Melbourne Cup-winning trainer charged with animal cruelty

Darren Weir (L)trained Prince of Penzance, which was ridden to victory in the 2015 Melbourne Cup by Michelle Payne (R) (AFP Photo/PAUL CROCK)
Darren Weir (L)trained Prince of Penzance, which was ridden to victory in the 2015 Melbourne Cup by Michelle Payne (R) (AFP Photo/PAUL CROCK)

Melbourne Cup-winning Australian trainer Darren Weir was charged with animal cruelty offences Wednesday, months after receiving a four-year racing ban for possessing electronic devices used to shock horses into running faster.

Weir trained the New Zealand thoroughbred Prince of Penzance, which was ridden to victory in the 2015 Cup by the first female jockey to win the race.

But he was banned from the sport in Victoria state this year after dramatic police raids on his stables that allegedly discovered Taser-like "jiggers", which are used to prompt a horse to perform better on the track.

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Police said in a statement that a 49-year-old man was charged with animal cruelty, conspiracy to defraud racing officials, and illegal possession of a weapon following a search of two properties in January.

National broadcaster ABC identified the man as Weir.

Three other men were also charged Wednesday with offences connected to the raids, including corruption in racing, animal cruelty and cocaine possession.

The scandal likely spells the end of Weir's career.

The Australian newspaper reported that he sold his stables just weeks after the raids.

The peak racing body in neighbouring New South Wales state also issued Weir with a show cause notice earlier this year to explain why he should not be disciplined there.

He is due to appear in a Melbourne court on October 23.

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