INTERNATIONALLY acclaimed singer-songwriter Shane Howard has launched a scathing attack on Melbourne Cup winning trainer Darren Weir.
Howard has claimed Weir has divided the community through his part in the debate over the use of local beaches for horse training.
“Darren Weir deserves to be mentioned and singled out for what he has done to this community, dividing it, coming in here over the past 12 to 18 months,” Howard said. “I don’t care how many Melbourne Cups he wins, Bart Cummings won a string of them and he never went on the beaches, it’s not necessary. I have no issue with Darren Weir and his business, I wish him luck, I am not anti-racehorse.
“I have a problem with a commercial enterprise operating on public land where our beach and coastal reserve is being sacrificed.”
When contacted by The Standard on Monday, Weir declined to comment. However, he has previously stated he may be forced to pack up his Warrnambool operations and move on if he is unable to use the sand dunes at local beaches.
Weir trained 2015 Melbourne Cup winner Prince of Penzance, crediting having access to south-west beaches to train his horses on as a big part of that success.
Environmental groups have been actively campaigning to ban large scale horse training on beaches from Warrnambool, Killarney and Port Fairy.
Howard is a member of the Belfast Coastal Reserve Action Group (BCRAG). The group held a community day at Killarney Beach on Saturday which attracted an audience of 120.
Minister for Racing Martin Pakula jumped to the defence of Weir. "I don't see it as a negative that Darren Weir runs a commercial enterprise if his success means that the racing industry delivers more jobs and more economic activity to the south-west," Mr Pakula said.
"The resolution of this issue is going to require a bit of give and take from all sides.
“The Warrnambool Racing Club and trainers understand that and are working with government and council in that spirit. I'd hope that all sides of this debate are prepared to adopt that same approach."
BCRAG has written to Moyne Shire Council, objecting to any proposal to allow commercial horse training on Killarney Beach. The letter mentions carparks at the beach being “fouled by (horse) manure and urine”.