Home Australia Darren Weir cleared of allegations he intended to corrupt the outcome of the 2018 Melbourne Cup

Darren Weir cleared of allegations he intended to corrupt the outcome of the 2018 Melbourne Cup

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Horse trainer Darren Weir

Champion horse trainer Darren Weir has been cleared of allegations he used an electronic shock device known as a jigger on racehorses with the intention of corrupting the result of the 2018 Melbourne Cup.

The Victorian Racing Tribunal handed down its verdict in the high-profile case this morning, which also involved charges against Weir’s former assistant trainer Jarrod McLean and stable hand Tyson Kermond, alleging they helped Weir break the rules.

Weir previously admitted to using the jigger, a practice that is banned in horse racing, but disputed accusations that he intended to corrupt the outcome of races such as the Cup and Lexus Stakes.

Judge John Bowman ruled this morning that the Racing Victoria stewards’ evidence fell “far short” of the prosecution case.

The use of jigger is supported

Weir, McLean and Kermond each faced 10 charges relating to the use of a jigger on three racehorses (Red Cardinal, Tosen Basil and Yogi) at Weir’s stables in Warrnambool on October 30, 2018.

Horse trainer Darren Weir.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

During a multi-day hearing in March, a video was shown to the court showing each horse being led onto a treadmill and the speed gradually increasing.

In the footage, blinders were put over their eyes and the horses were beaten with a plastic pipe before Weir electrocuted them with the meter.

The jigger was used on Red Cardinal seven times and on Tosen Basil and Yogi nine times.

The prosecution alleged that Kermond and McLean were “keeping watch so that no one else would see”.

It was alleged that the process was intended to condition the horses to associate the use of plastic tubes and blinders with the use of the jigger.

Red Cardinal and Tosen Basil had been accepted to compete in the Melbourne Cup a week later, while Yogi was nominated to compete in the Lexus Stakes on 3 November, a qualifying race for the Cup.

Judge Bowman said Weir was one of Australia’s leading horse trainers at the time, with main stables in Ballarat and large subsidiary stables in Warrnambool.

The court heard Red Cardinal finished last in the field in the 2018 Melbourne Cup, Tosen Basil did not race in the prestigious race and was withdrawn due to injury, and Yogi failed to qualify for the Cup, coming seventh in the Lexus Stakes.

Judge Bowman said the Racing Victoria stewards’ case was based on Weir’s intention to corrupt the result of a race, regardless of whether such a result occurred or not.

In handing down the verdict, Judge Bowman said members of the tribunal agreed that whatever the trainer’s intention, the conduct must have had a probable capacity to affect the outcome of the race.

weak expert

Racing Victoria stewards relied on equine specialist Andrew McLean as their sole expert at the hearing, who said the jigger treatment had the potential to affect the outcome of racing.

Judge Bowman said members of the tribunal were “not particularly impressed” with Dr McLean’s evidence.

“While he may be qualified in various aspects of animal welfare, his experience with racehorses is limited,” he said.

“He admitted to having little direct contact or particular understanding of the industry’s operations.”

Judge Bowman referred to Dr McLean’s comments during the hearing: “There is a strong possibility that the electric shock will work and make the horses go faster, but there is also a possibility that it will not work.”

“In our opinion… there is a high level of uncertainty as to whether the treatment of the horses by Weir and his colleagues had any effect on their performance,” the judge said.

“In our view, the evidence presented by the delegates falls far short of establishing the burden of proof. We are not comfortably satisfied…conduct has been demonstrated in relation to the alleged corruption charges.”

Decision on future sanctions

The parties will meet next week to discuss sanctions for charges of violating racing rules in relation to the use of the jigger.

It comes after previous sanctions handed down in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court in December 2022 on charges of animal abuse.

Weir was previously banned as a horse trainer for four years after Racing Victoria’s disciplinary and appeals board found him guilty of possessing three electric shock devices and one count of conduct prejudicial to the image, interests or welfare of horses. careers.

That ban expired on February 6 of last year.

Weir is not currently a licensed trainer, according to Racing Victoria.

The ABC understands Weir has been involved in pre-training horses, which does not require a license from Racing Victoria.

Pre-trainers can work with horses on private property before racing, but horses must be under the care of a licensed trainer for a minimum of 28 days before any race, in accordance with Racing Victoria rules.

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