Behind Darren Weir and the numbers… By Bruce Clark

Behind Darren Weir and the numbers… By Bruce Clark

Trainer Darren Weir makes history with 400 winners in a season.

Let’s start with something from Neale Daniher’s inspirational address to the Melbourne Demons at the MCG last Monday.

“There’s a saying,” he said ‘when all’s said and done, more’s said than done. And the mark of a person is not what they say, it’s what they do.’

Much will be said about Darren Kenneth Weir’s achievements to date (not much from himself though) and that he reached the remarkable figure of 400 wins for the season at Ballarat on Thursday.

That of course eclipses the world record 348 the previous season that took the seemingly set in stone John Hawkes record of 332 achieved when he had stables in four states.

What Weir has done though is not just set records, 400 is obviously an average of more than a winner a day, but some perspective is that is 142 more than the Hayes/Hayes/Dabernig combo and they’ve already eclipsed their previous season high mark.

Chris Waller has more metropolitan winners with 169 (Weir has 152), but overall he is back on 234 winners for the season.

Weir could easily reach 450 winners this season and who knows as his massive stable and operation continues to expand, what he could achieve next season.

As Ancient King with Weir’s latest new ally John Allen drove to win #400 at Ballarat on Thursday, Ric McIntosh called him “the greatest horseman of the modern era”.

But here is my perspective, given I am privileged enough to be working with Darren on his biography. Not surprisingly it is simply to be called “Weiry”. Like him, no fuss, no airs, not much said, just a lot done. And thankfully there is a lot to be written.

But here is the perspective. And it proves nothing but hard work, dedication, horsemanship and an innate ability to understand a horse is what has got Weir to where he is.

Berriwillock, in the Mallee country is hardly a hotbed of thoroughbred racing but it is home to D K Weir. In fact the first man in Berriwillock (1891) with a Mallee roller was a Weir (Robert), the first person buried in the cemetery was a Weir (John). There has always been a Weir in Berriwillock but it is D K that has put the spec of a town on the larger map.

And it is where his understanding of the animal was gleamed.

As a three-year-old on the tear, mother Noelene could always find young Darren around at Pappy McLachlan’s on the corner of Morris St and Alexander Avenue in main town Berriwillock.

Pappy (Kevin) had shetlands and some larger ponies and young Darren was fixated.

Aunty Wilma would ask Darren what he saw in a horse and is quoted as saying ‘they talk to you”.

Darren was not known to talk to many people and it was only he who could ride his first pony “Sonny”. He had the knack.

The story is then well known, from stables to farrier to training but Weir was a slow starter at winning.

As mentor Terry O’Sullivan would say “he used to work the horses as hard as he worked himself.”

“I reckon it was 12 months before he trained a winner,” O’Sullivan would say.

And that was a mare called Epaulay at Avoca under Peter Young on Caulfield Cup day 1995 in the colour’s O’Sullivan’s wife Robyn designed for Weir as a 21st birthday present.

But for the man who would chalk up 400 in a season it took Weir another 182 days for his second winner, Athapascan Hero at St Arnaud in April 1996. (John Keating was the jockey).

Even that didn’t start a landslide. It was another 225 days until the same horse gave Weir career win 3 at Edenhope in December 2016 for Walton Bones.

Then another 68 days later Tredavoe for Neville Wilson would win at Ararat then back up two weeks later (16 days) and win at Terang.

It wasn’t until Brad Rawiller got on Rather Yallah, owned by john Richards, that a Weir city win came and that was in Adelaide in November 2000, backed up by a debut Melbourne metropolitan win on November 23, 2000.

Rawiller now sits on 497 career wins for Weir – “I first met him when he was working on the barriers at Murtoa”,” Rawiller said.

But again it was slow going for Weir and puts the current success in total perspective.

In that season, there were just four metropolitan winners, the same as the 2001/02 season though that brought a Group 1 via She’s Archie and emerged Skewiff.

But there was no snowball, the 2002/03 season produced just four city winner (Skewiff earned 3 of them), though it was the first season he saddled 100 winners.

Some setbacks in 2003/04 saw no metropolitan winners and just 51  winners but that would be the end of that with every season since producing over 100 winners, culminating in this latest world record.

There was a long drought from She’s Archie group 1 SA Oaks in 2002 until Platelet went to Adelaide for a G1 double in the Sportingbet Classic into the Goodwood in 2013 but since then the G1 tally has continued an upward spiral with three becoming six becoming eight in the past three seasons.

Rival trainers marvel at how he runs such a stable of size. Of course he delegates well but there is only one captain and driver. And if Darren knows Ancient King as just “Ancient” or Yogi (as “Bear”) then that is how he does it. Pay The Aces was known as “Hopeless”, they all get names and that’s how Weir knows them, even if he doesn’t know the name of all of his staff.

Weir and his team has sent out more than 2400 runners this season and has bolstered field sizes across the state in Victoria, that’s 700 more than the Lindsay Park contribution but shows the scope of the businesses of both operations.

And one that started with a pony in Berriwillock. And father – Roy – known as Boss – who had a knack with animals of a different kind – ostriches – where only he had a knack to incubate the eggs and supply an income for a young family in tough trying Mallee times.

And at the Golden Crown pub in Taverner St, they will be watching “Weiry” as he saddles his runners this weekend, two at Geelong Friday, three in Adelaide Saturday, 11 at The Valley, two at Wodonga and one at Sale Sunday.

Try Camdus race 5 Moonee Valley as the best on Saturday but be assured there is a Weir winner hovering over any race.