By the time Red Cardinal lined up for last year’s Melbourne Cup, the Darren Weir-trained horse had allegedly been given electric shocks as part of a protracted and covert regime.
It’s just one in a series of explosive allegations levelled against 49-year-old Cup-winning trainer Weir, his former assistant and right-hand man Jarrod McLean, 38, as well as stablehands William Hernan and Tyson Kermond – both aged 31.
The four men face a combined 34 charges, ranging from corrupt betting to conspiring to deceive stewards and animal torture involving the thoroughbred, as well as Cup hopefuls Yogi and Tosen Basil.
McLean, also a trainer in his own right, allegedly placed a corrupt $100 each-way Cup Day bet on Red Cardinal, which could have reaped $5200. His knowledge of the alleged horse mistreatment meant he used “corrupt conduct information” for the bet.
One of the police charges accuse Weir and McLean of conspiring “to cheat and defraud the stewards of Racing Victoria”.
Details of the allegations were released by Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday, less than two weeks out from this year’s Cup.
McLean faces 16 charges, including using poly pipes and electric shock devices on Red Cardinal and Yogi at Warrnambool during last year’s spring racing carnival, between October 24 and Cup Day on November 6.
In relation to Red Cardinal, his alleged actions were “designed to deceive the stewards and Racing Victoria, consisting of the psychological conditioning of the horse through the use of a conducted energy device, blinkers, poly pipe and whistling while training on a treadmill to affect the performance of the horse”.
The techniques were allegedly part of an “illicit covert training regime” designed to deceive racing stewards while giving horses an edge for betting purposes.
The three thoroughbreds had been in contention for the Melbourne Cup, but Red Cardinal was the only one to get a start and finished last.
McLean, Weir and Kermond are all charged with using shock devices to torture, abuse, terrify and overwork the three horses at Warrnambool on October 30.
The three men also allegedly conspired to cheat and defraud Racing Victoria stewards between October 24 and November 17.
Among allegedly corrupt bets McLean is accused of placing was a $100 bet on Yogi and two other horses on November 2, for prize money worth $2570.
He is also accused of passing information about the illegal training regime to another man, Colin Cannon, for betting purposes.
Hernan faces one charge of putting a $50 bet on Yogi during a race on November 2 in a bid to win $600, allegedly using information McLean passed to him about the illegal training regime.
A lawyer for the men indicated the court case could be moved to Warrnambool after additional documents were tendered.
The charges – including 10 against Weir and seven against Kermond – stem from police raids on the former’s Warrnambool and Ballarat stables in January.
The four men remain on bail and are expected back in court on February 14, 2020.
Weir was banned from racing for four years following the raids, while McLean, Kermond and Hernan are all suspended while the criminal charges against them are finalised.
Racing Victoria has not ruled out further charges, saying it’s committed to protecting the integrity of the sport and ensuring the welfare of horses.