UPDATE 11.40am: A new caretaker trainer has been announced at Forest Lodge.
In an email to owners seen by The Courier on Tuesday morning, Darren Weir Racing business manager Mick Leonard revealed he had been approved by Racing Victoria stewards to take over the trainer's role in the interim.
Leonard said the person most likely to take over as full-time trainer of the operation is someone of "high regard in the industry".
Below is Leonard's email to owners:
A) As an interim measure I, Mick Leonard, have been approved by RVL stewards as caretaker trainer for Forest Lodge.
B) The stables are able to be used whilst we negotiate for a new trainer to take over the Forest Lodge operation. Discussions between Ballarat Turf Club and these trainers are well advanced and we hope for an announcement as soon as possible.
C) The trainer most likely to take over is a person of high regard in the industry. Naturally, your option to subsequently select a different trainer of your choice is not affected by the interim arrangements.
D) Any horse in the early and middle stages of its preparation will continue to be trained at Forest Lodge. Our existing staff will care for these horses with the same skill, knowledge and commitment that they have always demonstrated. In the interim we are not allowed to trial or race horses.
This is obviously a period of great duress for the stable and our staff in particular. We would very much appreciate our owners' continued support whilst we arrange the transfer of our premises to the incoming trainer. This support will ensure our staff are employed on an on-going basis, which is a major concern of myself, Darren and Racing Authorities.
UPDATE 10.45am: Darren Weir is set to appear in front of the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board to answer the six charges leveled against him.
The Courier also understands there is a meeting of trainers based around the Ballarat Turf Club taking place this morning.
UPDATE 7AM: Besieged trainer Darren Weir is facing a four-year disqualification and will not contest the charges against him after a marathon hearing on Monday night.
The show-cause hearing involving Weir and his Warrnambool foreman Jarrod McLean continued for more than eight hours at Racing Victoria headquarters on Monday as both men and their lawyers argued their case as to why they should be able to keep training in the immediate future.
The duo arrived just after 1.30pm on Monday afternoon for the scheduled 2pm start of what turned out to be a marathon session at the Epsom road base from which Victorian racing is administered.
Racing Victoria issued a statement just after 1am to say the hearings had concluded and that Weir will not contest the three charges against him, including the charges relating to the use of "jiggers", electronic devices to deliver an electronic shock to affect the performance of a horse.
Stewards have asked the Racing Victoria's disciplinary board to determine the charges laid against Mr Weir as soon as possible. They will seek disqualification for a period of four years "given the severity of the charges".
"Mr Weir was informed that this was the stewards’ position before he determined not to contest the charges," a Racing Victoria statement said.
Mr McLean told the hearing he will be contesting the charges against him, which include the alleged possession of a "jigger".
A set of "significant conditions" have been imposed on Mr McLean's operations until the charges are finalised by the board, including a ban on receiving any horses to train that were in the care of Mr Weir.
Charges against Tyson Kermond will not be pursued.
UPDATE 11.15pm: Darren Weir’s training future remained unclear to the public as The Courier went to print on Monday evening.
Weir and his assistant Jarrod McLean spent the afternoon and evening locked in a room at Racing Victoria headquarters battling the stewards’ show cause notices which threatened to suspend their training licences.
The two men, who were at the centre of last Wednesday morning’s police raids on stables in Miners Rest and Warrnambool, attended the RV offices just before 2pm where they were greeted by waiting media representatives.
There had been speculation that Weir would hand over his licence, but that didn’t appear to be the case as the hearing dragged on long into the night.
On Friday, Weir was issued with six charges from RV stewards which related to the possession of electronic devices – known in racing circles as “jiggers” – failure to give evidence at an inquiry, failure to comply with a direction of the stewards and conduct prejudicial to the image, interests or welfare of racing.
Horses trained by Weir and McLean were scratched from Friday night’s Moonee Valley meeting and from other venues across the weekend.
When The Courier went to print, Weir still had three runners accepted for Tuesday’s Warrnambool meeting.
If permitted to run, they will be Weir’s first gallopers to race since Pakenham on Thursday evening.
UPDATE 8.30pm: Trainer Darren Weir and his associate Jarrod McLean are still in the show cause hearing at Racing Victoria’s headquarters.
The meeting has stretched for more than six hours.
UPDATE 2.30pm: Besieged trainer Darren Weir and his Warrnambool stable foreman Jarrod McLean arrived at Racing Victoria's Epsom Road headquarters 20 minutes early on Monday to begin the process that could determine the fate of their careers.
Both men were accompanied by a legal representative as they entered the Racing Victoria headquarters via a back door ahead of the scheduled 2pm hearing.
The entrance was initially locked and they only gained access when the door was opened by waiting journalists, whom they then brushed past as they headed to the room where the in camera hearing was to be held.
Weir, who has dominated Victorian racing for the last five years, was tight-lipped when asked if was going to hand in his licence.
McLean, who is also a group 1 winning trainer in his own right, was asked if he would fight the charges and replied in the affirmative.
EARLIER: Monday shapes as a momentous day in the career of Darren Weir, with a show cause hearing set to determine his immediate training future in this state.
Weir, along with assistant trainer Jarrod McLean, were asked to show why their licenses shouldn’t be suspended when Racing Victoria stewards issued charges on both men on Friday.
That show cause hearing was adjourned to continue at 2pm on Monday.
All Weir and McLean horses were scratched from the races on Friday and across the weekend as an interim order from stewards.
Weir’s six charges related to the possession of electronic devices – known in racing circles as “jiggers” – failure to give evidence at an inquiry, failure to comply with a direction of the stewards and conduct prejudicial to the image, interests or welfare of racing.
Over the weekend, the exodus of horses from Weir’s care continued, with many owners organising the transfer of gallopers to new stables.
Some of Weir’s stars have already been transferred to new yards, including Victoria Derby champion Extra Brut, which is described on the Racing Australia website as now in the care of Caulfield-based partnership Ciaron Maher and David Eustace.
Maher and Eustace also now have former Weir guns Night's Watch and Land Of Plenty.
Last year’s Warrnambool Cup winner Gallic Chieftain, which is owned by OTI Racing, is now in the care of Ballarat trainer Archie Alexander.
Amphitrite, last spring’s Thousand Guineas winner, is now in the care of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig, while Trap For Fools, which gave McLean his maiden group 1 winner in November’s Mackinnon Stakes, is expected to head to Robert Hickmott.
Racing NSW has given Weir until Tuesday to respond to a show cause notice regarding running horses in the state.
WEIR STARS ON THE MOVE
Chris Waller: Nature Strip, Yes Yes Yes, Hulk
Kris Lees: Brave Smash
Ciaron Maher Racing: Extra Brut, Night's Watch, Land Of Plenty
Lindsay Park: Amphitrite, Hawkshot, Chauffeur and an as-yet unraced two-year- old. More expected
Patrick Payne: Banachek, Invincible Amici, Nussink
Archie Alexander: Gallic Chieftain
Phillip Stokes: All Too Hiyung arrived on Saturday, along with six owned by syndicator Wylie Dalziel. Expecting a number of Peter Moody-owned horses
Peter and Paul Snowden: Expecting to receive several horses