Aquanita is in the news for all the wrong reasons at the moment, and for now it is only the trainers and stable staff who have been charged.

Surely if the Racing Victoria Integrity Unit is fair dinkum they will show the ticker to charge the owners of the Aquanita operation as well.

After all, they are the ones making all the money.

This is who they are.

Robert Smerdon is of course the head trainer for the company. He’s said to be a real good bloke but he’s in a world of pain right now.

Michael (Mike) Symons is an old money Melbourne yuppie who is the founder and a Director of Canterbury Partners, a big money corporate advisory group (investment bank). Among other things they are the financier and financial advisers to Sportsbet.

Symons is the Chairman of the Melbourne Racing Club, the amalgam of the old VATC and MRC that owns and runs Caulfield, Sandown and Mornington racecourses, and is a Director variously of:

  • the MRC’s investment arm Melbourne Racing Club Investments Pty Ltd
  • TVN
  • John Sadler Racing (Sadler is presently serving a suspension until 5 February for his conduct after the scratching of Observational from the Eclipse Stakes in November)
  • Thoroughbred Gaming Group Pty Ltd, the poker machine investment arm of the MRC (Whimpey Dave eat your heart out)

This bloke is obviously Nifty Nev’s role model, for the BRC Chairman has followed the fella’s lead in pursuing the sale and/or lease of race club land under a ‘joint venture’ style arrangement, ostensibly to create a future non-racing revenue stream to support the clubs operations, and also appears to be in a swinging dick competition with his to see who can have the worlds biggest infield big screen.

Thanks to the generosity of BRC members and the Queensland taxpayer Nifty has his nose in front at the moment, but it’s a pyrrhic victory because Caulfield actually has a track to race on and thus can show live horse racing on its giant sized screen. We just get reruns of bad old Christmas movies.


David Trussler is a multi-millionaire who made his fortune as one of Melbourne’s leading advertising men.

The owner of the Stogursey Farm agistment property, he is Chairman of breeding advisory company Matchem Genetics and a Director of the leading syndication group Champion Thoroughbreds, which means that he is close to trainers Danny O’Brien and John O’Shea who train the company’s horses.

John O’Shea of course was fined $30 000 a few months back for covering up an outbreak of the potentially catastrophic Strangles virus in the Godolphin stables during his short-lived tenure as lead trainer for the international racing operation, and Danny O’Brien last year had a 4 year ban for cobalt related offences controversially overturned on appeal.

Trussler was also a founder of Malua Racing, the stables of Leon and Troy Corstens, and served until 2014 as the Chairman of that operation.

Leon Corstens has been convicted on at least seven occasions for positive swab offences and has served a number of suspensions and disqualifications in relation to the matters, including an 18 month lag in 2005 for presenting a horse to race at Warnambool with illegal levels of TCO2 (bi-carb), and a further 6 months in 2010 for using a drug named Altrenogest on the brilliant young sprinter Star Spangled Banner.

Peter Howell owns Enak Pty Ltd. He is the founder and long-time Chairman of Aquanita Racing, is a former builder turned professional punter.

He must go alright on the punt too because he lives in a $3 million penthouse apartment opposite the Melbourne Botanical Gardens.

Kim Mckellar is the owner of Wyndholm Park Pty Ltd and in shades of our very own Nifty Nev he and his wife Liz live on and operate the stud of the same name that stands four ordinary stallions including Sports Edition and Rebel Raider.

A former chairman of the Ballarat and current Director of Country Racing Victoria, McKellar is Aquanita Racing’s chief vet.

All in all they are a pretty powerful bunch, and given Terry Bailey’s track record of not getting much right I wouldn’t be backing the stewards to beat them with your money.