The Jockey’s Journal: Online abuse from unhappy punters highlights the dark side of social media

The Jockey’s Journal: Online abuse from unhappy punters highlights the dark side of social media

SOCIAL media is a powerful thing.

I had a couple of good rides last week, but I nevertheless received some abuse online.

At the best of times Twitter and Facebook can be great for owners to view their horses, or for jockeys getting sponsorship. It’s brilliant for that.

But on the negative side you get plenty of abuse on it as a jockey, which isn’t great.

It doesn’t bother us really, but you always get some smart person giving out on Twitter or Facebook. I personally think that they [social media companies] should fine these people heavily. They should get a £500 fine, and I’d like Twitter to give that money towards children in need or something like that.

I can deal with the abuse, provided that those responsible are being punished.

Some of the worst abuse I’ve received I can’t repeat, but I’ve had people say ‘you’re useless,’ or ‘you shouldn’t be licensed’. In the past I used to get sent private messages too, not just publicly on Twitter.

At one stage over a year ago I had a phone call. I’d bought a new phone and forgot to change my Facebook privacy settings so my number was available for everyone to see. I’d got beaten on a horse and come back to the car only to see someone had left me five missed calls and two voicemails of abuse.

It rubs off. You think ‘who in their entire right mind would do that?’ There are people that just don’t understand horses, they just understand betting. It’s normally the people with the little bets, the £5 each-way, they’re always the ones that will abuse the most.

Coming into Cheltenham, as far as jumping goes, we’ve got our biggest week ahead. There’ll be loads of jockeys receiving abuse from unhappy punters; you’ll even get some trainers getting it too.

Through the dark side of social media there are benefits. You can put so much out there, old pictures, black and white pictures; it’s a history lesson as well.

For betting companies or even the yards it’s a great way or reaching out to the public. Oliver Sherwood publishes great Facebook posts and videos of some of the training lessons they hold.

It’s that close access to jockeys that is unlike many other sports. It can sometimes be a downside.

I’m a Manchester United supporter and used to be a big fan of Ryan Giggs. If he’d missed a goal or a penalty I wouldn’t dare take to social media to abuse him. So, when it gets to that stage I think that more will need to be done.