Doping inquiry schedule unchanged: RV boss

Melbourne Cup exotics

The leaking of text exchanges between central figures allegedly involved in a horse racing doping scandal will not delay the start of hearings into case, Racing Victoria says.

A series of text messages reportedly sent by trainers and stable employees at centre of the inquiry were published by News Corp on Wednesday.

Among them were texts alluding to the treatment of horses in the 2015 Melbourne Cup.

But RV chief executive Giles Thompson said the revelations in the texts would not affect the progress of the inquiry and the governing body wants to stay within a Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board schedule.

“”We want to keep to that timetable and make sure we get through the process as quickly as possible and that means we have to apply ourselves and apply the resources to do that,” he told Melbourne radio station RSN927.

Prominent trainers Robert Smerdon, Stuart Webb, Tony Vasil and Liam Birchley have been charged following an investigation sparked by the alleged raceday treatment of the Smerdon-trained Lovani in October.

Disqualified trainer Trent Pennutto, as well as registered stablehands Greg Nelligan and Danny Garland and office worker Denise Nelligan, were also charged.

They face a total of 271 charges for offences dating back to 2010.

A second directions hearing is set down for March 1 with the inquiry scheduled to start on April 30.

Thompson said it was important for the hearing to be finalised as soon as possible to restore confidence in the Victorian racing industry.

“The vast majority of our participants and those that are involved in the sport do the right thing and love it for the sport that it is,” he said.

“(But) we don’t want to stick our head in the sand.”

It is illegal for horses to receive any treatment within one clear day of racing unless specifically approved by stewards.