Harness Racing Victoria
Former participant Rod Weightman reflects on his life in harness racing and the “very poor decision” that changed the course of his career and life.
How did you get involved in harness racing?
I guess it was a natural progression with my father, Alan, having trained since the early ’60s.
He had considerable success with a horse called Shamrock Isle, who he won numerous races at the Melbourne Showgrounds with, and many more in later years with cast-offs or bad-legged horses.
Back then we lived right across the road from Bray Raceway and ours was one of the many houses in the area that had stables in the backyard, so there was always a couple of someone else’s cast-offs in the barn that my dad was training, which meant there were boxes to be mucked and waters filled before and after school, so it was inevitable that my brothers and sister would also train in there own right later on.
Why did you get involved in harness racing?
Though I was only a toddler when my dad was campaigning Shamrock Isle I remember being in awe of the atmosphere of racing at the Showgrounds, the huge crowds, and being so close to the thrills and spills was to me like watching the gladiators do battle at the coliseum and I couldn’t wait to be part of the action.
So from quite an early age I had my mind made up that harness racing would play a big part in my life.
You were quite successful during the early 2000s and earnt the reputation ‘King of the Claimers?’
Up until ’99 I had always had one or two in work as well as a full-time job. All of them were bought very cheaply, but paid there way some winning four or five races.
I had always rented a stable or yard, but after deciding to give training a go full-time purchased a farm that was on the market and gradually set it up with a new track and swimming pool.
This saved hours every day as I had claimed an old horse called Kotare Craft, who had been a wonderful horse but plagued by bad legs, and we used to travel out to Miners Rest everyday to swim him, which took three to four hours. Having my own pool played a big part in getting horses like Kotare Craft to peak fitness without the strain on there legs.
He actually started my success with claiming horses by taking out the heat and final of the inaugural Battle Of The Claimers series in 1999, which was worth about $20,000, so a great concept and opportunity for the older horses to come to headquarters and race for good prize money.
Where other stables focused on the Breeders Crown or Inter Dominion finals, my Inter Dom series came every September when the Battle Of The Claimers series was run.
I think I won multiple heats and the final of either the Battle Of The Claimers or the Claiming Masters series, which was for the dearer priced claimers for the next four years, so attractive did the series become for my stable. I even had “CLAIMA” personal plates on my truck.
There was a lot of research throughout the year finding the right horses and what, if any, soundness issues they may have had
And I only claimed horses that had been good horses in the past, so you knew they had the ability, it was just a matter of getting their confidence back and keeping them sound. They all proved to be good money spinners and were rewarded with a home for life on retirement, in fact I still have Kotare Craft at home. He gets hand fed twice a day and is still so sprightly I reckon he could lead most of the claimers around today a merry dance out of the machine even though he’s in his 30s.
You were disqualified in 2004 for your involvement in the blue magic investigation. Tell me about that?
Now there’s a name I wish I’d never heard of!
It was rumoured that some trainers in the Mildura area were using a blue substance that gave the horse a bit of an edge and helped recovery after a race and that the guy distributing it was from Ballarat and also did muscle manipulation on horses.
I contacted him and he was soon around and telling me how it helped the horse and that it didn’t show up in a swab or contravene the rules of racing, neither, as it turns out, were in fact correct.
It’s history now that I obtained some of the tubes and had my vet test them to ensure they didn’t in fact swab, which he confirmed at the time, and after using it and winning my swabs came back clear as well.
So, although nobody seemed to know exactly what was in the blue tubes, it didn’t swab, seemed to help some but not others and gave a competitive edge without cheating.
All the facts about blue magic, what it was and who was using it, came to light early one morning on the 28th April 2004 when Victoria police raided several properties, including my residence and stable complex, with HRV stewards in tow not far behind. The quantity of marijuana and ride-on mower that the police had found suddenly seemed to pale in significance to the 60-odd vials of blue magic that Terry pulled poker faced from the kitchen fridge. Little did I know it, but the events of that day would change the course of my life forever.
Why did you get involved in the use of blue magic?
In hindsight, having anything to do with an unmarked substance from an unknown person was never going to end well, even after having the stuff checked over.
The few years prior to hearing about blue magic’s existence I had great success and was getting offered better class of horses as well, I think at the time the stable was on a roll and to maintain the momentum I foolishly used blue magic.
What impact did the disqualification have on you personally?
At the time I was a bit shellshocked I think, it’s not everyday that car loads of police and HRV stewards come banging on your door first thing in the morning.
I had about 20 in work at the time and my licence was suspended on the spot and I couldn’t enter or transfer a horse, so I became disillusioned very quickly. That, combined with all the media coverage and overheads, saw me disband the stable in less than a week, though some owners didn’t need to be asked to find a new trainer. The trucks just turned up and they said ‘I’m here to pick up such and such’, and I hadn’t even been found guilty or penalised at that stage.
Some of my swabs that had been tested, cleared and frozen were eventually retested and found to contain propantheline bromide or blue magic, as it is commonly known.
I plead guilty to all charges and was disqualified for nine months on each count, which totalled 63 months. At the time it seemed like a lifetime up until a few years later when I was jailed for 10 and a half years for trafficking drugs, with my life having been turned upside down after I was disqualified.
What lessons did you learn as a result of the disqualification?
Certainly it was a lack of judgement and a very poor decision to ever get involved in blue magic.
Who could ever imagine that a life could be turned upside down by using what was purported to be a race day pick me up?
It shows that success doesn’t come overnight and decisions shouldn’t be made lightly when it comes to your career or livelihood.
What messages would you say to anyone who is currently the holder of any licence in harness racing in Victoria?
If you are planning on making harness racing your future then your licence is everything.
Like the saying goes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and it’s not a right to hold a licence but a privilege. Anyone who has been involved knows that it’s very hard to walk away from the sport once it’s in your blood. It’s unique that your siblings, parents or even grand parents can all compete or be involved in some way shape or form.
We all make mistakes in life, and once a man serves his time he has served it.
But few of us make the sort of mistakes that banned former harness racing trainer/driver Rod Weightman did, and not many of us keep repeating them like he did.
I don’t know Rod Weightman personally, but I do know that the rosy picture of being the naive innocent he is painting now as part of trying to get his license back is absolute and utter bullshit, and anyone who believes more than two words of it is a brain dead fool.
Rod Weightman is a long-time racing cheat, a major criminal, a drug trafficker,
Weightman was up to his neck in the Blue Magic affair.
Two family men named Robert Asquith and John Seaton died because of the Magic, and their deaths were directly related to it, and both of them left grieving wives and shattered kids behind.
Asquith and Seaton killed themselves because of Blue Magic or at least that’s what the coppers and the coroners say, but they got it wrong, at least as far as John Seaton goes anyway. He was tapped. Murdered. Killed so he couldn’t give evidence to back up the rollover statement he’d made to the NZ police telling them who was really behind Blue Magic, and that his fellow rollover witness Asquith was just the boy, not the man.
How do I know this?
Because I’m the only person in Australia outside of my lawyer who has full copies of the police and coroners reports, and the one relating to Seaton says that he died from suicide by a single REDACTED.
Sounds alright doesn’t it?
Except for one thing.
The police report – written and sworn by the two coppers who attended the scene – say that there were two spent cartridges found next to Seaton’s lifeless body on his downstairs laundry floor.
Ever heard of anyone REDACTED between the eyes before?
No, I haven’t either.
Every single person who bought and/or used the Magic was in some part small or large, responsible for their deaths.
Rod Weightman didn’t kill them, or at least not as far as I am aware, but just like the rest of them, he’s got those two blokes blood on his hands, and you can’t wash that away no matter how hard you try, because it’s a fact.
That’s part one of the real Rod Weightman story.
Forget the fairy tales.
This is part two.
to be continued
In the year 2004 Rod Weightman was convicted of possession of an illegal substance, dishonesty offences involving theft and receiving stolen property, and possession of ammunition – a quantity of bullets – in the Ballarat County Court.
He was convicted and fined $4000, and placed on a good behaviour bond for a separate minor charge of possessing cannabis.
The smart mail at the time was that he was lucky that the police didn’t find the gun.
In 2008 Rod Weightman was arrested for trafficking Class A drugs to the Bandidos.
The offences were alleged to have been committed as part of an organised drug distribution ring involving Weightman and other offenders linked to brothers from a family named Manariti.
Certain members of this particular family have long been rumoured to be senior members of the Australian mafia, in particular through their links with the Melbourne fruit markets and other families from Griffith will well-known names.
Weightman was granted bail on the trafficking charges and went straight back to work, clearly in breach of his bail conditions.
In April 2011 a joint police operation involving members of the AFP, the Australian Crime Commission, and Victorian police executed 25 search warrants on homes, businesses and a compounding chemist (pharmacy) in the State of Victoria.
The targets of the joint police operation were Rod Weightman, and his associate and co-participant in certain crimes, a man Mohammed Oueida, who was a senior member of the Comancheros.
25 kilograms of the Class A drug precursor DMX were siezed in the pharmacy raid. So was an unlicensed loaded sawn-off shotgun, two unregistered handguns, and enough ammo to wipe out every person and horse on the track at Melton.
Weightman and Ouedia were arrested and charged with numerous offences, the primary offence being trafficking methamphetamine, better known as Ice, a deadly dangerous drug that has resulted in many deaths.
At the time of his arrest, Weightman was still awaiting trial on the 2008 charges, and as these offences were committed while on bail he was remanded in custody.
In September 2011 he plead guilty to the 2008 matters, and received what seemed to be a very light sentence of of 15 months imprisonment, with 12 of those months suspended. As he had already served the 3 months while in custody, he was immediately released on bail.
Weightman’s compliance with his bail conditions lasted less than a minute, for as usual once he was freed, he returned straight to work.
In January 2013, while still awaiting trial on the extremely serious methamphetamine trafficking charges, he was raided again. This time the police found methamphetamine, MDA, a commercial quantity of 80 percent pure methamphetamine, and an loaded unregistered .45 Colt handgun hidden in a slot machine.
There was to be no more bail for Rod Weightman.
Before we come to his sentencing, let’s have a quick look at Weightman’s co-offender Mohammed Oueida.
This is he.
to be continued
In July 2013 in the Victorian County Court, a jury of normal people like you found Rod Weightman guilty of trafficking a commercial quantity of methamphetamine between May 2010 and April 2011.
It is almost certain that his offending had occurred over a much longer period.
Weightman pleaded guilty to a single charge of trafficking in methamphetamine on 7 April 2011.
He was not charged for his role as the cook and producer of huge volumes of Ice.
Weightman was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on the commercial trafficking charge, and 2 years and 6 months for the simple trafficking matter.
His non parole period was set at 6 years and 8 months.
In his sentencing remarks His Honour Judge Maidment stated that stated that despite the stentatious display of wealth by his co-offender Mohammed Oueida, it was difficult to assess which of the pair was the more senior in the hierarchy of their organised drug trafficking syndicate.
It is however of notable significance that Oueida received the much lighter sentence of 8 years and 6 months jail, with a minimum term of 5 years and 6 months, and that the Judge found that Weightman was also involved in significant drug trafficking activities outside of his commercial dealings with Oueida.
His Honour refused to accept Weightman’s belated declaration of remorse or take it into account when sentencing, declaring it impossible to believe in light of the false and utterly hopeless defence that he had put forward during the trial.
Almost a year to the day later Rod Weightman pleaded guilty to two further charges of possession of a drug of dependence, one charge of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm, and two charges of trafficking a drug of dependence, relating to his arrest in January 2013, whilst on bail.
He also pleaded guilty to a Commonwealth charge of conspiracy to counterfeit a large quantity of $50 notes.
The judge stated that he never asked any more why an accused person had the gun in the particular circumstances that Weightman was found in possession of the Colt .45, because he never believed the answer, and added that the fact of the matter was that these sorts of weapons in this sort of drug business were very dangerous indeed.
In relation to the drug trafficking matters the Judge noted that it was trite to say that Weightman done it before, commenting that one could only hope that he did not do it again.
These were His Honour’s sentencing remarks:
You are, it seems to me, clearly an intelligent man. How you got yourself into all this over the long term is anybody’s guess, but I think it is fairly simple to say, Mr Weightman, that over the last five or six years, you have had some very, very dangerous playmates.
You are still in your 40s, so you are not going to be an old man when you are released, and I think the prospects of you rehabilitating, whilst I would agree with the Crown have to be guarded, they certainly have not been extinguished, and obviously if you can rehabilitate the risk of you reoffending would be very low indeed.
It is hard to say what the sentence would have been but for the very significant sentence, to say the least, that you are currently undergoing, and I think the simplest bit is that I will just sentence you on each of these and see what the future holds.
Weightman received a complexity of cumulative and concurrent sentences for these additional crimes, but to simplify the matter for the authorities he ordered that he serve a minimum period of 6 years imprisonment commencing from the 18th of July 2014.
Rod Weightman was released early and is now a free man, but will he serve at least six years on parole.
Last week the Victorian Racing Tribunal sentenced Weightman to a period of 7 years disqualification on outstanding racing rule breach charges of supplying EPO to the disgraced West Australian drug cheat Clinton Hall, the son of Gary Snr and brother of Gary Jr, both inductees to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame.
These offences were committed just 2 years after Robert Asquith and John Seaton died.
The disqualification ended immediately, and Rod Weightman is now free to work with registered racehorses, although not in a training capacity.
The decision was and is, in my view, a disgrace.
Integrity Matters the Victorian harness racing authorities say.
Words are cheap, real cheap.
Actions speak a whole lot louder.
A media release about Weightman’s disqualification contains a link to the decision of the Victorian Racing Tribunal.
It says it all really.
I rest my case.
Editor’s note – There are probably spelling and grammatical mistakes strewn throughout this 4 part series. I feel so disillusioned with harness racing after writing these three stories that I can’t even be bothered proof reading or editing it. Let the errors remain. It fits the story perfectly.
My wife Maggie’s sister was addicted to Ice. She lost her home, she lost her husband, she lost her kids for a year, and she very nearly lost her life. All to these fucking wicked, evil foul-tasting little white rocks and a glass pipe. And don’t excuse my language, because its deliberate and its apt.
I missed my daughter’s 21st birthday because I was taking my sister-in-law to New Zealand to get her away from the Weightman’s of the world, and to put her in rehab. It worked thanked God, she was one of the 2 in 20 and now she’s clean. But people have died from this terrible, terrible drug, even little kids, and people are dying still to this day.
It’s people like Rod Weightman who are responsible for all this grief and pain.
He doesn’t care about all the misery he created purely for commercial gain, and he doesn’t care about our great sport. Weightman is a multiple a repeat offender, a leopard whose purrs gently when he wants something, but whose spots will never change. He should have been warned off for life, and it makes me feel ill that he wasn’t.
Where’s the money Rod? Your Ferrari driving crim mate Mohammed Oueida had tens of millions, and you were his boss so you must have had millions more. Show us all you mean it when you say sorry. Tell us where it is. Hand it over to a cash strapped rehab clinic. Buy them a few more beds so they can save some lives. C’mon mate, prove your remorse is real, not just your usual put on. It’s all black cash anyway. Show us the money.
Fat fucking chance. Leopards. Spots. Rod Weightman. Raaah!
Harness racing has been despoiled by what the Victorian Harness Racing integrity officials have done here, and now we are all stained and dirty. How could the people in charge of the keeping the game do this to us?
A pox on all their houses.
I’m sure Rod Weighman’s got plenty they can live in when they theirs all fall down.
That’s the real question.
I can’t answer it.
You can read the Victorian Court decisions on which these stories are based by clicking on the links below
You can read about the Blue Magic affair here
VICTORIAN horse racing faces fresh turmoil as its new corruption watchdog is accused of having accepted tens of thousands of dollars from a convicted drug trafficker to do private detective work.
The State Opposition alleged in Parliament that former detective Dayle Brown, chosen last week to head Racing Victoria’s integrity services unit, also illegally misused his police ID badge while working for crime figure Paul Pavlovski in the mid-1990s.
Opposition racing spokesman Denis Napthine called for a judicial investigation into the allegations, saying Mr Brown’s appointment revealed incompetence by Racing Victoria and negligence by Racing Minister Rob Hulls.
Dr Napthine said Mr Hulls should order an inquiry into allegations that Mr Brown and a former colleague, while serving Victoria Police officers, “accepted $30,000 from convicted drug dealer Paul Pavlovski to undertake private investigations”.
He said Mr Brown’s work for Pavlovski had involved the new head of racing’s integrity services unit “illegally misusing his Victoria Police identification in South Australia”.
The Age reported on Saturday that Pavlovski, a hotelier and strip-club owner, had paid Mr Brown and another detective to fly to South Australia in September 1994 to track down his wife and children. Although not on police business, they identified themselves as police officers.
Mr Brown’s involvement was uncovered by the National Crime Authority, which was tracking Pavlovski for drug trafficking offences for which he was later convicted.
Mr Brown has told The Age the trip to South Australia was an “error of judgement” that he had disclosed to Racing Victoria before his appointment.
He said he had not spoken to Pavlovski, a former friend, since December 1994.
Dr Napthine last night said Mr Brown should never have been appointed as head of the integrity services unit.
“This is a sorry saga of incompetence by Racing Victoria, compounded by negligence and mismanagement by Racing Minister Hulls,” he said.
Dr Napthine yesterday wrote to acting Judge Gordon Lewis, who is inquiring into the structure of the unit, asking him to broaden his investigation to examine the appointment.
In Parliament, Mr Hulls did not specifically endorse Mr Brown, but said he had complete confidence in Racing Victoria. “I have absolute faith in the board of Racing Victoria, and any decisions they make in relation to employment is entirely a matter for them.”
Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Association president David Moodie called for the sacking of Racing Victoria chairman Michael Duffy over Mr Brown’s appointment and several other decisions.
Mr Moodie said industry leaders agreed that Racing Victoria had failed the industry and needed a shake-up.
Questions about Mr Brown’s appointment come after The Age reported this month on links between racing figures and alleged organised crime boss Tony Mokbel. Former Racing Victoria chief executive Stephen Allanson resigned in disgrace this year over a betting scandal.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you see something better again.
Much, much worse.
It’s race 5 at Redcliffe tonight.
Four McMullen siblings are driving in the race, and so is the awesome foursome’s cousin Nathan Dawson.
To make what happens easier to understand, we will disregard the horse’s names and refer to them by drover name instead, and after this quick bit of background information we will call the clan members by their first names and leave out the last.
Taleah McMullen is on the 1.
Narissa McMullen is on the 2.
Nathan Dawson is on the 3.
Pete McMullen is on the 4.
Danielle McMcullen is on the 7.
Taleah flies out on the 1.
Nathan sizzles out with her and they go hell for leather early.
Narissa drives the 2 out hard.
Danielle – who is on Taleah’s back – does so for a couple of strides too, but then grabs hold.
Nathan goes onto her back.
Narissa goes onto his.
Danielle pops off the fence into the 1-1.
Pete does nothing and eases out to last, 1 off the fence.
Now, what is vital to know here is that Taleah has never run faster than 1.58.3 in her life, and given that was years ago and she is now rising 9, it is very unlikely that she ever will.
Nathan’s fastest time at Redcliffe is 1.58.2.
Narissa’s is 1.58.1.
Danielle’s is 1.59.0
What this means is that if Taleah out in front sets a pace that leads to a time of 1.58.0 or faster, none of the four’s horses can win.
Pete on the other hand has gone 1.55.0, so if they go faster than the magic 1.58.0 he is a near certainty.
Taleah goes like yesterday’s pay all the way, and they run 1.57.0.
You don’t need me to tell you what that means do you?
It’s a boatie for Pete.
He wins, but not without a little help along the way.
Nathan breaks into a wild gallop for no seeming reason at all in the last lap, other than he has driven it up and into the back of Taleah.
He drops way, way out, and is gone.
This gives Narissa the chance to pop off the fence and she does, forcing the horse on her outside to go three wide.
Pete pulls straight out onto its back, and suddenly has a sweet cart into the race.
But the horse he is following can’t find any speed to go forward.
So what does Narissa do?
Why, she steer inwards and drops in back to the fence behind the horse that was in the death seat, and is now going backwards.
Sisterly love some call it, but not me.
I call it cheating.
An even stranger event occurs next.
Instead of hooking around the slow one in front of him and sweeping four wide around the field, Pete goes inside and up the middle.
Right into a traffic jam.
That’s just the entree.
Here is the main dish.
Danielle directly in front of her brother goes back to fence.
A second before she did it, Pete was stuck in a jam.
Now all he sees in front of him is clear air.
The McMullen’s have fixed the race.
Two and a half years ago Trista Dixon copped a twelve month disqualification for doing a very similar thing to let her husband Grant through, but her actions were a spur of the moment decision made in the heat of a battle.
This was a deliberate set up from the get go, and all of the McMullen’s were in on it.
This was match fixing.
Match fixing is a crime.
You can see why the McMullen clan are all over social media saying terrible things about me to discredit me can’t you?
I wonder if they will regret in the near future that their impetuousness has driven me to break the habit of a lifetime?
I backed Nathan’s horse, and am very upset that I was defrauded out of my money.
I am even more upset that the sport I love has been despoiled my this despicable crew.
I love harness racing, and passionately hate it being corrupted by cheats.
So guess what I am going to do the second after I publish this story?
Over to Commissioner.
Bob’s your uncle!
The boxers were in a small room talking to Howard Cosell of WABC-TV, jawing at one another in the way fighters often did while trying to hype a bout, puffing their chests and talking trash. Seemingly out of nowhere, Ali complained: “Why do you call me Clay? You know my right name is Muhammad Ali.”
Terrell didn’t understand why Ali was upset. He answered plainly. “I met you as Cassius Clay. I’ll leave you as Cassius Clay.”
“It takes an Uncle Tom Negro to keep calling me by my slave name,” Ali said. “You’re an Uncle
Ali vowed to punish Terrell for disrespecting his faith and his new name. “I want to torture him,” Ali said. “A clean knockout is too good for him.”
(In the fight) He attacked with everything he had in the seventh round, throwing two dozen jabs and even more power punches. Ali spun Terrell around, shoved him into the ropes, and unleashed a hurricane gust of punches, lifting both feet off the mat to put all his body weight into the shots.
Terrell’s legs wobbled and both eyes bled, but the challenger wouldn’t fall. Terrell gathered himself and fought back, hammering hard on Ali’s head in the final minute of the round. It happened again in subsequent rounds. Every time Ali took control, Terrell fought back.
In the eighth, Ali taunted him, yelling, “What’s my name?” followed by a whistling left-right combination that made the question rhetorical. “What’s my name?” he spat again through his mouthpiece. Terrell closed his eyes as the next combination flew.
When the bell clanged to end the round, Ali did not go to his corner. Instead, he stepped close to Terrell and leaned in. His eyes went wide. The tendons in his neck strained. His arms fell to his sides. He barked it this time so it didn’t sound like a question: “What’s my name!”
What’s my name?
What’s my name?