PETER SCUDAMORE: Gordon Elliott’s grotesque image is an insult and indefensible… people will never forgive him and it will be much harder to convince the public about high welfare standards in the sport
- A photo of Gordon Elliott on a dead horse emerged on social media on Saturday
- It is an insult to people who work hard to maintain high equine welfare standards
- The trainer offered an explanation but many will see it as a cock-and-bull story
- Elliott should be made to devote both his time and resources to an equine charity
A groom called Vicky who works at our stable invariably comes in half-an-hour early and stays long after she is entitled to go home. She goes above and beyond what she is paid to do because she cares for the racehorses she works with every day.
Around stables everywhere, in Britain and Ireland, trainers will have their own Vickys who lavish attention and love on the horses they look after. They do not do the job for money but for all the right reasons.
That was what made me both angry and saddened by the Gordon Elliott picture. It is an insult to all the people who work so hard and maintain the highest equine welfare standards they can in the sport.
Elliott’s photo is an insult to the people who work to maintain high equine welfare standards
Convincing the general public that is the case after the storm caused by this brutal image will be a lot harder now.
That has been made worse by an explanation which many will see as a cock-and-bull story.
My father was a Grand National-winning jockey before he trained and my two sons work in the sport. I was brought up to treat horses with dignity.
Equine fatalities occur in racing, both on the course and on the training grounds. It is a fact of life, just as it is that somewhere in Britain today there will be horses or ponies which probably suffer fatal, self-inflicted injuries in a paddock somewhere.
Our job is to minimise the risks as much as possible. I genuinely get upset when a horse is killed and I am not so callous as to not question why we are involved in the sport at times.
That has been made worse by an explanation which many will just see as a cock-and-bull story
To this day, I still remember the first dead racehorse I saw as a young boy when my father took me to Ascot races.
It left an indelible mark on me. You can never take equine welfare lightly.
Mixed up with all my emotions yesterday was a massive sense of frustration.
I can say all these things about horseracing and defend the staff that put their heart and soul into it but how can I expect someone outside the walls of the sport to believe me when they have a grotesque image of someone sitting on a once graceful animal being reduced to furniture? I fear some will have had their mind made up about the sport for good by the dreadful situation.
It makes me feel like a fool and incapable of defending the sport I love.
It sounds stupid but when I went round our horses yesterday morning I apologised to them. We ask them to do things in our sport, things which have an unavoidable risk attached, and you must respect them in return.
Elliot should be made to devote time and resources to an equine charity following the incident
When I was still riding, I would sometimes go up to the horse and say: ‘You look after me and I will look after you.’ That is how it should be.
I am confident that almost everyone in the sport maintains the highest standards because I see it with my own eyes, but when the wider world see the Elliott picture, why would they believe me? It is indefensible, undermining and everyone feels let down.
I have been asked what penalty Elliott should be handed. There will be one and this will affect his career. Some people will never forgive him but I don’t want to see him crucified.
He did something crass and stupid. Maybe he should be made to devote time and resources to an equine charity.