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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.”

Gordon Elliott apologises ‘profoundly’ and offers ‘context’ to events that led to social media image

Gordon Elliott has said he “cannot apologise enough” after an investigation was launched by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board into an image of the Grand National-winning trainer circulating on social media.

The image was posted and widely shared on Twitter on Saturday, with the regulatory board of the sport in Ireland later tweeting: “The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board are aware of an image circulating on social media and the matter is under investigation.”

It appeared to show Elliott sitting on a dead horse on the gallops – and while many people commented on social media that it looked fake, the County Meath handler said in a statement issued on Sunday evening: “I would like to address the speculation and rumours that have been rife since an old photo of me began circulating on social media yesterday afternoon.

“Firstly, I apologise profoundly for any offence that this photo has caused and can categorically state that the welfare of each and every horse under my care is paramount and has been central to the success that we have enjoyed here at Cullentra.

“The photo in question was taken some time ago and occurred after a horse had died of an apparent heart attack on the gallops. I appreciate that an initial viewing of this photo suggests it is a callous and staged photo, but nothing could be further from the truth.

“At what was a sad time, which it is when any horse under my care passes away, my initial reaction was to get the body removed from where it was positioned.

Elliott has offered
Elliott has offered “context” for the image which appeared on Twitter (Simon Cooper/PA)

“I was standing over the horse waiting to help with the removal of the body, in the course of which, to my memory I received a call and, without thinking, I sat down to take it. Hearing a shout from one of my team, I gestured to wait until I was finished.

“Such background information may seem trivial at this time and will not allay the concerns of many people both within and outside the world of horse racing.

“However, I feel it is important to provide people with some context surrounding this photo. To the racing community, to anyone who has worked with and loves horses and to anyone offended by this image I cannot apologise enough.

“Horse welfare and the care and attention to detail involved is absolutely at the core of everything we do here and both myself and all of my team pride ourselves on those standards.

“Again I apologise for any offence caused and ask people to consider this statement as opposed to the various falsehoods and misinformation being circulated on social media.

“At this time I would like to stress that I continue to extend my full cooperation with the ongoing IHRB investigation.”

Speaking on Sunday lunchtime, an IHRB spokesman said: “The investigation is under way, and it will be dealt with as quickly as possible.”

The British Horseracing Authority welcomed the IHRB’s investigation, and is hoping for a swift resolution, calling the image “shocking”.

Elliott trains dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll
Elliott trains dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll (Brian Lawless/PA)

A spokesperson said: “We hope the Irish authorities will quickly confirm how this shocking picture originated.

“Respect for horses is a fundamental value of our sport, contrary to the impression in this picture. The IHRB have assured us that the investigation will be carried out as quickly as possible and that they will keep us informed as more information becomes available.”

Elliott is a three-time Grand National winner, having sent out Silver Birch to claim the Aintree prize before Tiger Roll became the first back-to-back winner of the race since Red Rum when lifting the world-famous event in 2018 and 2019.

The 42-year-old also counts 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack among the best horses he has trained, with 32 Cheltenham Festival wins to his name so far.

Elliott houses a number of favourites for this year’s Festival, including Envoi Allen and Zanahiyr, while Tiger Roll himself is also due to run in the Glenfarclas Chase over Cheltenham’s cross-country fences.

Gordon Elliott ‘cooperating fully’ with IHRB investigation

Gordon Elliott has said he will be “cooperating fully” with the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board after an investigation was launched into a purported image of the leading trainer which was posted on social media on Saturday.

The image was posted and widely shared on Twitter, with the regulatory board of the sport in Ireland later tweeting: “The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board are aware of an image circulating on social media and the matter is under investigation.”

The image appears to show Elliott sitting on a dead horse on the gallops – although many people have commented on social media that it looks fake.

Elliott responded from his official Twitter account.

He posted: “I’m aware of a photo in circulation on social media. The IHRB have been in contact with me regarding this photo and I will be cooperating fully with their investigation.”

Speaking on Sunday lunchtime, an IHRB spokesman said: “The investigation is under way, and it will be dealt with as quickly as possible.”

Elliott is a three-time Grand National winner, having sent out Silver Birch to claim the Aintree prize before Tiger Roll became the first back-to-back winner of the race since Red Rum when lifting the marathon event in 2018 and 2019.

Elliott with dual National hero Tiger Roll
Elliott with dual National hero Tiger Roll (Niall Carson/PA)

The County Meath handler also counts 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack among the best horses he has trained, with 32 Cheltenham Festival wins to his name so far.

Elliott houses a number of favourites for this year’s Festival, including Envoi Allen and Zanahiyr, while Tiger Roll himself is also due to run in the Glenfarclas Chase over Cheltenham’s cross-country fences.

The British Horseracing Authority has welcomed the IHRB’s investigation, and is hoping for a speedy resolution.

A spokesperson said: “We hope the Irish authorities will quickly confirm how this shocking picture originated.

“Respect for horses is a fundamental value of our sport, contrary to the impression in this picture. The IHRB have assured us that the investigation will be carried out as quickly as possible and that they will keep us informed as more information becomes available.”