Greg Nelligan admits betting was a motivation in Aquanita scandal – Racenet

Greg Nelligan admitted aiming to personally profit from betting on doped horses with an unfair advantage was one of the reasons he agreed to administer illegal raceday treatments for those in the Aquanita ‘circle of trust’.

However, Nelligan then claimed he was only a $50 punter and betting on horses that he had treated was only a small factor in his motivation.

Nelligan, the stablehand at the centre of the ‘Aquanita eight’ doping conspiracy who has been banned from racing for life, also insisted he was unaware of specific bets on doped horses by other now banned members of the Aquanita group.

Nelligan was subpoenaed to give evidence by Racing Victoria lawyers during of the appeals hearing of banned trainers Robert Smerdon, Stuart Webb, Liam Birchley and Tony Vasil at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Racing Victoria legal counsel Jeff Gleeson quizzed Nelligan on Tuesday morning on why he had sought to give the impression to VCAT that he had embarked on the illegal scheme “because Smerdon asked you” when it was also about profiting on the punt.

“I’m only a $50 punter but everything is relevant I suppose,” Nelligan said, under questioning from Gleeson.

“I’m not a big enough punter (for this) to make any difference to my life.

“I just enjoyed the punt. There could be a time when I bet once a week, twice a week.”

“Most likely, yes (betting was one of the motivations).

“The punting wasn’t an issue in my mind. A friend (Robert Smerdon) asked me to do it and I did it.

“Punting was never something I was too concerned about.”

Gleeson pushed the point with Nelligan, referring to a text message from a trainer which referred to being left out of information regarding topping up a horse and the bets on that horse.

Nelligan claimed there wasn’t an organised betting cartel on the doped horses.

He was then asked by Gleeson why there were so many text messages between the group referring to betting on horses.

“If I asked (Smerdon) if he backed him (a horse) and he said he didn’t, that was it,” Nelligan said.

“I never asked them (other Aquanita banned parties) about their betting. I don’t know anything about their betting.”

Nelligan later admitted Smerdon had placed bets on his behalf on several occasions.

Nelligan also admitted to having a $100 bet on one of the doped horses in 2016 and Gleeson suggested that would have been a big bet for someone who at the time was earning about $65,000-$70,000.

As he did a day earlier, Nelligan prefaced all his answers at VCAT with the phrase “I claim that the answer I give may tend to incriminate me” with reference to any potential further litigation.

Nelligan maintained, as he did a day earlier, that there were plenty of occasions in which he had not gone ahead with a plan to illegally treat horses.

Smerdon has been disqualified for life and fined $90,000 by the RAD Board after having more than 100 charges of illegal doping proven against him.

He is one of four trainers to appeal the bans along with Stuart Webb (four years), Tony Vasil (three years) and Liam Birchley (one year), stemming from 271 charges to seven licensed persons for various race day treatment offences.

Greg Nelligan’s wife Denise, banned for life over the scheme, is also expected to be in the witness box on Tuesday.

* Due to the ongoing nature of the appeal, comments have been turned off *

Read all News by Ben Dorries