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‘It needs to stop’ – Saffie Osborne speaks out on social media abuse

Saffie Osborne has spelled out that action must be taken to stop hateful and threatening messages being sent to jockeys and other racing professionals.

Osborne was speaking for the first time since her father Jamie contacted the police after she received a message containing distressing content this week.

The apprentice jockey was initially unsure whether her father, the Lambourn-based trainer, had done the right thing by reporting the issue to the police.

But in an interview on Sky Sports Racing, she made it clear that on reflection she fully supports his decision – not just on her behalf, but for the many others who continue to receive similarly abusive messages.

“I probably wouldn’t ever take this stuff to heart, I never do – I’m pretty thick skinned, I’d like to think,” she said.

“I kind of have a tendency to laugh it off – but I sent it to to dad, half laughing at it (and) thinking it was kind of pathetic that someone would take their time to send you that sort of message.

“He then, rightly so, took it a bit more seriously than I did.”

A police investigation is consequently under way, and she added: “From a personal point of view, this isn’t what I wanted to happen – but looking at the bigger picture now, it probably was the right thing to happen because it’s really shone a light on the situation.

“It’s not about the message that I was sent – it’s about the fact that every single jockey in the weighing room gets sent messages like that on a daily basis.

“I think it’s good that it has really shone a light on it – it needs to stop.

“In any other walk of life, when would being sent a death threat be okay?

“I think just because you’re a jockey or a sportsperson, why should it be okay to be sent a death threat – basically saying you deserve nothing more in life than ending up in a box in the ground?”

Police investigate as Jamie Osborne reports social media abuse

Jamie Osborne has contacted the police after his daughter Saffie became the latest jockey to receive an abusive and hateful message on social media.

The former leading rider turned trainer posted a copy of the message on Twitter, stating: “Social media abuse has gone too far. I will now begin a crusade to have these people banned from all platforms and will not shy away from bringing prosecutions.”

Lambourn-based Osborne said on Thursday morning that he has contacted police and hopes charges will be brought.

He said: “It’s caused a bit of a stir, hasn’t it?

“I know jockeys get messages all the time, and I don’t know what proportion of them get reported, but I think there comes a point where enough is enough.

“I know Saffie has been getting them (messages). But the nature and the tone of this one was in my mind a step too far, and I don’t see why jockeys should have to put up with this on a regular basis without there seemingly being any call for action.

“Saffie is annoyed with me for highlighting this. Luckily she’s pretty tough and she can laugh these things off, but we shouldn’t just take that for granted about our jockeys.

“I don’t know if anybody is planning to take any action, but I certainly am – not for Saffie, necessarily, but for all the jockeys.”

Saffie Osborne riding at Wolverhampton
Saffie Osborne riding at Wolverhampton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Osborne has called for other racing participants to step forward and report abuse to the relevant authorities.

The 53-year-old fears the consequences of not doing so will ultimately be “disastrous” if allowed to continue.

He added: “This message wasn’t a guy saying I don’t like the way you ride – let’s put no finer point on it, it’s threats of rape and death. I don’t know how society can feel this is acceptable.

“The police are investigating. Obviously they will have to go through their due process, but I would be hopeful that charges can be brought and hopefully that will act as a deterrent for people deciding to do the same thing in the future.

Jamie Osborne (left) with daughter Saffie at Windsor
Jamie Osborne (left) with daughter Saffie at Windsor (Francesca Altoft/PA)

“When I was riding, while we didn’t have online things, I used to get the odd hate phone call – and I had a dustbin thrown at me one day on the way in from a race at Wolverhampton!

“But because of this technology, jockeys today are exposed to it constantly. We know everyone is different – everybody’s tolerance levels are different, and everybody’s mentality is slightly different.

“This is an issue. If racing doesn’t collectively get together and look after its participants and protect them from this, the consequences could be disastrous – and will be disastrous somewhere down the line.”

Former Cheltenham chairman Lord Vestey dies aged 79

Former Cheltenham racecourse chairman Lord Vestey has died at the age of 79.

Vestey – whose wife Celia, the sister of Gold Cup-winning trainer Henrietta Knight, died last year, aged 71 – had a long and famous association with the sport.

His blue silks were well known, and he enjoyed success as an owner both over jumps and on the Flat.

Jamie Osborne, now a successful trainer, was on board when the Knight-trained Karshi delivered what was perhaps Vestey’s favourite day at his favourite track.

Owned and bred by Vestey himself, he won the 1997 Stayers’ Hurdle at 20-1.

“Both Lord and Lady Vestey were an absolute pleasure to have anything to do with,” said Osborne.

Lord Vestey played a pivotal role at Cheltenham in his time as racecourse chairman
Lord Vestey played a pivotal role at Cheltenham in his time as racecourse chairman (David Davies/PA)

“They were wonderful people to ride for and wonderful people to be around.

“It’s a very sad day, and my thoughts go out to his family. He was a wonderful man.”

Paying his tribute, Ian Renton, regional managing director for Cheltenham’s owners, Jockey Club Racecourses, said: “We are very saddened to hear of the passing of friend and former Cheltenham chairman, Lord Vestey.

“He was a true gentleman and genuinely lovely man who did so much for our sport, and played a huge role in creating the Cheltenham racecourse that we know today.

“He will be sorely missed by us all at The Jockey Club, and our thoughts go out to his family and friends.”

Saffie Osborne has broken arm and ribs after Windsor fall

Saffie Osborne suffered a broken arm and ribs in her horror fall at Windsor.

However, her father and trainer Jamie Osborne, a former National Hunt jockey, admits he was relieved the damage was not much worse – given the nature of Monday’s incident.

Osborne was partnering the Alexandra Dunn-trained Zeyzoun in division one of the Follow At The Races On Twitter Handicap when her mount clipped heels with Maykir, sending the 7lb claiming apprentice out of the saddle.

“She’s in Wexham Park hospital. She’s awaiting surgery and is having her left arm plated,” said Osborne senior.

“She’s got broken ribs, a little bit of potential trauma to the lung from the ribs – so they’ll monitor that, and hopefully it won’t need draining – but everything that is broken will mend, which is the important thing.

“Having watched and participated in many falls over the last 35 years, you kind of have a sense of when it’s not good – and watching that fall, it had the potential to be a not very good outcome.

“To be honest we’re all relieved that, while there are broken bones, they will mend – it could have been a lot worse.

“This year was all about her gaining as much experience as possible – so she’s experienced a little bit of everything now!

“She was going to go away this winter. We’ll put that on hold, and she’s got plenty of time to get better for the start of next season. It will take more than this to put her off.”

Osborne, an accomplished event rider, has ridden nine winners in her first season racing.

Marco Ghiani, the rider of Maykir, was handed a 10-day ban because of the incident.

The jockey later sent a tweet thanking the doctors and paramedics who have so far treated her at Windsor and Wexham Park hospital.

“Although I haven’t seen the fall and don’t remember it, I feel very lucky to have escaped with only a broken arm, broken ribs and a punctured lung,” she said.

“I would like to thank the incredible doctors and paramedics at Windsor racecourse as well as the surgeons, doctors and nurses at Wexham Park Hospital for all their care and attention that have already put me on the road to recovery.

“The surgery on my arm has gone well and I’m looking forward to getting back in the saddle.”

Saffie Osborne ‘going to be fine’ after Windsor fall

Jamie Osborne described his “immeasurable sense of relief” on Monday evening after confirming his daughter Saffie had escaped serious injury in a heavy fall at Windsor.

Osborne was partnering the Alexandra Dunn-trained Zeyzoun in division one of the Follow At The Races On Twitter Handicap when her mount clipped heels, sending the 7lb claiming apprentice out of the saddle.

Windsor’s clerk of the course, Sophie Candy, reported Osborne was conscious before being taken to Wexham Park Hospital for further assessment.

Then two hours later, her father – former jump jockey turned trainer – provided a positive update on his Twitter feed.

He wrote: “With an immeasurable sense of relief, I can report that @OsborneSaffie is going to be fine.

“Katie (trainer’s wife) and I thank you all for your concern and kind words.”

The stewards held an inquiry into the incident and suspended 5lb claimer Marco Ghiani for 10 days for careless riding.

The official report read: “Ghiani was suspended for 10 days for careless riding as he had manoeuvred right-handed towards the rail when insufficiently clear, causing Zeyzoun to clip heels and unseat Osborne.”

Osborne had been successful on the 11-year-old Pettochside for trainer John Bridger in the Sky Sports Racing HD Virgin 535 Classifield Claiming Stakes earlier on the card.

Osbornes take aim at Balmoral Handicap

Jamie and Saffie Osborne are aiming to emulate the O’Brien family when Raising Sand runs in the Balmoral Handicap on Qipco British Champions Day.

Both Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien rode winners trained by their father Aidan  on British racing’s showpiece day – and while their successes came in Group Ones rather than a handicap, the difference is Saffie Osborne has had fewer than 80 rides in her career to date.

A very accomplished Eventing rider, she has now set her heart on a career in racing – and with eight winners already under her belt from a truncated season, she has made a very bright start.

Saffie Osborne has been making a name for herself this season
Saffie Osborne has been making a name for herself this season (David Davies/PA)

Her father, of course, was one of the most gifted National Hunt riders of his generation – and since then has been no stranger to big winners on the Flat at Ascot, with Raising Sand himself adding two major prizes, the Challenge Cup in 2018 and the International Stakes last summer.

This will, however, be only Raising Sand’s second run of the season.

“It’s been an unfortunate year for him – and at his age, I don’t know how many more years we are going to have,” said Osborne snr.

“It’s either been too firm or too waterlogged!

“He might be eight but he still shows me at home he’s as good as ever.

“I wouldn’t worry about the lack of racing – he was ready for the race there a fortnight ago that was abandoned, and our worry then was whether running in both races might be a bit much. ‘Was there enough time between them?'”

With his daughter taking 7lb off the top weight in one of the most valuable handicaps of the season, does Osborne now think Raising Sand is well treated on Saturday?

“It depends what your view is of the 7lb. Is her lack of experience worth 7lb?She’s been doing all right so far,” was as far as he would praise his daughter – although many others would say she is doing a good deal better than that.

As for his stable stalwart, he added: “He’s got his set of circumstances that bring out his best, so all we can do is hope for a bit of luck.

“I’m happy that the horse is in the right place.”