Police are probing Darren Weir's big wins.
Police are probing Darren Weir's big wins.

Police probe Weir’s big wins, star horses withdrawn

DARREN Weir's spring racing wins worth millions of dollars are under police investigation.

With the embattled trainer's empire on the brink of collapse, horse owners are withdrawing their runners from his stables.

Victoria Police's investigation honed in on alleged conduct which could corrupt betting outcomes.

Police were assessing information relating to the outcome of races last year, when Weir was a dominant force.

Horses he trained won on every major track in Melbourne ranging from a $1.2 million victory at the Victoria Derby at Flemington to a $602,000 win at the Caulfield's Memsie Stakes.

Weir prepared 10 Group 1 winners last year including six in Victoria during the Spring Racing Carnival.

A float from the Ciaron Maher stables takes horses away from Darren Weir’s Miners Rest stables. Picture: Jay Town
A float from the Ciaron Maher stables takes horses away from Darren Weir’s Miners Rest stables. Picture: Jay Town

On Saturday, several horses were taken from Weir's Ballarat stable to new trainers. It's understood Weir contacted the owners to tell them to take the horses.

Among the horses to have already left Weir's stables are Group 1 winners Extra Brut, Land Of Plenty and Amphitrite.

Weir and fellow trainer Jarrod McLean will face a Racing Victoria hearing On Monday when they will attempt to explain why they should be allowed to continue to train.

It follows a dawn raid on Weir's properties on Wednesday where electronic devices known as "jiggers" were seized.

These can be used to shock horses into running faster.

McLean has claimed the jigger was for loading cattle, not to shock horses.

His stable Stealth Lodge said in a statement: "The device is there if needed for loading cattle.''

Weir, McLean and stable employee Tyson Kermond are facing a combined 12 charges.

McLean has been charged with possessing the electronic device, failing to give evidence at an inquiry, failing to comply with a direction of the stewards, and conduct prejudicial to the image, interests or welfare of racing.

A float collects a single horse from Weir’s stables. Picture: Jay Town
A float collects a single horse from Weir’s stables. Picture: Jay Town

Weir faces the same charges, as well as two additional counts of possessing an electric or electronic apparatus capable of affecting the performance of a horse.

Kermond has been charged with failure to give evidence at an inquiry and failure to comply with a direction of stewards.

As the trio was preparing for the hearing, rumours were intensifying that police had incriminating video footage from inside a regional Victorian stable.

Police have asked for public assistance over the possibility other footage exists.

In a further twist, high-profile trainers Chris Waller, Ciaron Maher and David Eustace are believed to be in talks with the Ballarat Turf Club over possibly taking over some of the boxes used by Weir.

Australian Trainers Association chief executive Andrew Nicholl has condemned the use of jiggers in the wake of the Weir investigation.

"It's unacceptable. There's no room for jiggers. Bottom line," he said of the electric apparatus.

"Rules of racing are extremely clear. Jiggers are an unacceptable apparatus from a training and racing input. Every trainer understands that's the case. There is no excuse in the racing and training industry. There is no excuse."

Land of Plenty is among the horses which have left the stables Picture: AAP Image/Julian Smith
Land of Plenty is among the horses which have left the stables Picture: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Nicholl said the "majority of the trainers understand their obligations to the rules of racing in relation to everything in how the industry has moved on from race-day treatments to corticosteroids and so on".

"They've got to appreciate the environment and landscape they are in," he said. "In terms of a trainer having a jigger, whether they have it, whether they use it, it's an unacceptable practice not endorsed by the ATA.

"Some older trainers might need to appreciate it's a different culture these days. Jiggers are banned."

Nicholl joined prominent owner Gerry Ryan in voicing fears for affected staff.

"Our concern is in relation to staff," Nicholl said. There are people there to support them through RV (Racing Victoria), the Australian Workers' Union, Stableline and Behind The Barriers.

Ryan agreed, saying: "That's who I'm feeling for most of all."

Weir's plight does not augur well also for a string of suppliers, including feed merchants, saddlers, vets and farriers.

Weir.jpg
Weir.jpg

150 STAFF NOW ON JOB HUNT


More than 150 staff working for Weir's crumbling racing empire could be left without jobs as the fallout of an animal cruelty probe continues.

Fellow trainers have described the damage as "horrendous", and fear that some high-quality staff may be forced from the industry.

As more horses departed Weir's stables for new training homes on Saturday, the livelihoods of Weir's many employees are in jeopardy.

Racing Victoria has started to reach out to his shell-shocked staff, following a joint Racing Victoria and Victoria Police investigation into one of Australia's biggest trainers.

A female handler farewells a horse before it is taken from Darren Weir’s property. Picture: Jay Town
A female handler farewells a horse before it is taken from Darren Weir’s property. Picture: Jay Town

The "hardworking stable staff" will be offered free and independent help through support service Stableline.

It is understood Weir has almost 70 full-time employees at Ballarat alone, with more than 150 staff members across his three operations, also at Warrnambool and Maldon.

Darren Weir leaving Racing Victoria earlier this week. Picture: Tony Gough
Darren Weir leaving Racing Victoria earlier this week. Picture: Tony Gough

"This is very real and very raw right now," said Ballarat trainer Simon Morrish. "I don't think the reality has truly hit home for them yet.

"Finding new homes for horses is the easy part, but finding new jobs for the staff won't be.

"The other trainers in Ballarat can't absorb them; we're already chock-a-block. Some of them will be lost (to the industry). It's tough because the staff are good people and hopefully they won't be forgotten."

Darren Weir's Group 1 Spring Carnival wins.
Darren Weir's Group 1 Spring Carnival wins.

Prominent owner Gerry Ryan said Weir's staff were the "collateral damage" following the six charges Racing Victoria stewards have levelled at him under the rules of racing.

"My concern is for the 150 staff and whether they are OK," Ryan said. "They are now on the streets looking for a job. Owners can transfer their horses and will be fine. (But) the staff are collateral damage and I'm hoping they will be able to bounce back and find jobs quickly."

Racing Victoria's general manager of integrity, Jamie Stier, said authorities were very mindful of the impact this week's raids and subsequent racing charges may have on Weir's staff.

"We (have) reached out to the staff of Mr Weir in understanding and being very appreciative of the potential impacts this has on them," Stier said.

"We are keen to offer any assistance we can," he said.