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'I felt embarrassed for my sport. An appalling picture' - Walsh reacts to Elliott photo

Ruby Walsh also described the incident as ‘indefensible.’

Ruby Walsh has responded to the controversial incident.
Ruby Walsh has responded to the controversial incident.
Image: Photojoiner/Inpho

RUBY WALSH HAS described the photo of Gordon Elliott sitting on a dead horse as “appalling” and says the controversy has left him feeling “embarrassed” for his sport.

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has launched an investigation into the image featuring the Grand National-winning trainer with the dead animal on the gallops, which began circulating on social media over the weekend.

Elliott, who confirmed the image was genuine in a statement last night, said he “cannot apologise enough” for the photo and stressed that the welfare of all of his horses is “paramount” to his success.

Gigginstown House stud and Ryanair owner Michael O’Leary has expressed his support for Elliott, while the British Horseracing Authority says they will not allow the Meath native to saddle runners in Britain while the Irish authorities investigate the image.

“I thought I knew it [horse racing] inside out,” Walsh said when speaking about the controversy on 2FM’s Game On. “A picture paints a thousand words, but that only painted one and that’s indefensible”.

“When I looked at it I felt angry, I felt embarrassed for my sport and I felt very sad myself.

“I was always taught that the duty of care to the animal is as much when it is dead as it is when it is alive and that is the way I was taught to conduct myself and it’s the way I assumed most people within my sport would conduct themselves.

“The embarrassing part to think is that people could think that we can all be tarred with the same brush. That is not the way, in any of the establishments I’ve worked in, that things are done.

“It’s an appalling picture, and as I said at the beginning, it’s not defensible.”

Remarking on the long-term consequences of this controversy for Elliott and the wider horse racing community, Walsh said:

“It will be a very, very long road”. 

“It has huge ramifications for the sport and I feel embarrassed for the sport and I felt very sad when I watched that picture that the due care and respect wasn’t given to that horse.”

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Walsh added:

“I think everybody that is licenced by the IHRB is no different to anybody wearing a jersey of any GAA club or rugby club. You are representing those clubs and as a licenced trainer, jockey or an employee of a stable yard, you are representing the horse racing industry and the onus is on you to act in a manner that is good for the image of racing.” 

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