Smerdon, Webb Agree to Stand Down in Lovani Inquiry


Trainers Robert Smerdon and Stuart Webb, under scrutiny for the raceday treatment of the Smerdon-conditioned Lovani (Aus) (Lonhro {Aus}) last October, have agreed to stand down pending an investigation, Racing and Sports reports. The duo, who train under the Aquanita Racing banner, will have the horses under their care transferred to trainers including Robert Hickmott, Henry Dwyer, John Sadler and Nick Ryan at Caulfield over the next 10 days to two weeks.

Racing Victoria stewards have also charged trainers Tony Vasil and Liam Birchley, with four other Smerdon employees asked to show cause. An eighth person charged, a former Vasil employee, is already disqualified for similar wrong doing.

With the announcement that they will stand down, Smerdon and Webb will be restricted in the same was as suspended licensees.

Peter Howell, the chairman of Aquanita, said in a release that the organisation would consult with Smerdon and Webb and its owners to decide jointly where the horses will end up.

“With these multiple Group 1-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,” the release stated.

Howell indicated that the Aquanita brand will be discontinued and that the company is to be renamed.


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