Darren Weir Acquitted of Charges of Corrupting Horse Race Outcomes

Prominent Australian racehorse trainer Darren Weir acquitted of corruption charges, highlighting challenges in proving integrity issues in the sport. The case raises questions about the effectiveness of current regulations.

Salman Khan
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Darren Weir Acquitted of Charges of Corrupting Horse Race Outcomes

Darren Weir Acquitted of Charges of Corrupting Horse Race Outcomes

Darren Weir, a prominent Australian racehorse trainer, has been acquitted of three charges of corrupting the outcome of races, including the 2018 Melbourne Cup. The Victorian Racing Tribunal (VRT) dismissed the charges on Wednesday, finding that the use of a jigger, an electronic device, on three horses - Red Cardinal, Tosen Basil, and Yogi - could not be proven to have affected the outcome of the races they were entered in.

Weir, along with his former assistant trainer Jarrod McLean and stable hand Tyson Kermond, faced charges related to the use of the jigger on the three racehorses. While they had previously pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and welfare charges, the trio contested the corruption allegations.

Judge John Bowman, who led the VRT panel, stated that the evidence presented by the prosecution's sole expert witness, equine specialist Dr. Andrew McLean, was insufficient to establish that Weir intended to corrupt the race outcomes. The judge drew an analogy, comparing Weir's actions to a "superstitious horseman spreading four-leaf clover on the track."

The tribunal declared that the stewards' brief of evidence fell "well short" of the required standard of proof to find Weir, McLean, and Kermond guilty of the corruption offenses. The parties will now meet for a directions hearing next week to discuss sanctions for the allegations of breaching the rules of racing in relation to the use of the jigger.

Weir, who won the Melbourne Cup in 2015 with the horse Prince Of Penzance, has already served a four-year disqualification for possession of a jigger, which expired in February 2023. Although he does not currently hold an active horse trainer license with Racing Victoria, it has been reported that Weir has been involved in "pre-training horses," an activity that does not require an official license.

Why this matters: The acquittal of Darren Weir, a high-profile figure in Australian horse racing, raises questions about the effectiveness of the current regulations and the challenges in proving corruption in the sport. The case highlights the need for a robust system to maintain the integrity of horse racing and protect the welfare of the animals involved.

The VRT's decision to dismiss the corruption charges against Weir, McLean, and Kermond was based on the lack of convincing evidence that the use of the jigger could have influenced the races' outcomes. Judge Bowman emphasized the limited knowledge and experience of the prosecution's expert witness in dealing with racehorses. The case will proceed next week with a directions hearing to determine the timeline for penalty submissions related to the animal cruelty and welfare charges that the accused had previously pleaded guilty to.

Key Takeaways

  • Darren Weir acquitted of corruption charges related to use of jigger on racehorses.
  • VRT found insufficient evidence to prove Weir intended to corrupt race outcomes.
  • Weir, McLean, and Kermond still face sanctions for animal cruelty and welfare charges.
  • Weir previously served 4-year disqualification for possession of jigger, now involved in pre-training.
  • Case highlights challenges in proving corruption and need for robust integrity measures in horse racing.