GORDON ELLIOT: Joe Tuffin talks us through a bad week for racing
Whichever way you look at it, the racing world cannot hide from the Gordon Elliot saga.
From the moment the photo of Elliot was leaked online, the sport received a barrage of unwanted headlines as its reputation was dragged through the mud.
Elliot was subsequently banned for 12 months by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) with six months of that ban suspended.
As the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National approach, racing will remain well in the spotlight as the jumps season draws to a close.
We spoke with HorseRacing.net journalist Joe Tuffin to discuss the fallout from one of the most damaging incidents the sport has ever seen.
After the photo surfaced many of the sports leading lights were quick to express their shock at the situation and Joe was no different:
“We hold high standards in the world of horse racing for the care of our equine stars and it’s something that we really pride ourselves on.
“To see a trainer of his ilk and someone of the calibre of Gordon Elliot do something like that, it was really disappointing.”
Before Elliot was sanctioned by the IHRB, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) banned him from having runners at the Cheltenham Festival, although once his suspension was revealed, the BHA released a statement supporting the sanction:
“I was expecting more to be honest with you.
“The story put the sport on the front page of the newspapers for all the wrong reasons and racing has a history of struggling with its PR image.
“When it first came out I thought it would maybe be upwards of a two year ban so that we could show that this isn’t what we are about.”
With the decision now set in stone, we asked Joe where he thinks the sport can go now as it attempts to move beyond the saga:
“Racing has had time to look at itself and decide how this was allowed to happen in the first place.
“From now our focus has to be driving home what we do, how we do it and how proud we are that we do it, and that we care for these equine stars with nothing but love.
“If you go to any yard across the country you will see that day in and day out the lads and lasses treat these horses with respect and have pride in the way they do so.”
Whilst this story has almost certainly damaged the reputation of racing, there remains a determination from those within the sport to improve the public's understanding of the care horses receive.
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