Race 7 — 4:20PM INGLIS VILLIERS STAKES (1600 METRES). Winner 'Crack me Up' ridden by Jason Collett. Trained by Liam Birchley. (NEWS CORP/Simon Bullard)
Race 7 — 4:20PM INGLIS VILLIERS STAKES (1600 METRES). Winner 'Crack me Up' ridden by Jason Collett. Trained by Liam Birchley. (NEWS CORP/Simon Bullard)

RV weighs evidence as Lovani probe widens

RACING Victoria integrity staff continue to sift through significant evidence as the ­investigation into an alleged doping scandal deepens.

Stewards will not detail the lines of inquiry, other than to confirm the Lovani probe is ongoing.

A total of 271 charges have already been laid against eight people, including leading trainers Robert Smerdon, Tony Vasil, Liam Birchley and Stuart Webb.

Current and former Aquanita Racing employees Greg and Denise Nelligan and Danny Garland also have been charged, along with Mornington trainer Trent Pennuto.

Trainer Liam Birchley is expected to fly to Melbourne next week to show cause why he should not be stood down. Picture: Simon Bullard
Trainer Liam Birchley is expected to fly to Melbourne next week to show cause why he should not be stood down. Picture: Simon Bullard

Smerdon faces 115 counts of engaging "in a practice that was dishonest, corrupt or fraudulent, improper or dishonourable, in that he was a party to the administration of alkalinising agents and/or medications to a horse or horses on a race day" during a seven-year period.

Fellow Group 1-winning trainers Vasil, Webb and Birchley face several counts under the same charge, as do Pennuto, Garland, and Greg and Denise Nelligan.

Smerdon, Webb, Denise Nelligan and Garland have voluntarily stood down.

Show-cause notices have been issued to Vasil, Birchley and Greg Nelligan, who no longer works for Aquanita.

Birchley is expected to fly to Melbourne next week to show cause why he should not be stood down.

Trainer Robert Smerdon has been hit with 115 charges by Racing Victoria in the Lovani inquiry.
Trainer Robert Smerdon has been hit with 115 charges by Racing Victoria in the Lovani inquiry.

The Queenslander faces charges that on three occasions between 2011 and 2015, he "engaged in a practice that was dishonest, corrupt or fraudulent in that he was a party to the administration of alkalinising agents and/or medications to a horse or horses on race day".

Pennuto is already serving a disqualification.

All of the charges so far stem from an investigation into the alleged treatment of Smerdon's mare Lovani at Flemington on October 7.

Greg Nelligan faces 123 counts relating to alleged ­illegal race-date treatment, plus several other charges, including backing horses to lose.

The hearing is not likely to be held until late February or early March.



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