Weir cruels reputation with ‘nasty’ shock tactics
RACING Appeals and Disciplinary Board chairman Judge John Bowman has lashed Darren Weir, predicting the disgraced trainer will be ultimately remembered for "possessing instruments of cruelty" rather than brilliant horsemanship.
Weir quivered emotionally in front of the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board panel on Wednesday as Bowman summarised his rise and demise, reeling in shock from the reality of a shattered career.
A former owner with Weir, Bowman described how jiggers, or electronic apparatus, could give horses a "nasty electric shock" with the "end result anticipated the horse will put on a burst of speed".
Bowman suggested Weir's four-year ban for possession of three jiggers tarnished the vast accomplishments of the Melbourne Cup-winning trainer.
"You are a 48-year-old man who completed a rags to riches rise in the racing world," Bowman told Weir. "You rose from depths of the Mallee to be Australia's leading trainer.
"Until a week ago you were what could be described as a leviathan trainer with hundreds of horses, owners that number the thousands with a staff of 150.
"You always appeared on television coverage as a down-to-earth, affable trainer.
"Now you will be remembered for possessing instruments of cruelty and instruments associated with a high level of cheating.
"This is not necessarily the end of the matter.
"The laying of criminal charges by the police is still a possibility."
The hearing was told police and stewards found electrical apparatus known as jiggers in the master bedroom of Weir's home when they raided his principal stables at Ballarat last week.
Weir faced six charges including three for possession of an electrical device along and one of conduct prejudicial to the image of racing which was found "proven".
Racing Victoria legal counsel Jeff Gleeson, QC, said Weir had badly damaged the sport.
"The four-year disqualification is appropriate if the board takes into context how much the racing industry has been tarnished in the past week," Gleeson said.
Weir's counsel Patrick Wheelahan said the trainer did not agree with RV's submissions but wanted a quick end to the inquiry.
"He instructed his lawyer to get the matter finalised as soon as possible," Wheelahan said. "He's seen other matters drag on costing millions of dollars to the industry.
"In the best interests of racing he wants an early resolution so racing can move on."
Weir trained a Commonwealth record number of winners last season from a stable that had been described as an industry juggernaut.
Most of his 36 Group One winners have come over the past five years as some of the world's biggest and best-known owners flocked to his stable in search of success.
It was a 100/1 chance that put him on the international map when Prince Of Penzance, ridden by Michelle Payne, won the 2015 Melbourne Cup.