“I’LL kill you, your family and that jockey… I’ll burn down your stable and your home.”
That was the message that greeted trainer Henry Spiller and his wife, Niamh, over breakfast earlier this week.
According to Newmarket-based Spiller, that was one of 30 or 40 abusive messages he received after his horse Mashaaer finished second at Bath.
It might shock you to read a message like that, and it’s even worse when you say it out loud.
But it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
How about this message that was sent to young jockey Saffie Osborne, daughter of trainer Jamie, last summer?
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“You stupid f***ing wh*re. You need raping and beating to death you sl*t.
“Daddy won’t help you, you sl*t. Keep your t*ts in you wh*re. Die you little b**ch.”
No wonder the Osborne family felt this had 'overstepped the mark'.
Similar bile was directed at trainer David Menuisier recently, too.
He showed me this message when I visited his yard earlier this month: “Give this [message] to Jamie Spencer.
“If he stops riding again I will smash his eyes out of his skull and you will be next.
“I will come to your stables and home and burn it all down and kill your family.”
Both Osborne and Menuisier, who are no strangers to ‘trolling’ on social media, decided to report the abuse to the police.
Imagine checking your phone each day and reading those sorts of messages?
Jockeys and trainers must be some of the most abused people on the planet.
When I used to gamble, I would often get in a foul mood when my bets lost. And trust me I lost plenty of them.
I would swear and throw the remote across the room and go into a deep sulk.
But never in a million years would I think it was okay to log on to social media and dish out death threats like they’re going out of fashion.
If you feel it’s right to resort to that sort of behaviour, I would suggest you seek help and stop gambling immediately, as you clearly can’t handle the ups and downs that come attached.
Would you walk up to a trainer at a racecourse and say these sorts of things to their face? Of course you wouldn't.
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Spiller, and plenty of other trainers before him, say racing chiefs aren't doing enough to support those who are on the receiving end of such abuse. The question is, what can be done to stop it? I’m sure there will be smarter bods than me trying to figure out the answer.
Until there are some form of identity checks before you set up a social media account, these nasty pieces of work will continue to operate in the shadows.
But social media can be used for good as we saw this week, albeit in tragic circumstances.
The popular punter and tipster, Graeme Dand, who went by the name of ‘The Form Analyst’ on Twitter, sadly died this week, aged just 40.
He was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer last June and had been ‘tracking his journey to the end’ online.
He did so with admirable openness and a good slice of humour, and the racing community had rallied around to support him.
He leaves behind his wife and three young children, and racing fans have helped raise over £20,000 to support them.
On one hand you get an outpouring of kindness and generosity and on the other pure hatred. Social media is a strange beast.
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