Ruby Walsh clarifies comments that horses are 'expendable' following death of Our Conor
Ruby Walsh has clarified his views after reports he claimed horses were expendable following the death of Our Conor at Cheltenham on Tuesday.
Brilliant winner of the Triumph hurdle 12 months ago, Dessie Hughes' charge was put down after sustaining a back injury when falling the Stan James Champion Hurdle.
On Monday, Walsh's weighing-room colleague Jason Maguire suffered a bad fall at Stratford, with his injuries resulting in part of his liver being removed.
After winning the opening Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham yesterday, Walsh said: "You can make too much of winning here. This morning was a cold and timely reminder with Jason Maguire. There's a lot more to life than riding winners at Cheltenham. It's a big week but there's more to life than Cheltenham."
Following the fall of Our Conor, the Daily Mail quoted Walsh as saying: "Horses are horses. You can replace a horse.
"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 a furious response from a number of animal rights groups, but Walsh felt his view had been slightly misinterpreted.
He told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast on talkSPORT: "We look after horses like they're pets. There's a huge difference between your pet and your family. That's the point I was making.
"There's a big difference between you going home tonight and something's happened to your dog, and you go home tonight and something's happened to one of your kids. There's a huge difference.
"We look after horses like they are pets, and that's the feeling you get when something goes wrong. At the end of the day, it's still your pet. It ain't your son, your daughter, your brother, your sister."
The British Horseracing Authority underlined its commitment to horse welfare and pointed out an improvement in equine fatality statistics.
Spokesman Robin Mounsey said: "Everyone in the sport of racing regrets the loss of a horse, especially those who are close to the horses in question.
"The welfare of horses and riders is of paramount importance.
"The highest standards of horse welfare are demanded of all jockeys, trainers and racecourses and the sport employs over 6,000 people to provide constant care and attention for the 14,000 horses in training, providing them with a level of care and a quality of life that is virtually unsurpassed by any other domesticated animal.
"Despite the best efforts of all involved, as with participation in any sport involving speed and athleticism, there remains an inherent risk of injury.
"British racing is open and transparent about the risks involved to both horse and rider. Over the last 15 years, the equine fatality rate in British racing has fallen by one-third, from 0.3 per cent to 0.2 per cent of runners."
Independent News Service