management and care of our owners’ horses continues to be our priority and we appreciate the continued support of all owners during this difficult situation.

“It is important to note the distinction between Aquanita Management Services (AMS) and the training side of the operation. AMS provides finance, taxation, OH&S and other administrative services to contracted trainers, who are ultimately personally responsible for the horses in their care and compliance with rules of racing. Going forward, these services will be provided under a new name, with the Aquanita brand to be discontinued.

“We will continue to keep our owners and other stakeholders informed of future developments, especially as it relates to horses and their training.”

Peter Howell

Credit: AAP


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