Last year we saw and American flat racing trainer dump a horse in a West Virginia landfill. Now, we see a British jump racing trainer sit on a horse who just died under his care. Where is the respect?
Both are stories that were done and done. However, I have a few questions and comments. Not just for myself but also for all of those on social media who also have the same.
First off, what the heck? We call them horsemen. That title is one of honor and connotes a respect for the animals in their care. 95% of horsemen and horsewomen truly honor their title. The other 5% are under investigation by the FBI (we hope), at least in the United States.
Second, that photo is two years old so why are we seeing it now? Gordon Elliot is now contrite but tell me this. Where was his contrition in 2019? What about the person who took the photo? How could they take a photo of such a heinous and disrespectful scene? It was nauseating.
The horse, named Morgan, was owned by Gigginstown House Stud, Elliot’s biggest client. And they are comfortable staying with this yard. You have to wonder if they had not had such success in the past two years and the photo had not been revealed when the incident originally occurred would they be so quick to have such loyalty? Isn’t their true loyalty as horsemen to their horse? Their dead horse?
The British Horseracing Authority banned Elliot but will allow his stable to race under basically paper trainers. He gets to take his photo and ignore it too. Where is the justice for the horse?
Horses are not just commodities. They are living and breathing beings we breed and bring into this world. They deserve 100%. They don’t deserve Gordon Elliots.
This was Elliot’s statement:
“I would like to address the speculation and rumours that have been rife since an old photo of me began circulating on social media yesterday afternoon.
“Firstly, I apologise profoundly for any offence that this photo has caused and can categorically state that the welfare of each and every horse under my care is paramount and has been central to the success that we have enjoyed here at Cullentra.
“The photo in question was taken some time ago and occurred after a horse had died of an apparent heart attack on the gallops. I appreciate that an initial viewing of this photo suggests it is a callous and staged photo but nothing could be further from the truth.
“At what was a sad time, which it is when any horse under my care passes away, my initial reaction was to get the body removed from where it was positioned.
“I was standing over the horse waiting to help with the removal of the body, in the course of which, to my memory I received a call and, without thinking, I sat down to take it. Hearing a shout from one of my team, I gestured to wait until I was finished.
“Such background information may seem trivial at this time and will not allay the concerns of many people both within and outside the world of horse racing.
“However, I feel it is important to provide people with some context surrounding this photo. To the racing community, to anyone who has worked with and loves horses and to anyone offended by this image I cannot apologise enough.
“Horse welfare and the care and attention to detail involved is absolutely at the core of everything we do here and both myself and all of my team pride ourselves on those standards.
“Again I apologise for any offence caused and ask people to consider this statement as opposed to the various falsehoods and misinformation being circulated on social media.
“At this time I would like to stress that I continue to extend my full cooperation with the ongoing IHRB investigation.”
Maribeth Kalinich, Editor
Photo: Gordon Elliot