RACING: Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Darren Weir has been disqualified from racing for four years, after electric-shock 'jiggers' were found in his bedroom.

He was banned for possessing the outlawed devices, which are known to be used to mentally condition horses to run faster in races, and for behaviour prejudicial to the image of racing.

It was a fall from grace for the Victorian trainer who had risen to the very top of Australian racing out of obscurity.

The charges were laid by Racing Victoria following joint raids with Victoria Police at several properties last week, including Weir's stables near Ballarat and Warrnambool.

But we want to know, was four years enough of a punishment?

 

FALL FROM GRACE: Horse trainer Darren Weir is seen inside of the Victorian Racing Club's headquarters during a show cause hearing in Melbourne.
FALL FROM GRACE: Horse trainer Darren Weir is seen inside of the Victorian Racing Club's headquarters during a show cause hearing in Melbourne. JAMES ROSS

MOOSE ELKERTON: Weir punished to the letter of the law

IT HAS been a dark week for the Australian racing industry, there is no doubt about that.

To see the number one trainer in the country, not to mention one of the best underdog stories in Australian sport, be destroyed by an animal cruelty-related charge is, to pardon the pun, shocking.

But before we begin to jump up and down, shaking our fists about further punishments, everyone needs to take a step back and take stock.

Darren Weir was slogged with a four-year ban earlier this week after four electrical devices (jiggers) were found in his residence, which is attached to his training facility.

The social media justice brigade have been quick to shout that he deserved life.

As a person who has defended the legitimacy of the racing industry for several years now, and someone who personally met and spoke with Weir, I felt like a mug this week.

But that does not mean we can just abandon the law, and serve whatever punishment we see fit. There are laws and codes of conduct for a reason.

The other thing is many believe Weir was charged with using the jigger on his horses.

That is not true.

He was charged, and found guilty of being in possession of the electric devices. That was made clear when the Racing Victoria tribunal handed down its final punishment.

These items could have been used legally as a cattle prod. They probably weren't.

But we must punish to the letter of the law, or otherwise we may as well not have it.

 

FORCE ON THE RACING SCENE: The 2015 Melbourne Cup-winning trainer and current Melbourne trainer's premiership leader Darren Weir will have a runner at the Caloundra Cup.
FORCE ON THE RACING SCENE: The 2015 Melbourne Cup-winning trainer and current Melbourne trainer's premiership leader Darren Weir will have a runner at the Caloundra Cup. JULIAN SMITH

JARRARD 'POTTSY' POTTER: Weir ban should have been for life

WHEN it comes to the punishment handed down by Racing Victoria to trainer Darren Weir, I don't think a four-year ban from racing is anywhere near being a harsh enough penalty for not only his actions, but also to serve as a general deterrence to the rest of the industry.

I realise the punishment may have been following the letter of the law, and Weir's public reputation has been shot to pieces, but after four years out of the industry there would be nothing stopping someone to bankroll a new set of stables and he would be free to return to training.

The temptation of a disgraced former champion trainer, who knows how to train winners, might be too much for some with deep pockets around the industry, and people tend to have short or selective memories when big sums of money are mentioned.

Considering the use of electronic shock devices, known as jiggers, is a dirty secret among those in and around the industry, I don't think the punishment of four years is sufficient to dissuade others who use them to give up the practice.

A life ban, however, would be more of a disincentive, along with further action by racing authorities to eradicate the practice entirely.

There would have been more people involved than just Weir, and over a long period of time too, which goes towards my view that the covering up of cruelty to animals to win races should have ended in a lifetime ban for Weir.



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