Shattered Weir reduced to tears as career crumbles
AS the guillotine fell on the man who embodied the larrikin essence of Australian racing, tears streamed down Darren Weir's face.
Sidelined for four years over possession of three jiggers and conduct prejudicial to the sport which defined him, Weir's stoic composure evaporated.
Downcast as Judge John Bowman outlined his rise - and crashing fall - from Mallee battler to the nation's most successful trainer, Weir trembled and wept.
When Judge Bowman had finished explaining why he and deputy Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board deputy chairman Brian Forrest had settled on a four-year disqualification, Weir might have expected the humiliation would soon end.
Fellow deputy chairman Josh Bornstein, like Judge Bowman once an owner with Weir, pushed for a five-year ban.
Bornstein argued the reputational damage inflicted on racing by Weir was just as severe as the possession of jiggers, instruments associated with animal cruelty.
Weir last week ordered barrister Patrick Wheelahan and lawyer Tony Hannebery to expedite proceedings. To strike a deal as quickly as possible.
There would be no contest.
Resolution - or getting a result - was Weir's sole ambition.
When it came, it struck brutally for a singular character; a man whose race-day emotions rarely extended beyond a coy smile and a firm handshake.
Utterly shattered, Weir left the hearing room at Racing Victoria without speaking.
He was driven from the complex, destination and future unknown.
Weir will not be able to return to training, assuming he wants to, until 2023.
In the short-term, he will be given a short period of grace to attend to the logistics of transferring horses to caretaker Mick Leonard's.
He will have to vacate the home he owns at the Forest Lodge complex because, under the terms of the disqualification, it is part of a registered licensed training operation.
The upheaval is immense.
For those long aggrieved by Weir's dominance, the reality of the country's dominant training force could not have come any sooner.
To those close to the boy from the bush, the jarring nature of the disqualification - and his raw reaction to it - spoke volumes.
He has still to publicly offer an explanation over why he kept jiggers - devices described as "abhorrent" - in the master bedroom of his home.
He might never explain it.
What became clear, with his head buried low, was the unfiltered devastation Weir felt.
For others, hard-bitten by running second, it was a reality delivered not a moment too late.
* Born in Berriwillock in the Mallee district of country Victoria.
* Left school at 15 to begin work as a horse-breaker, track rider and farrier gaining experience with Jack Coffey in Birchip, John Castleman in Mildura and Lindsay Park at Angaston in South Australia.
* In 1995 he took out an owner-trainer licence firstly at Stawell before taking out a full licence in 1997 and moving to his base at Ballarat racecourse in Miner's Rest in 2001. By 2019 had training bases at Ballarat, Warrnambool and Baringhup.
* Has trained more than 3500 winners.
* In 2005 won his first Victorian country trainers' premiership before becoming first country-based trainer to win the Melbourne trainers' premiership in 2013-14, the first of five successive titles.
* In season 2016-17 became first to train more than 400 Australian winners, winning 449 races, surpassing that in 2017-18 with 491 victories for prizemoney of more than $31 million.
* This season has trained 265 winners earning almost $19 million prizemoney.
* Winner of 36 Group 1 winners, the first She's Archie in the 2002 South Australian Oaks.
* Won the 2015 Melbourne Cup with Prince Of Penzance, ridden by Michelle Payne.