RV chairman's statement on VRT disqualifications for Weir, McLean, Kermond

Racing Victoria (RV) Chair, Tim Eddy, has issued the following statement after the Victorian Racing Tribunal (VRT) on Friday disqualified Darren Weir, Jarrod McLean and Tyson Kermond for serious breaches of the Rules of Racing in relation to acts of cruelty on three horses through the use of a prohibited electrical device known as a ‘jigger’.

The VRT imposed a disqualification of two years on Weir for each of his seven charges, McLean was disqualified for 18 months for each of his seven charges and Kermond was disqualified for six months for each of his seven charges. The VRT ordered that the penalties be served concurrently for each of Weir, Kermond and McLean’s charges.

This decision comes after RV Stewards conducted a thorough investigation into the circumstances of the use of the jigger which, in their opinion, necessitated interviewing 53 people, along with receiving and reviewing other materials relevant to the investigation.

Australian Rule of Racing 263 outlines the prohibitions on persons and their conduct while disqualified. Among a broad range of prohibitions, they are unable to attend racecourses or licensed premises, participate in any way in the preparation for racing or training of a horse, and derive any direct or indirect financial benefit from thoroughbred racing or breeding.

Mr Eddy said, “Darren Weir, Jarrod McLean and Tyson Kermond’s conduct struck at the heart of the two pillars upon which the horse racing industry stands – animal welfare and integrity.

“The industry’s social licence depends upon the reality and the perception that racehorses are not mistreated, and that races are conducted on an even playing field without contraventions of the Rules of Racing.

“The actions of the individuals in this case not only severely damaged racing’s reputation, but also tarnished the image of hard-working, rule-abiding individuals in our industry who devote their lives to the horses and act for the betterment of the sport.

“Judge Bowman today described their conduct as abhorrent and deserving of condemnation. We wholeheartedly agree. There is absolutely no place for jiggers in horse racing.

“Acts of cruelty on horses deserve widespread condemnation and perpetrators to be penalised. The community expects no less of racing. Yogi, Tosen Basil and Red Cardinal deserved no less.” 

The VRT adjourned the matter to make a future determination on the dates from which each of Weir, McLean and Kermond’s periods of disqualification take effect. The VRT directed the parties to file written submissions over coming weeks and advised that a Directions Hearing would be held on or before 16 August 2024 if required.