It would not be a wild exaggeration to say that 20-20 Public Relations knows a thing or two about the marketing of the horseracing industry. We started life back in 1992 as The Market Racing Agency, not a catchy name – but then it did exactly what it said on the tin. Since then, we have worked with racecourses, caterers, TV companies, bookmakers and Tote, regulatory bodies, owners, trainers, charities and trade bodies.
In many cases, the marks we made remain in use and are writ large.
I can therefore say, with little chance of reasoned contradiction, that Gordon Elliott’s behaviour is so shocking and deplorable, that if there is a legal means to remove him entirely from the sport, it should be taken – immediately. For the good of the sport.
The horseracing industry is already facing antipathy from several demographics. There is specific negativity on the gaming front from various well-organised bodies representing addiction, mental health, social impact and domestic violence. There is a call for an outright ban on all National Hunt racing on the grounds of cruelty. Those who believe in the ethical treatment of all animals call for a ban on Flat racing on the grounds of their own agenda. The Pandemic has also impacted the racing industry which is facing an exit by Owners, while simultaneously facing a looming financial black hole, as the Levy Board has expended the bulk of its reserves on racecourse support.
If the BHA were still clients of mine, I might be suggesting to AnnaMarie Phelps, the Olympian chair of the BHA, that she get on the phone to the British Racecourses, Trainers and Owners Associations. Then – if I were her – I might be asking them to provide, by Friday, a Code of Conduct, regarding the acceptable and respectful treatment of all horse deaths within all environments controlled or used by the yard, course, stud or other such establishments that are either licenced by, or receive funding from, the BHA. That Code of Conduct would have to include severe penalties such as the immediate suspension of such licencing and funding, for a minimum period.
That would distance the UK from Ireland. It would focus minds on the employment and incomes provided through their relationship with the racehorse. It might also serve to remind everyone of the debt we owe the racehorse every day, for our well-being on so many levels.
It shouldn’t have been necessary, but for two stupid, irresponsible people, both connected to each other, who considered their actions as normal.