Darren Weir Racing: the operation
I’m based at Ballarat and that’s where most of the galloping work’s done so I spend most of my time there, but then get to Warrnambool as often as I can. We just have a policy that if the horses go to Warrnambool they don’t go to the track, they all go to the beach and the sand dunes and it’s very limited galloping down there. You gallop them at the sand dunes so it’s very easy to run down there and it works well.
I certainly enjoy the hands-on side of it, don’t mind riding the horse and that sort of stuff, but as we’ve got bigger you don’t get as much time to do that sort of stuff and you’re just watching than anything.
We’re now fortunate enough to have a straight 1400m training track. That’s been the key, I think, to our success. We can gallop horses 365 days a year here and you don’t have to change the worksheet due to weather or anything like that, plus opening up the Warrnambool stable as well.
It’s a complete different regime to training on the tracks so I guess when you get a new horse from a good stable, if they come to our Ballarat stable we can only do the same thing as what they were doing. So that was the reason in opening the beach stable and that’s why I think it’s been so successful. It’s just a different training regime and it was fairly quite good for horses that have had soundness issues.
I think any horse can benefit from it, but it’s very hard to train an unraced horse from the beach because, obviously, you need running rails and jumping out of barriers and all that sort of stuff to educate them but once they’ve had a run or two you can train on any sort of horse at the beach. It’s sort of more just to try and … You get the older horse just to try and get his will back to win again and get him sound and well and when you go to the sand it’s actually quite a good ride as well. It’s an enjoyable ride for yourself and the horse, so I think all that stuff is a part of why the beach works for us.
We school the horses all the time. We’ve actually got a little arena at our Ballarat stable with 12 hooks in it so all our horses jump at some stage throughout their preparation. Probably, to be honest, they jump over the logs at least once or twice a week, every horse in the stable.
When we get a new horse, unless it’s a good horse and it’s going to target the good races, and you’ve got to plan out your preparation for the horses like for the spring and the autumn and those sort of horses. When you just get a maiden horse, we don’t plan anything out. Once we get them up to trial stage and we’re happy with the way that they trial and they’re ready to go to the races, then we pick out a race and then just from then on just follow the process of finding the next suitable race that suits the horse.
We didn’t have our race preparations right and it’s very important, speed maps and following the right horses and where to go on the different tracks. We’ve employed a fellow called Peter Ellis and that’s what he does for us. He does speed maps and walks tracks and all that sort of stuff. He’s a big part in where we ride our horses in races and what part of the track we go to.
He’ll walk the tracks often two or three times throughout the meeting. He watches it carefully, and we can change things throughout the day. He obviously sends us what he thinks at the start of the day and the night before we get that and then we have a read of it. Then we can obviously change it if the pattern of racing is not suiting or is a bit of a bias to go somewhere else, we change that on the day. It works really well.
The main jockeys we use are the people that help us out at home. If you ride work and you help the stable out, you’ll get rewarded with race rides and that’s how I’ve been from day one, and it’s working really well. Now we have obviously Brad Rawiller, Dean Yendall, Michelle Payne, Damian Lane, Harry Coffey. They’re always riding work so they get the majority of their rides.
We use trials quite a lot. We’re very big on trialling horses. We can trial up our hill track every day of the year so we use that quite a bit and we take horses to places, especially our Warrnambool horses, to places like Camperdown, Terang, Mortlake, those sort of places just to give them jump outs, and it works really well. We trial horses quite a lot.
Listen to the whole interview on the Betting 360 podcast here.