We don't need to cover old ground, we know what Gordon did, we know his punishment and we know that his ban is set to come to an end. Lets just say I think he was an absolute numpty for what he did. If the punishment was big enough or fitting I will leave you to make your own decision.
Also it would be foolish on my part not to mention the recent Panorama documentary which caused a mammoth stir in the racing and wider community. I will however leave readers to form their own opinion on what we saw from the BBC.
Before I continue to write I want to clarify from the outset that this article isn't another lambasting of Gordon's actions and is however a look at the abundance of media coverage he’s getting at the moment, especially concerning his recent interview in the Racing Post.
Of course such a powerful and well known trainer returning to action after such a scandal will merit the appropriate coverage it deserves but the angle in which a large proportion of the racing media seem to be taking seems baffling, odd and potentially damaging to the sport. When Gordon Elliott received his ban I was personally vocal on social media that I feared once he returned and had his first major winner he’d likely be heralded in the press as a hero who has overcome great adversity and struggle.
Sadly this latest interview with the Racing Post seems to have proven my initial fears to be true with it leaving a bad taste in the mouth.
The article focuses heavily on Gordon losing big named horses from his stables (Envoi Allen, Sir Gerhard, etc) and how he is up all night feeling devastated that these fantastic horses are no longer taking up residence at his yard. A lot more column inches seemed to be dedicated to this heartbreak for Gordon as opposed to focusing on what got him his ban in the first place.
The piece seems to have a clear and obvious aim to try and garner masses of sympathy for Gordon and how he should be welcomed back with great fanfare and open arms.
I hate to compare the two but Bob Champion overcoming cancer and riding Aldiniti to Grand National success is a true comeback story and tale of overcoming adversity in the world of racing. Any perceived "misfortune" that has been bestowed upon Elliott's head is through nothing but his own doing. It wasn't a freak accident, it wasn't an unfortunate health scare and it wasn't at the hands of another that sat Gordon firmly on the sidelines. As such does he deserve the level of sympathy he seems to be receiving?
Without a doubt he has a right to come back and continue his career but I’d have urged him to quietly do so as best as he can. Why he needed to do this interview I don’t know, especially if the hard questions weren’t going to be asked.
If I were to advise Gordon in any way he really should aim to earn the public’s trust and respect again and show an abundance of humility, sadly this seemed absent in his interview. He certainly shouldn’t be trying to curry favour through sympathy that he doesn’t deserve. To be fair to Gordon that might not be his fault, after all in we don't know what parts of the interview were left on the cutting room floor. However the Racing Post seems horribly out of touch by trying to push this tale of sorrow for poor poor Gordon. Even in the Racing Post's social media output they (prior to publishing the article) focused solely on quotes surrounding Elliott losing horses.
What the paper also fails to acknowledge is how Gordon has still been actively working with the stable. He’s been proven to have spoken to jockeys in regards to instructions and has also been using his personal social media to help promote job vacancies for the yard. Surely a 6 month ban means just that? Sadly only those naive enough or a blind follower of the fantastic trainer thought that the name change meant Gordon would actually stringently follow his ban to the letter. As the racing equivalent of Cockney Rhyming Slang would probably dictate… “Denise Foster” = “Gordon Imposter”
I don’t think the man needs to be crucified continuously over his foolish actions which, in all fairness to Elliott did not cause any harm, cruelty or neglect to the animals in his care but this sympathy card route the media seems desperate to employ could cause far more harm than good to the general public and racing fans view of the sport. To try and quickly change the public perception of a man from villain to hero seems to show a disdain for their readers and treat them as fools who would easily forgive and forget. To then try so lifelessly to ask him the questions people really want answers to also seems poor, negligent and far from in the best interests of the sport. In fact it serves only to ensure the Racing Post continue to get the "hot scoops" they will need from Cullentra House in the future. What I find even more distasteful is the paper we hope would provide a voice for the entire racing community put this article behind a £34.99 a month pay wall or in a paper that continues to be hiked up in price.
The irony in all of this is that Gordon’s ban is scheduled to end around National Racehorse Week. “A nationwide annual celebration of the racehorse and a chance to see first-hand the love, care and attention that goes into looking after them.” (from national racehorseweek.uk) Gordon shouldn't be chastised forever but he shouldn't be lavished with the sympathy that the media seems so keen for us racing fans to award him.
written by Rory Paddock
LISTEN TO RORY, MATT AND CHRIS DISCUSS THIS GORDON ELLIOTT INTERVIEW IN GREATER DETAIL ON THE EPISODE 4 OF OUR TURF TALK PODCAST BELOW