POLICE say they 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.
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” or “buzzers” – 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.”
Paterson said he could not say whether there would be further arrests.
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.”
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 and last season alone saddled more than 450 winners.
-extracts from The Guardian.