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Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:50 am

Darren Weir sells Ballarat stables to Ciaron Maher after four-year ban from racing

Irishman Ciaron Maher will make Ballarat his fifth training base following his purchase of Darren Weir's Forest Lodge stables.
Weir has been banned from the sport for four years after electric-shock 'jiggers' were found in his bedroom during an early morning raid.

He was banned for possessing the outlawed devices, which are known to be used to mentally condition horses to run faster in races, and for behaviour prejudicial to the image of racing.

Maher refused to reveal the stable's purchase price, but confirmed he would be keeping as many existing stable staff as possible. "Obviously it's very sad for him [Weir] but on the other hand it's a great opportunity for us," Maher said. "I've known 'Weiry' for a long time and quite often have a yarn about training and different methods and stuff like that.

Darren Weir's Ballarat operations Forest Lodge has been sold after the Victorian trainer was banned for four years. "We already provide a vast array of training operations and locations for our horses, including traditional track training at Caulfield, beach training at Balnarring and dressage and arena work at our Pakenham pre-training farm."
Forrest Lodge becomes the team's fifth training base, with Maher and Eustace also recently opening a satellite stable in Sydney.

Maher's return from suspension
Racing Victoria stewards have approved Maher's takeover of the stable less than 12 months after he was suspended for conduct prejudicial to racing's image. In September 2017, Maher was suspended for six months and fined $75,000 for his role in the Azkadellia ownership scandal. The 36-year-old was outed for his role in training horses owned by convicted conman Peter Foster. Maher returned to training in early 2018 before playing a prominent hand in last year's Spring Carnival.

He has since taken over training a number of Weir's Group 1 winners including Land of Plenty, Voodoo Lad and last year's Victoria Derby winner Extra Brut.

Racing Victoria warns it's watching
In approving the transfer, Racing Victoria stewards warned Maher and Eustace that stewards would be keeping a close eye on their new stables.

"We trust this morning's announcement by the Ballarat Turf Club and Ciaron Maher Racing will be welcomed by those staff affected by Darren Weir's disqualification and provide them with greater certainty about their immediate working future after a challenging week," RV CEO Giles Thompson said.

"The stewards have advised all parties that they will continue to closely monitor both the requirements of the transfer and the adherence of Mr Weir to the terms of his disqualification."

Racing Victoria CEO Giles Thompson says he thinks Darren Weir's staff will welcome the news. Racing Victoria confirmed on Thursday morning that stewards had approved Maher and Eustace to take over the stable, on the following conditions:

That the transfer of any horses from Weir to the Maher-Eustace partnership must remain on an individual basis by application of the owners and subject to the approval of the stewards; and
That the Maher-Eustace partnership will not be permitted to nominate any horse under the care of Weir at the time of his disqualification on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 until such time as it has been transferred to their care with the approval of stewards.

Maher is also considering taking-over Weir's Warrnambool stables.
Maher commenced his career in Warrnambool as a jockey, and trained his maiden Group 1 winner Tears I Cry from the south-west Victorian suburb. He said he's thinking about also taking over some of Weir's stables at the Warrnambool Racecourse.

"When Ballarat kicks off and we get a good handle on it, Warrnambool's definitely an option," he said. "Obviously that system works from the Ballarat stable given Darren's success, we'd definitely love to get back down there again."

Maher and Eustace have 231 horses in work, including more than 15 former Darren Weir-trained gallopers.
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