One of the most incredible weeks in Australian racing history reached its dramatic climax when champion trainer Darren Weir was disqualified for four years by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board yesterday.
The 48-year-old appeared at the Wednesday morning hearing, supported by legal representative Patrick Wheelahan, but didn't speak, with the RAD Board requiring two-and-a-half hours before delivering their verdict, reported Racing.com.
Racing Victoria stewards had recommended a four-year period of disqualification for Weir after Monday's show cause hearing, which lasted more than 11 hours.
Weir's period of disqualification will commence immediately.
Weir, through Wheelahan, offered a plea of 'no contest' to four charges, three of them relating to the possession of an electronic apparatus on his licensed premises, and the other for conduct prejudicial to the image of racing.
Consequently the three-man RAD Board panel of judges, led by chairman John Bowman, required little time to agree that the charges were proven. Therefore the focus turned to the matter of penalty.
RV legal counsel Jeff Gleeson, SC, told the RAD Board that the recommended four-year penalty should be maintained.
Gleeson said that electronic devices "damage the image of racing" and "places winning ahead of the welfare of the horse".
The RAD Board heard how trainer Paul Presuker received a two-and-a-half year penalty for possession of an electronic device in March 2007.
However, Gleeson reaffirmed that Weir is 'an industry leader' and therefore carries the 'benefit and burden' of holding that title.
In making a penalty submission on behalf of Weir, Wheelahan said that the leading trainer had cooperated willingly over the past week since his stables were raided.
Bowman, along with fellow RAD Board judges Joshua Bernstein and Brian Forrest, then retired to consider the penalty submissions.
Bowman and Forrest agreed with the recommended four-year disqualification period while Bernstein wished to impose a five-year ban but as the majority of the panel agreed with a four-year ban, the agreed penalty stood.
Weir exits the training ranks at the top of Melbourne's training premiership for the 2018/19 season with 93 wins, 61 victories clear of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig, who were his nearest rivals.
The steady stream of horses exiting Weir's Ballarat and Warrnambool properties will continue in light of yesterday's verdict.