On the eve of the Blue Diamond Stakes meeting at Caulfield, senior Lindsay Park trainer David Hayes says he would prefer to be talking about his runners in three Group One races.
Lindsay Park saddles favourite Long Leaf in the Blue Diamond along with three stablemates, and he has multiple runners in the other two Group One races. But today Hayes was forced to defend the sport he loves.
Over the past three days, News Corp has published a series of text messages reported to be between some of the eight parties charged in what has been labelled the Aquanita case by Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board chairman Judge John Bowman.
After an investigation sparked by the withdrawal of Lovani from a race at Flemington in October because of a suspected raceday treatment, her trainer Robert Smerdon was charged in January with offences dating back seven years.
Among the others charged are fellow trainers Stuart Webb, Tony Vasil and Liam Birchley, who have all operated at some time under the Aquanita Racing banner.
Disqualified trainer Trent Pennuto along with Greg Nelligan and Denise Nelligan, employees of Smerdon and former employees of Vasil, as well as another Smerdon employee Daniel Garland also face charges over the illegal raceday administration of alkalising agents (bicarb) to horses.
Hayes said he did not believe Victoria to be the only state where alleged cheating was occurring.
"The positive spin out of it all is RVL has spent millions and they've caught people (allegedly) cheating in Victoria," he said.
"I'm sure there's people cheating in other states, but they don't have the infrastructure to catch them, or the finance."
Hayes praised Racing Victoria for its handling of the matter.
"It took a long time to catch Lance Armstrong. It took seven Tour de Frances," he said. "I think Victoria is a lot better placed through a bit of bad publicity for the future.
"It (Victoria) is a great place to train and they're (RV) endeavouring to make it a level playing field for the punters, trainers and participants.
"If found guilty there is no place for them in the game and the game is bigger than the individual."