The concept of Aquanita Racing originated in the late 1990s when a small group of racing enthusiasts acquired shares in the operations of leading Flemington trainer John Sadler. They started with the capacity to train a small team from stables formerly known as Aquanita Lodge located behind the hill of the main grandstand at Flemington racecourse.
From these humble beginnings an ambitious strategy was developed that would challenge the traditions of the industry, create a business partnership with a team of independent trainers and leverage its economies of scale in order to deliver a level of professionalism and quality that ultimately becomes a benchmark for the Industry.
Thus began the story of Aquanita.
1998 was a watershed year for the operation, Aquanita Racing (Australia) Pty Ltd was formed. In conjunction with the Victorian Racing Club we designed and built a new stable complex on course at Flemington. This allowed the business to recruit Russell Cameron to join John Sadler as part of a new Melbourne operation. It also allowed Dan O'Sullivan to be promoted from John Sadler's foreman to Aquanita's Adelaide trainer.
The following year leading country trainer Robert Smerdon joined Aquanita bringing with him access to his highly successful Ballarat training facilities.
In 2000 Aquanita established exclusive arrangements to provide its own transport and veterinary operations in Melbourne. This heralded the commencement of our strategy to exercise better control and ownership over the support services that underpin the preparation of a horse for racing.
Two years later Aquanita moved into the Brisbane market with the appointment of Liam Birchley as its Queensland trainer. A farrier service was added to the business mix, a continuation of our plan to vertically integrate the entire training operation. An award winning web site was launched and we implemented a purpose built and state of the art owner communication system affectionately known as TONS (Trainer to Owner Notification System).
To cap off a busy 2002 Aquanita designed and the Melbourne Racing Club built a new stable complex on the last remaining vacant land at Caulfield Racecourse allowing us to relocate Dan O'Sullivan from Adelaide to takeover this new facility.
In 2003 Tony Vasil joined Aquanita operating from the new Caulfield stables. This allowed Dan O'Sullivan to briefly return to Flemington, however pressure for space to accommodate Robert Smerdon's growing city operation saw Robert shift to Melbourne in 2005. Dan accepted the opportunity to replace Robert as the resident trainer of the Ballarat stables.
The desire to consolidate both city operations into one complex saw both the Flemington and Caulfield stables closed in 2006. They were replaced with a considerably larger facility still on course at Caulfield racecourse with the capacity to train 115 horses at any one time. It also offers improved office facilities, water walker, high-speed treadmill, commercial veterinary practice, and lush pick areas for horses.
A preferred spelling property was added to the mix in 2007, located on the Bellarine Peninsula, this completed the missing link in having all parts of the care of a horse controlled by Aquanita personnel.
Local trainer, Simon Morrish took over as Operations Manager of the Ballarat facility in early 2007, which both Robert Smerdon and Tony Vasil are licensed to train from.
January 2008 began with the Queensland operation moving into onsite stables at Eagle Farm racecourse. This 40 box facility comes complete with horse walker, (a first for the Queensland business) sand roll and wash bays, with better access to the swimming pool and training tracks.
In January 2008 the announcement was made that Aquanita were moving into Western Australia. Simon Miller who was previously Assistant Trainer to Robbie Griffiths and John O'Shea was appointed as trainer for the Perth operation.
The move to Western Australia is almost a homecoming, as the name Aquanita is taken from the champion galloper from the west who raced last century. Simon commenced training in August of 2008, from stables built on course at Ascot.
Currently the operation has three trainers; Robert Smerdon, Tony Vasil and Simon Miller; with stables in two states, at three locations and the capacity to have 140 horses in work.