Owner hopes he hasn’t been ‘hoodwinked’ by Weir
LEADING owner Terry Henderson is holding out hope he hasn't been "hoodwinked" by Darren Weir, saying he was "shocked" by allegations being aired against Australia's biggest horse trainer.
Henderson was stunned when he heard at around 7.30am on Wednesday that the man who trains "eight or nine" of his horses had been the subject of an early morning raid conducted by Racing Victory integrity officers as well as police at properties in Ballarat and Warrnambool.
He said the uncertainty surrounding the allegations made against Weir, whom has trained for him and his OTI operations for almost a decade, were disturbing in a professional and personal sense.
But while Henderson stressed that integrity had always been paramount to his business operations, he stressed he wasn't going to make rash judgments until he received more clarity surrounding the ongoing investigation into Weir.
"It's very uneasy and very concerning," Henderson told the Herald Sun.
"If some of these allegations that you are hearing prove to be true, it is absolutely shocking."
"We will wait and see how this plays out.
"You have got to measured but at some stage we will be asking some serious questions, and if we don't get the answers that we want, it will be very distressing.
"You deal with people on the basis that they are all running by the rules. If that proves not to be the case, then you have been hoodwinked, and none of us like being hoodwinked."
Henderson and his highly successful OTI Racing arm have had a number of stars in the Weir camp in recent years including triple Group 1 winner Gailo Chop, who was recently rated as among the world's elite horses.
He has also had raced other stable favourites Gallic Chieftain, Night's Watch, and Mantastic, the latter who will resume at Caulfield on Saturday.
Henderson called on Racing Victoria to make swift decisions on what might happen to Weir's horses in the interim if the investigation continues, to allow owners greater clarity leading into the autumn carnival.
"I'm in shock, we've got eight or nine horses with Darren, and some of them are pretty good horses." he said.
"We like the guy (Weir), and we admire what he has been able to achieve, so it will be interesting to see what happens next.
"This is where Racing Victoria have got to be very forward and let the racing industry know very quickly about what is going on here."
Henderson said OTI had always had no tolerance for those who flout the rules of racing, citing the 2012 decision to dump Damien Oliver from Cups hope My Quest For Peace after it had been reported that the star hoop had bet $10,000 through a third party on Miss Octopussy to win a race at Moonee Valley in October 2010.
Oliver would later be disqualified for 10 months.
Weir's stable late on Wednesday issued a statement to the thousands of owners affected by the investigation, saying it was "business as usual."
The message, sent by the stable's business manager Mick Leonard, explained: "As you are most likely aware, Darren Weir Racing is the subject of an external review. At this time the investigation is ongoing."
"Our main aim is to ensure our owners are not disadvantaged by this process in any way, and accordingly it is business as usual in regards to training and care of your horses.
"We will make a a more detailed announcement as soon as possible and are hopeful this will occur sometime (on Thursday). Thank you for your ongoing support, consideration and loyalty to Darren Weir Racing."
LLOYD BACKS RACING VICTORIA
Six-time Melbourne Cup winning owner Lloyd Williams has thrown his considerable support behind Racing Victoria's integrity department in the wake of the explosive allegations made against champion trainer Darren Weir.
While Williams would not go into specifics about the police raids on two properties connected to Weir in Ballarat and Warrnambool, nor the allegations, he has long been an advocate of providing racing stewards with greater powers to catch those willing to play outside the rules.
"I totally support the integrity department … (RVL executive general manger of integrity) Jamie S(tier) and (RVL chief steward) Robert C(ram)," Williams told the Herald Sun.
"Integrity is fundamental for the governance of the industry."
Australian Trainers' Association president and leading Victorian trainer Robbie Griffiths said it was "in appropriate" to comment on the Weir allegations at this stage as "the matter is still in its infancy and no charges have been laid".
But Griffiths wanted to stress to the racing public that "if the Racing Integrity department are prepared to investigate the biggest name in Australian training ranks, it confirms how serious racing officials are about the issue of integrity."
"As sad as the investigations are, it should give confidence to anyone who wants to be involved in racing, whether they be trainers or owners."
Ballarat Turf Club chief executive Lachlan McKenzie said the allegations had been "a great shock" to the town's thriving racing industry.
He said he expected Weir's Forest Lodge horse to turn up to track work this morning, despite the shock hitting hard for those connected to Ballarat racing.
"(Weir) helped to put us on the map but we fully endorse RV's actions and if rules have been broken, he needs to dealt with according to the rules," McKenzie said.
"I just want it to be wrapped up quickly."