A star jockey prompted outrage yesterday by playing down the death of a horse during a big race.Now as to whether horse racing is a cruel sport or not, I simply do not know. I suspect some horses may enjoy being raced but that in many places it's reached the stage where the money is far more important than the actual pleasure and a bit like Olympic athletes the fun at the top is replaced by the dedication to get there and remain there and the horse is simply one of the tools of the trade.
After spectators and TV viewers watched in horror as Our Conor suffered a fatal fall at the Cheltenham Festival, Ruby Walsh said the animal was replaceable.
The 34-year-old Irishman said: ‘Horses are horses. You can replace a horse’.
The comments by Walsh, who has twice won the Grand National, provoked a furious response from animal rights campaigners. They described his words as callous and lacking respect for the horse.
Mr Walsh, who reached a record 40 wins at the Festival after a double-victory yesterday, added: ‘It’s sad, but horses are animals, outside your back door. Humans are humans. They are inside your back door.
‘You can replace a horse. You can’t replace a human being. That’s my feeling on it.’
The comments sparked fury from animal rights campaigners and are likely to reignite the debate over whether horse-racing is an unnecessarily cruel sport.
That said, Ruby Walsh is correct, the way horses are bred means there's always another one ready willing and able (the stud farm not the horse) to be supplied to a jockey. Yes horses are living and deserve to be treat with respect, but from the viewpoint of the racing industry they are a replaceable product in the way that a cycle is a replaceable product in the Tour de France.
I'm pretty sure that the animal rights groups out there would love to close the racing industry down, I doubt they've considered what will happen to the stud farms or their product if they succeed though. I suspect they'd be outraged at the massive cull that would occur if they got their way, though somewhat less outraged at the loss of jobs and livelihoods for the people involved.
So, they can be outraged all they like, truth though is that Walsh is correct and words are simply just that, words, they may believe them to be callous, but I doubt the horse cares, only people care about words and they are often enough incapable of dealing with the truth.