Do we all remember the cries by some in the racing fraternity to #BeKind when Gordon Elliott received a scolding for his actions in February?
Plenty defended him and how he shouldn't lose his right to work. If my memory serves me right wasn't there even a Go Fund Me page or a petition set up for him?
It's a shame he didn't use the words "Be Kind" when shipping off horses (some of whom showed no signs of injury) to a dealer after allegedly misleading his owners.
I'm fully aware he isn't the only trainer to have done this (Gavin Cromwell's lack of a response to Panorama's documentary is telling in itself) nor am I forgoing the major part played by the abattoir (which needs to be closed as soon as possible) and the abhorrent actions of others but already I see plenty of people within racing either shifting the blame entirely away from the likes of Elliott or burying their heads in the sand all together.
How many times does racing have to be marred with scandal before racing as a whole actually holds their hands up and says. "Yes we are accountable, we are behind the times and yes we need to make major changes." as opposed to constantly making excuses and pointing the finger elsewhere.
There are plenty within the racing media not wanting to lay blame at those at the top (trainers) for fear of losing future interviews or opportunities. This ensures justice and accountability doesn't happen and in fact makes it even worse as we are seen in the press to brush it under the carpet.
The documentary pointed out that 4,000 race horses were euthanized in 2 years. This equates to 5.5 per day! Whatever way you dress it up the time to "Be Kind" no longer exists. No matter how powerful they may be we need to stop holding these people within racing as untouchable Gods and continuing to make excuses for them. I understand racing is a business and some horses sadly have to be put to rest but to see some powerful figures preach love, kindness and compassion only to then treat these beautiful animals as disposable stinks of hypocrisy. For context, Michael O'Leary since 2015 has owned 500 horses of which 86 have died. Not all on course. That's a ridiculously high percentage and must be some horrible record? Or are people going to come out with the same old rhetoric and say "Well he pumps lots of money into the sport." as another ready made excuse for us to allow things to go unquestioned?
I fear the aforementioned God like character of Gordon Elliott will be welcomed back with open arms once his ban has come to an end despite last nights further black mark on the sport. Once he has his first big winner he'll be heralded as a hero who's overcome adversity and anyone who dares remind us of his past will be silenced and once again told to "Be Kind". This is a man who has flagrantly ignored his ban for the most part and has publicly stated he was going to be on-hand to support Denise Foster with the running of the yard. Let's be honest the only thing that's changed is the name above the door. But we have to make figures who do wrong, no matter at what level of our amazing sport, stop feeling as if they're untouchable.
The days of using the word "tradition" as a way to justify avoiding change should be gone. We must also put pay to those within racings close-bred inner circle dismissing those outside of it. Having an attitude that those who don't hack up and muck out every day as insignificant and lacking knowledge or understanding of how their world works. It's an unacceptable attitude for this modern, social media filled day and age where photo's and video's can readily expose their world at the drop of a hat. Transparency is now the key because exposing behind the curtain has gotten a lot easier.
So many people within racing sadly have a pompous attitude that unless you work in the industry your opinion isn't valid. This is whilst on the other hand the desperate clammer to attract fresh blood and interest to the sport. You simply cannot have it both ways because scandal after scandal that shocks the paying public will continue to put a nail in the coffin of racing.
I also understand many people point towards owners and it being their responsibility. I too have pinpointed Michael O'Leary above but you have to question how many of these decisions are made by owners? You would be safe in your assumption that most race horse owners do not come from an agricultural background and their knowledge and understanding of horses is going to be far less than that of a trainer. When it comes to what happens to a horse on retirement and a decision to end a horses life it is more than likely left to the person who knows and understands horses the most.
The sport, especially its insistence on over breeding could be deemed a cruel act in itself. If we know we cannot accomodate a horse's care and well-being upon retirement and yet we continue to breed even greater numbers we only have ourselves to blame and furthers the notion that race horses that we are meant to love are just seen by some as disposable commodities to be terminated at will when they no longer serve a purpose.
I understand I may well receive a plethora of hate but ignoring it, justifying it and making excuses will no longer work.
Things need to change and they need to change now.
However just like the numerous jockeys caught with drugs who still ride and the trainers caught giving instructions not to try and accepting bribes still training what serious hope do we have that anything will be different?
Whilst we wait for it all to blow over like we always do I'm sure I will be lambasted but you must remember folks #BeKind written by Rory Paddock