As sporting communities go, none close ranks quite like horse racing.
Misuse of the whip? Nothing to see here.
One of the most powerful owners implicated in an alleged kidnapping? Move along now.
Jockey (one who rides for Gordon Elliott, incidentally) punches his mount in the head? Don’t bother yourself with things you know nothing about.
Horse racing, generally, likes to keep it all in-house.
But there can be no keeping this in-house. When animal rights campaigners rail against fatalities on the course – whether it be at Cheltenham, Aintree or any course up and down the country – they are told horses are treated like princes and princesses at home.
They are treated in the same way as or better than humans, treated like part of the family, apparently.
Which is probably true, in general.
But sorry, the last time I checked, no-one takes a pew on one of the family if he or she drops dead of a heart attack.
No-one poses astride his or her body like some big-game trophy hunter and grins and makes jokey signs for the camera.
I love National Hunt racing and when those involved in a great sport are queuing up to say Elliott’s abhorrent stunt is so out-of-keeping with the way trainers treat their animals, they are entirely believable.
But that is why the punishment of Elliott has to be severe.
The entire Cheltenham Festival – not to mention Aintree’s Grand National meeting – will be tainted if Elliott is still allowed to head up his large entourage.
What will big Gordon do if one of his charges suffers a fatal fall at the last? Presumably, he would have the grace to wait for the screens to go up before having a seat on the carcass and taking a telephone call?
It is inconceivable Elliott can be allowed through the gates of Cheltenham in any capacity, never mind as someone with every chance of becoming the leading trainer at the 2021 Festival.
After grossly offending every decent person’s sensibilities, Elliott’s pathetic explanation of the incident only served to insult the intelligence.
That is some double.
Elliott’s principal owner, Michael O’Leary, is standing by him. O’Leary is the owner of Ryanair, who once said he did not ‘give a s*** if no-one’ liked him.
Good, because even fewer will like him and Elliott if they rock up in harness at a big race meeting again.
Elliott should be allowed to rehabilitate himself and resume his professional career after serving his punishment.
But that punishment should mean he is not seen near a racecourse for a very long time.