Ruby stands over welfare remarks

Ruby Walsh has stood over his comments, made on Tuesday after the death of Our Conor at Cheltenham, which have been greeted with anger by animal welfare activists in the UK.

The champion jockey had been asked about the demise of the Barry Connell-owned five-year-old who suffered a back injury in the featured Stan James Champion Hurdle on the opening day of the Festival.

“It’s sad,” said Walsh at the time, “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.”

Animal Aid, a group campaigning against animal experiments, factory farming, wildlife culls, and the use of animals for sport and leisure, has pointed out that 48 horses have lost their lives at the Cheltenham track in the last seven years.

“We live in a liberal, democratic, world and I’m as entitled to my opinion as much as anyone else and if they don’t agree with it they’re entitled to their opinion,” said Walsh after his win on board Faugheen.

“That happens. You write for the papers. They’re old news now.

“I love horses like the next man. But your pet and your family are two different things. You might consider it a part of your family, but your pet and your family are different things. There’s no-one more sympathetic to horses than me.”

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