Top Australian horse trainer faces trial for cheating, cruelty

Sydney (AFP) –


Melbourne Cup-winning Australian trainer Darren Weir was committed to stand trial Monday on animal cruelty and conspiracy to defraud charges stemming from the 2018 spring racing carnival.

A magistrate ruled there was enough evidence for a jury to decide whether Weir, his former assistant Jarrod McLean and stable hand Tyson Kermond conspired to cheat and deceive racing stewards in Victoria state.

They are accused of horse torture, including the alleged use of electronic shock devices known as "jiggers" on three thoroughbreds to enhance their performance in the lead up to the 2018 season.

All three pleaded not guilty via video link at the Ballarat Magistrates Court with another hearing scheduled for November 19.

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

He was banned from the sport in Victoria last year after dramatic police raids on his stables.