Darren Weir’s betting activity in spotlight
Embattled trainer Darren Weir is suspected of using secret betting accounts to place bets of almost $10,000 a race before his training empire ended with the infamous jigger scandal.
Victoria Police and racing authorities analysed Weir's betting accounts - and those held by associates - from 2001-19, and suspect the former trainer often backed longer-priced runners over his own stable favourite.
But while his average bet size through his TAB account was $845, investigators found bets he may have made through other accounts was more than $1800.
He is suspected of placing $9200 on Peaceful State to beat more fancied stablemate Cliffs Edge in the Group 1 Australian Guineas through an account held by a close friend.
Peaceful State, which started at $8.50, finished second. Cliff's Edge, a $4.60 favourite, ran seventh.
Authorities are believed to have dissected various elements surrounding 80 races.
Weir, assistant trainer Jarrod McLean and former Weir employee Tyson Kermond face a string of alleged animal cruelty charges after they were allegedly caught by police using jiggers.
The trio will return to court in February to answer accusations they used the banned devices on Yogi, Red Cardinal and Tosen Basil.
McLean, who could potentially face a life ban after performance-enhancing EPO was allegedly found in his bedroom during the January police raids, and Kermond are also alleged to have struck horses with lengths of plastic pipe.
Weir, 49, is due to reappear in court on February 14 to answer six counts of alleged animal cruelty against racehorses.
Particulars of the charges include "engaging in the torturing, abusing, overworking and terrifying" of a thoroughbred racehorse and three counts of "causing unreasonable pain or suffering" to a racehorse.
He is also charged with possession of an unregistered firearm and conspiracy to defraud RV stewards.
While it is not illegal for trainers to bet, authorities are concerned over the motivation for Weir's suspected deception.
According to analysis seen by the Sunday Herald Sun, Weir tended to wait until horses were at least four runs into their preparation and were nearing peak fitness.
He would often apply blinkers - a habit police suspect was directly linked to the use of jiggers on horses wearing the headgear while exercising on treadmills.
The race-day application of blinkers is designed to remind the horse of being struck with jiggers, a barbaric practice frowned upon by most participants.
Investigators found Weir's confidence levels in horses contesting their fourth race into a preparation, wearing blinkers and ridden by a "favoured jockey" were higher than normal.
They also discovered the true owners of the suspect accounts bet far less than Weir.
In one case, the account owner would bet between $1 and $5. One of Weir's suspected wagers was for $4600 eachway through the same account.
Another account user would bet between $50 and $100. At times when Weir is thought to have accessed the accounts, the bets would increase "tenfold."
Investigators say the motive was likely to be to hide the true identity of the bettor.