Smerdon denies involvement in Oliver bet
Mike Hedge
06:45 AEST Fri Feb 8 2013

Prominent Victorian trainer Robert Smerdon played a fundamental role in an illegal bet placed by jockey Damien Oliver on a rival horse and should be dealt with accordingly, a racing tribunal has heard.

Smerdon is charged with engaging in conduct prejudicial to the image of racing by passing on the proceeds of Oliver's bet from the man who placed it to the jockey.

It is alleged that when punter and form analyst Mark Hunter gave Smerdon a "wad of money" to pass on to Oliver, he should have realised it had something to do with a bet.

Counsel for Racing Victoria stewards, Dr Cliff Pannam, told the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board that by agreeing to be an intermediary in the process, Smerdon had "taken his chances".

"The most important part of the process is facilitated by Mr Smerdon," Dr Pannam told the Board.

He said a member of the public would be entitled to believe Smerdon knew what the money was for.

"It looks red hot," he said.

The charges stem from the bet Oliver - who was riding a rival horse - placed on Miss Octopussy in a race that horse won at Moonee Valley in October 2010.

Oliver is serving a 10-month ban after admitting he placed the bet through Hunter who later passed on the winnings to Smerdon to give to the jockey.

At Thursday's hearing, Smerdon's counsel David Grace submitted there was no case to answer.

He said the stewards relied on "speculation, imperfect proofs and insufficient evidence".

"Mr Smerdon shouldn't be called on to answer the charges," Grace said.

"There is absolutely no evidence before you."

Smerdon told the Board that Hunter was an old friend and a client who had asked him to do him a favour by passing on around $11,000 to Oliver who he expected to meet during trackwork.

He said he didn't ask what the money was for or from where it had come.

"I respected their privacy," he told the Board.

Smerdon said he had no knowledge of jockeys betting and denied knowingly acting as an intermediary in a breach of the rules of racing.

Asked what he thought the money may have been for, Smerdon said he thought it may have been a loan from Hunter to Oliver.

Grace also questioned why stewards had failed to charge Oliver and Hunter with the same offence alleged against Smerdon.

The inquiry has been adjourned to a date to be fixed.

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