Former jumps trainer Brian Johnston says the “original” trophy and “bragging rights” as a Grand National Hurdle winner means more than the prizemoney owed.
Johnston, who trained with wife Fran Houlahan, daughter of legendary Jim Houlahan, credited Racing Victoria’s decision to disqualify 72 starters embroiled in the Aquanita scandal.
Zaman, prepared by the renowned jumps combination, finished second in the 2012 Grand National Hurdle behind the now eliminated Robert Smerdon-trained Brungle Cry.
Connections of Zaman stand to recover $88,313 — the difference between first and second prizemoney — following the landmark decision.
“The money will be nice, but the bragging rights are what it’s all about, at our age and stage,” Johnston said.
“We will vigorously go after the trophy … we want to see that trophy on the mantelpiece, so whoever has the trophy please send it into RVL and they can send it to us.
“I’d like the original. I think the original is important.”
The retrospective Grand National Hurdle completes a “treble” of jumps majors, including the Grand National and Hiskens steeplechases, for the decorated Houlahan-Johnson team.
“We had the Steeple and all other things, we couldn’t put it on our CV that we won a Grand National Hurdle so for us, as jumping trainers and people, it’s important,” Johnston said.
“I commend Racing Victoria … it’s (Aquanita affair) been a legal minefield for them.
“Good on RVL for following it through … it’s bloody marvellous to be able to brag about it (Grand National Hurdle).”
Brungle Cry (left in blue) was disqualified from the Grand National Hurdle.Source:News Limited
Stewards on Tuesday disqualified 72 horses implicated in the Aquanita Racing scandal but affected owners won’t have to repay more than $1 million in prizemoney.
Aquanita trainers Robert Smerdon, Stuart Webb and Tony Vasil were disqualified in 2018-19, along with four stablehands, for engaging in improper or dishonourable actions.
Racing Victoria will seek to recover the prizemoney paid to the disqualified trainers.
The placings of the affected races will be amended and stakes paid to other runners “as though the disqualified horse had not started in the race”.
“I feel justified, we thought the horse (Zaman) was a very nice horse and I’m glad his CV is going to have a Grand National Hurdle on it,” the former licensed trainer Johnson said.
“I have absolutely no doubt it (prizemoney) will be paid.
“I look forward to ringing (RV integrity) Jamie Stier and him picking up the phone, because I want to say thank you to him, I drove him insane and he stopped answering my phone calls.”
Originally published asAquanita fallout: Trophy worth more than cash to ex-trainer
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