There’s a whirlwind of information, rumour and news swirling around the Darren Weir situation.
Rather than repeat what you’ve already heard, we went straight to one of our experts to get the information you need, as a punter. Do you need to make any immediate adjustments assessing Weir runners?
We asked our Melbourne Racing analyst Trevor Lawson about the possible impacts, and if there needs to be any changes made right now when doing the form.
What We Know
Weir’s stables at Ballarat and Warrnambool were raided yesterday morning. Weir was arrested and subsequently questioned by police.
“I can let you know that we have initially located a number of items which police have seized, including what we believe to be an unregistered firearm, three conducted energy devices, commonly called tasers, or in the racing industry referred to as jiggers,” said Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson.
“And at another property, we also seized a fourth conducted energy device, and a small quantity of what we believe to be cocaine.”
The use of a “jigger” as a training tool for horses – a taser (or similar) that administers an electric shock to drive performance – is a cruel and illegal practice.
The specific allegations – if any – that have been put to Weir or members of his staff are unknown at this stage.
“My first thought was that if he’s charged, surely his horses will be scratched,” said Trevor.
“But it’s still unclear if that’s going to happen. Even if it did happen, theoretically somebody else could have all the horses transferred to them and they’d carry on.”
Weir is known as a very hands-on trainer, working extremely hard and overseeing the programs of the hundreds of horses in his care. It would follow that any interruption in his schedule – even for a day or two – would have some sort of impact on horses set to race imminently.
“It really depends on which horse and where it’s at anyway,” said Trevor.
“A good example is Nature Strip. It’s six lengths ahead of anything it’ll face on Saturday, so you can’t change your opinion too much overall. Even if it’s advantage is – for example – cut in half, it’s still a long way ahead.”
In terms of any potential illegal training methods, Trev urges caution in overstating the true impact.
“If anything was being done, I wouldn’t have thought it’d be something that would change a horse completely. Often these things might add, for example, 10 per cent. That’s if it’s happening at all… we don’t know yet.
“The thing about assessing Weir horses is they’re always the fittest horses. They work up the hill at Ballarat a lot, and they do so in extremely quick times. That’s not fitness they’re going to lose. I doubt we’ll see any horse fall off the form cliff overnight.
“I think I’ll just be careful in forecasting any sharp improvements for them just for now and wait for the dust to settle. And any recent big improvers will be something I’m wary of, but I am anyway.
“So all-in-all, we’ll just play it a bit safer and see how things pan out.”
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