By: Leo Schlink
TONY Vasil is the latest trainer to be interviewed by Racing Victoria integrity staff as an investigation into alleged race-day treatment nears an end.
It is understood stewards are close to laying charges over the alleged treatment of Robert Smerdon’s mare Lovani at Flemington on October 7.
Lawyers acting for Racing Victoria will decide whether stewards have sufficient information to issue charges against several licensed figures.
The Herald Sun has been told information obtained in forensic searches of mobile phones and a host of interviews points to systemic cheating.
Stewards have taken evidence from Aquanita Racing float driver Greg Nelligan, who was allegedly caught attempting to use a plunger on Lovani in a closed stall as champion mare Winx took to the track for the Turnbull Stakes.
Nelligan and Smerdon were interviewed at Flemington on the day and again since.
It is understood a close associate of Nelligan has provided compelling evidence to stewards.
Several trainers, including one from Queensland, have been quizzed during the inquiry, along with Aquanita board members.
One Mornington trainer is believed to have co-operated fully with stewards, while officials continue to probe the possible involvement of other country-based trainers.
One trainer is known to have circulated images of RV’s compliance team staff and their vehicles to staff.
Vasil was formerly part of Aquanita Racing, which provides managerial services to several horsemen including Smerdon, Stuart Webb and John Sadler, who was last month suspended after clashing with stewards.
Vasil’s runners were banned after the Group 1-winning trainer was unable to be interviewed over the Lovani case because of illness.
Chief steward Terry Bailey said he had since been interviewed and the ban on his horses had been removed.
Vasil will saddle Kedleston in the 3YO+ Plate (1200m) at Mornington on Monday.