The chorus of a hit song by Jilted John from 1978 goes, ‘Gordon is a moron he is a moron’.
Well, this week Gordon Elliott has been called everything with the exception of a moron, at least we haven’t seen that anywhere in the millions of words that have appeared on both social and at times unsocial media.
First things first the picture of the Summerhill trainer sitting, smiling, on a dead horse is in appallingly bad taste, there is no argument about that, Elliott himself has described his actions as indefensible, and that’s 100% correct.
However bad and all as the optics are, and ridiculous and all as the cover story from Cullentra was, it’s not exactly the natural thing to do to sit astride a dead horse to take a phone call, if the trainer decided he needed to sit on the deceased animal he could have done just that, not sat astride it, the outcry since has been more than a little OTT.
The 43 year old, who has constructed a racking empire from scratch, must be feeling lucky that hanging was abolished years ago, because had it not been there would be those among us who would strongly support a one way, (There is only a one way, you don’t get a return ticket!), trip to the gallows.
Let’s cut to the (steeple) chase here, a man who should know better, an awful lot better, did something stupid which he will regret forever and a few days, that is longer than forever and a day!
Is there anyone reading this who has not woken up the next morning and thought ‘I hope what I did last night never becomes known.’
In short most of us have done something stupid and when it boils down to it that is what Elliott did.
Does he deserve a punishment?
As the racing authorities are bringing the catch all charge of bringing the sport into disrepute against him, and on the very wording of that then yes of course he does.
However what he does not deserve is an excessive punishment, suggestions of a lifetime ban from the sport are ludicrous, and probably wouldn’t survive a court challenge under employment laws, the man has a right to earn a living at what he does best.
Elliott didn’t injure the horse, there is no suggestion he was in any way responsible for its death, and if memory serves us right he has not a track record of either animal cruelty or using performance enhancing drugs on his charges.
Millionaire owners like Gigginstown and Cheveley Park would long since had withdrawn their animals from Elliott’s yard if there was any suggestion of neglect.
Interestingly Michael O’Leary of Gigginstown, someone not renowned for being a soft touch, has decided to stand by Elliott and don’t forget it was a Gigginstown horse he was pictured sitting on.
What hasn’t emerged yet is who leaked the photo.
There have been, as there always are around a story like this, various names put forward and everyone ‘knows’ what they are saying is right, they got it from the horse’s mouth, well this time they didn’t the horse is dead and even Mr Ed lost his voice when that happened.
Social media watchers will be aware that for the last month or so there has been a drip feed of stories, innuendo, and downright gossip, about things Elliott did, all of which led up to this incident.
In actual fact the only malicious act in this whole sorry saga was performed by whoever leaked the image, that wasn’t stupid, that was deliberate, and undoubtedly Elliott would have the financial resources to hire an IT whizz kid to ascertain who was behind whatever account posted the image.
And so to the punishment.
The trainer could be warned off, which means he cannot be seen in or around anything to do with racing, stables, racecourses anywhere like that, that would be using a rather large sledgehammer to crack an insignificant nut.
A suspension seems inevitable, and to use an analogy, if someone is found guilty in a court of law for a motoring offence they are often banned from driving for a set period for basically an act of stupidity, so a six to twelve month ban here is probably equally appropriate.
Gordon Elliott made a mistake, a stupid, silly and indeed horrific mistake, but that’s all he done.
Whoever leaked the photograph did so deliberately.
Make no mistake about that.