MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Darren Weir was handed a four-year global ban on Wednesday for the possession of equipment used to deliver electric shocks to horses.
Three of the electrical devices, which are known as “jiggers” and are used to condition horses to run faster in races, were found in the master bedroom at Weir’s house when Victoria Police raided his properties last week.
The 48-year-old Australian, who trained 2015 Melbourne Cup winner Prince of Penzance, had decided not to contest the charges laid against him by Racing Victoria at a Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board (RAD).
“Until a week ago, you could be described as a leviathan trainer ... with hundreds of horses, owners that number in the thousands, with a staff of 150,” RAD chairman Judge John Bowman said in delivering the punishment.
“Now you will be remembered for possessing instruments of cruelty and implements associated with a high level of cheating.
“This is clearly a significant breach of the rules.”
Weir, who has trained 31 winners of Group One races, also potentially faces police charges after being arrested following the raid.
Assistant trainer Jarrod McLean, who was arrested with Weir, will contest a charge of possession of a similar device and will continue to train until his hearing.
Prince of Penzance’s victory at Flemington racecourse was particularly notable because Michelle Payne became the first female jockey to win Australia’s biggest horse race.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Andrew Both