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Australian Horseracing Shocked By Arrests

Leading trainer at centre of investigation

Australian horseracing has been rocked by the news that Police are investigating the alleged use of tasers – known in the horse racing world as “jiggers” – after raids on the stables of the Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Darren Weir on Wednesday morning.

Darren Weir – far right with owners (Pic – Darren Weir Racing)

The Guardian reports that Weir, 48, one of Australia’s most successful trainers, was reportedly among three men arrested and interviewed by police after the twin raids at properties in Miners Rest and Ballarat.

Police said a 48-year-old Miners Rest man, a 38-year-old Yangery man and a 26-year-old Warrnambool man were arrested. All three were released without charge later on Wednesday.

At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, the Victoria police assistant commissioner, Neil Paterson, said officers had seized an unregistered firearm and four conducted energy devices – known as “jiggers” – across two properties, and that the raids related to alleged animal cruelty as well as corruption.

He said the alleged offences “relate to offences of obtaining financial advantage by deception, engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome, and the use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes, and attempting to commit an indictable offence, and also charges that relate to animal cruelty. I can’t go into the specifics that give rise to the circumstances of each one of those charges because of the complexity of this investigation and because it still is ongoing.

“What I can say is that in conduct of the conducted energy devices, or the jiggers, clearly, the allegation is that they may be used against a horse … with the aim of improving their performance on a particular race day.”

Darren Weir (Twitter)

Paterson said he could not say whether there would be further arrests.

He asked the public to contact police if they had more information, including about a video that allegedly showed the jiggers being used. The police investigation has been under way since August.

The chief executive of Racing Victoria, Giles Thompson, said racing stewards would determine whether the three men and horses linked to them would be stood down from the sport while the investigation continued.

Thompson would not speculate on whether the allegations, if proven, could impact past race results. “No charges have been laid, and thus, those involved are entitled to the presumption of innocence there,” he said.

“If they deliver any evidence to substantiate the breach of the rules of racing, then we will take action.”

Earlier, Racing Victoria said it had been investigating “the activities of licensed persons” and had brought in Victoria police.

“During the course of our investigation, we sought the support of Victoria police’s sporting integrity intelligence unit on the matter, instigating their investigation,” said the executive general manager of integrity, Jamie Stier.

“As the matters are the subject of ongoing investigations by Victoria police and Racing Victoria, we are not at liberty at this time to disclose the identities of the persons arrested nor the details of the investigations.

“Racing Victoria is committed to maintaining the highest integrity standards in our sport and, where appropriate, we will continue to work with Victoria police on those investigations.”

Weir is one of Australia’s best-known horse trainers and was behind the 2015 Melbourne Cup winner Prince of Penzance. He is Australia’s most prolific and successful trainer.


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16 comments on “Australian Horseracing Shocked By Arrests

  1. Judith says:

    Not a single post from all your vocal readers. Why the silence? Is “jiggers” (or “jiggering” or inflicting pain on your racehorse) common here? Reading up about “jiggers” in Australia what is scary is the code of silence.

  2. Judith says:

    In fact 50+ comments on whether Richard Fourie lost the punter money, but nothing on what might be construed as cruelty to animals?

  3. Jay August says:

    Judith, there is a presumption of innocence in western legal systems. We most certainly do not have the facts to try this man (Weir) in a public forum. All we have is a police raid with a sensational headline and rampant speculation without any basis for discovery. I speculate on horses with actual money. Please feel free to speculate on the Weir case but I’ll pass until such time as the facts are known and beyond dispute. That silence is not condoning animal cruelty rather respecting the legal process. I have no doubt that if he is guilty, and we cannot say that he is with any certainty right now, that he will face the consequences of his actions.

  4. Geoff says:

    Well said Jay.When people get to see or hear the evidence i am sure there will be plenty comments.

  5. Martin says:

    Have to agree it is a scary situation.
    But the Australians have the biggest mouths when things happen in other racing durastictions but when it happens in there back yard they a very quiet. Thought that Mr I Jays would have something to say about it by now. As he is very vocal on these matter or similar

  6. Judith says:

    I am not saying he is guilty or otherwise. But was Richard Fourie guilty of preventing DIA from winning or not? That has been argued in a public forum with many unsupported accusations flying about. Research shows that “jiggers” is not uncommon in Australia. Also, there is reportedly a climate of silence regarding such uses of electronic devices. I would like to know how prevalent the use of such devices is in SA and if they are used is there also a ‘climate of silence’ here? We are not so silent when money is involved

  7. Jay August says:

    Martin, to quote Edwards Deming (look him up) – Without data you’re just a person with an opinion.

  8. Jay August says:

    Judith, you are posing a question which is completely impossible to answer by just about every punter. Those who have no idea about jigger use are silent because venturing an opinion is based on absolute subjectivity and emotion. This is not comparable to an opinion on the riding of a horse where all the evidence is available in video and spoken form and the debate (sometimes heated) revolves around one’s interpretation of that evidence..

    Those who are likely to know about jiggers are more than likely going to remain silent. Are the 50+ people who are ignorant now presumed guilty of silence? There is something disturbing in such a thought. Say those 50+ people were to comment in the manner of the RF article; who then decides which of those comments are “unsupported accusations” (your language), or do you simply decide based on your own emotions who is telling the truth and who can be ignored.

    Your enquiry would have got a lot more credit had it simply asked, “Does anyone know of the prevalence and use of jiggers in SA”. Instead you’ve seen fit to admonish the rest of us for daring to comment elsewhere and remain silent here.

    PS – can you point me to the research which shows that jiggers are not uncommon in Australia? An internet link would be helpful.

  9. Judith says:

    Here is a good link
    and this one from 2007

    I am not admonishing anyone. You pointed out that Weir is innocent until proven guilty: I made the comment that Richard Fourie had taken a lot of flak for what I feel were unprovable errors. Yet he also had support from others – all of those for and against had access to the same videos, but imparted different interpretations. To some – many of whom may have lost money – he appears guilty of failure to ride the horse appropriately. I certainly don’t know if he is or not. Nor do I know if Weir is guilty – but Weir appears to be suspect in a training method that is used, according to the charge sheet, for illegal financial gain.

    To quote from the article above: “He said the alleged offences “relate to offences of obtaining financial advantage by deception, engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome, and the use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes, and attempting to commit an indictable offence, and also charges that relate to animal cruelty. “

  10. Jay August says:

    Judith, looking over those links and reading a bit further it appears the jigger is a small battery operated device meant to cause an unpleasant sensation and not anything like a cattle prod or tazer. The effect seems more startling and unpleasant, meant to induce a Pavlovian type response, rather than outright cruelty. I’ve seen some people (other sites) alleging that horses have been electrocuted which seems out of line.

    The wording of the police charge sheet reads quite seriously but that wording is meant to allege a wide range of wrong doing in order to extract or make one possibly fit. It is the usual approach for prosecutors and law enforcers to bring a shotgun to a knife fight. The whole affair remains distasteful but I have not changed my mind yet. I think there is a large amount of sensational reporting which is driving a narrative which does not seem to fit the currently available evidence.

    The unlicensed gun found along with the jiggers also seems to be a bit of noise and probably unrelated. This story will obviously drag on for quite a while and the noise levels will become more distorting (disturbing) in the short term. Speculation will out run facts until the real facts are well and clearly laid out. Frankly I have never heard of jiggers in SA but that does not mean they are not being used.

  11. Graham Hurlstone-Jones says:

    Where there is smoke there is fire……I have never heard of taazering before but your articles are eye opening !! as was the RP headline, what next ? This is as low you can get, so many things going on and its the punter who gets screwed every time. I really hope this is not happening here in SA or any where else ? but you have to be cynical, its like diving in football, its wrong, its cheating but everyone does it if they can get away with it…..so….Its hard enough when a horse is just being a horse but when you influence that behaviour intentionally then it is not racing, its an act of criminality ( and cruelty ) to defraud the people you say you are coveting. …….When a policeman knocks on your door says you have tasers and you have been cheating and you have the tasers then thats smoke, lots of it. Well said on the Fourie attack…..it was horrible reading, As shocking as a taser….its a good point you make, RF was ripped into even though he had said DIA was trouble and he hung badly as all can see in the head on….( I banked DIA after the QP run )……he was judged no matter the facts and that is all that is wrong in the world today…..but now I see we have to follow due procedure in this case….interesting. Ask the question are electrical devices being used in SA to influence races or in training ?…….who knows about this tactic if at all ?

  12. Judith says:

    I agree totally, Jay, about sensationalist reporting (whether in the main media or – especially – online where few facts can be proven or disproven so anyone says what they wish). Please note that apparently cocaine was found as well – the twitter response to that has been eye-boggling with one jockey saying that the cocaine was probably for private use and should be ignored. The implications of that tweet also leaves me speechless.
    I was in no way attacking people who are angry with Fourie, or with any jockey they feel did not come to the party. But, a case (however suspect) of cruelty to animals should receive similar responses no matter how weak the evidence appears to be. It shouldn’t just be about whether money was lost but also about the creatures that are carrying your hopes on their backs. The jigger sounds cruel. Period.

  13. Judith says:

    Also Jay, according to the links I sent you, the jigger or use thereof was banned years ago in Australia after being viewed as an instrument of pain which did not fit into the ethics of modern horseracing. Therefore using it is against the law.

  14. Judith says:

    “Its hard enough when a horse is just being a horse but when you influence that behaviour intentionally then it is not racing, its an act of criminality ( and cruelty ) to defraud the people you say you are coveting. ”

    In one sentence Graham you said it all.

  15. Ian Jayes says:

    People do not have devices and drugs in their possession if they are not using them. Thoroughbreds are very sensitive animals and should be treated as such. If we can’t race horses ethically and humanely, then the sooner we stop racing them the better.

  16. Praga says:

    in South Africa,the govt couldn’t care less if racing is crooked ,so long as they are raking in the taxes.We’ve had cases of ringing and doping of thoroughbreds ,with the culprits getting off lightly.The moment you mention anything about racing being crooked the response is ‘racing is not for the faint-hearted’

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