Stays granted for Birchley and Vasil

Former Aquanita trainers Liam Birchley and Tony Vasil have both been granted stays of proceedings to allow them to continue training pending the hearing of their appeals against disqualifications to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

VCAT Vice President Heather Lambrick gave the orders on Friday that both trainers were entitled to attempt to clear their names, after Vasil was given a three-year disqualification and Birchley a one-year ban last week by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board.

It is anticipated that the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission will adopt Friday's VCAT ruling, paving the way for Birchley to continue to train horses from his home base in Brisbane.

As part of his submission on a stay for Vasil, his legal counsel Patrick Wheelahan said his client agreed to conditions that he was willing to train under the former arrangement with Racing Victoria where it held all prizemoney percentage earned by him until the case is determined finally.

If he is found guilty, he will forfeit all his trainer's percentage earnings.

Earlier the tribunal heard that the RAD Board's reasons for its decisions regarding the 'Aquanita Eight' were 'unsophisticated' and involved a 'demonstrable error' regarding the actual administration of bi-carbonate.

Michael Grant-Taylor, who is representing Birchley, told the tribunal that RV's evidence of an actual administration of bi-carb was 'scarce' and that the RAD Board had erred in that respect.

Wheelahan agreed with Grant-Taylor's description of the RAD Board's reasons for the decisions, describing them as 'pithy' and 'wholly inadequate'.

He said the RAD Board had decided Vasil, who was present at Friday's application hearing, was guilty despite there not being a single text message from the trainer proving his involvement.

Wheelahan said the RAD Board relied on the text messages from Greg and Denise Nelligan, who he said were 'untruthful' and 'unreliable persons'.

Lambrick said she noted the case and evidence against Vasil was 'more circumstantial' than that of Birchley.

Jeff Gleeson, QC, representing Racing Victoria, said both applicants presented 'hollow submissions' and one that did not deal with the fact they were disqualified largely under 175 (a), which deals with dishonourable and corrupt conduct.

Gleeson said that whether the administration of bi-carb was actual administration or attempted administration still amounted to 'dishonourable conduct'.

Lambrick indicated a directions hearing for the appeals would be held in about four weeks.

Vasil and Birchley are the only two of the eight persons disqualified in last week's Aquanita ruling to seek a stay pending an appeal, but the other six still have until the second week of June to lodge an appeal.