Statement from Racing Victoria Chief Executive re Aquanita Case

Racing Victoria (RV) Chief Executive, Giles Thompson, on Wednesday evening issued the following statement regarding Wednesday's media reporting and associated commentary on the Aquanita Case:

“Racing Victoria’s primary objective is to protect the integrity of the sport and to enforce the Australian Rules of Racing, ensuring both a level playing field for all and the health and welfare of all horses competing in Victorian thoroughbred races.

“We are committed to the highest levels of integrity to ensure that those in the minority who seek to breach the Rules of Racing and undermine our sport are detected, investigated and ultimately prosecuted.

“We have invested heavily in enhancing our integrity systems in recent years, including more than $8 million in 2017 to significantly boost the capability and resources for our Integrity Department. This has seen an increase in the number of stable inspections and a greater ability to monitor on-course activity.

“It is our enhanced capability that led to the detection of a licensed person allegedly administering, or attempting to administer, a raceday treatment last October. This resulted in an exhaustive investigation over four months that involved the gathering of a considerable amount of evidence.

“From all of the evidence before them, our stewards issued multiple charges against seven Victorian licensees and one visiting Queensland licensee six weeks ago. In accordance with standard legal practice and in the interests of natural justice, the stewards’ brief of evidence was provided to those charged.

“As this case is scheduled to be heard by the independent Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board on 30 April, it would be inappropriate and potentially prejudicial for me to comment on the particulars of this case, including any evidence that may have been obtained and relied upon to issue the charges.

“What I will say is that the stewards do not intend to issue any further charges at this time based on the body of evidence currently before them. Should further evidence come to light that would substantiate the laying of additional charges then the stewards will act upon that.

“While it is never our desire to be on the front page of daily newspapers for integrity or equine welfare-related matters, we won’t shy away from our role in protecting the integrity of the sport and the welfare of our horses to ensure that the vast majority of our hard-working, passionate and committed participants who abide by the Rules of Racing can do so on a level playing field.”