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My view on the distressing Daily Mirror ‘story’

I, like everyone else in the racing industry, awoke this morning to discover that the Daily Mirror had released shocking pictures of Wigmore Hall being put down after suffering fatal injuries at Doncaster last Saturday. I had just returned from seeing to my own horses in the morning when I did my usual check of Twitter, where the first news of this disgraceful lack of respect and dignity came to my attention.


This led me to the story itself on the Daily Mirror website, something I am now regretting – having given them another ‘hit’ they don’t deserve. Shock, sickness and anger were the immediate feelings thrust upon me, as well as the very simple question of why? Why would anyone see it as suitable to release pictures of this nature and why would anyone take the pictures in the first place?

It is not simply the pictures that shocked me, there was also the glaring fact that there was a complete lack of knowledge of horses and the racing industry and therefore, a completely inept report on the story itself. Obviously the people at the Daily Mirror are there to sell copies of their newspaper and of course they use pictures to sell tabloid’s but pictures of this nature are good for no one but the money makers involved.


I have been around horses since the day that I was born and have a strong affinity with them. In someways I prefer horses to humans (particularly after today) and do not enjoy racing merely for the fun of gambling, I love horses and I love to see these amazing specimens do what they were bred to do, which is run.


Caring for horses of my own and working at racing yards for many years, I have seen first hand the love and care that goes into these animals, something that the writers of this story and the ‘campaign group’ Animal Aid obviously have not. Racehorses are treated with love and kindness and if you spend day in, day out with them, they soon become more than animals, they become your friends.


Having seen the pictures, my first thoughts were of what Wigmore Hall’s trainer Michael Bell and the horse’s stable lad or lass must be feeling. How distressing must it be to have to see pictures of that nature of a friend that you are still mourning the loss of. I know from personal experience that the void left by the death of a horse, or even just by a horse being moved to a different yard, can leave a hole in your heart for quite some time.


Now to Animal Aid, the so called ‘campaign group’. Firstly why would they be at a race meeting if it is something that they detest and why, oh why, would they take a picture of this nature and sell it to a tabloid newspaper? A look at their website tells you that they are against cruelty to animals, animal farming, shooting, slaughter and many many more things, except apparently taking pictures of distressed animals for money.


Having to put down an animal is never easy. These pictures make it look like that the vets involved and others around are just routinely doing their job. The vets were at Wigmore Hall’s side that day in brilliantly quick time and having made the decision that the injuries were untreatable and so for the horses welfare he was humanely put down.


If you were to believe today’s story this is cruelty to animals. I myself have seen a horse of my own put down in this manner and it is never easy to deal with. What is harder to deal with is the horse in so much pain and looking to you for help, something which you can not give.


The media have got exactly what they wanted from the story and pictures and that is simply a reaction. They have put these pictures out in an attempt to sell more copies, to get people talking and ultimately to make money. Maybe it is in our interest to move on quickly, forget the publicity hungry folk and remember Wigmore Hall for what he was, a talented racehorse who gave connections many happy days.


By Kevin Walsh / Photo: John Walton/EMPICS Sport


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