Count Gervais among jump racing critics

April 13, 2012

Those involved in the sport of steeplechase horse racing now know how it feels to be a celebrity at the Golden Globes. They got a dose of British comedian Ricky Gervais' barbs, too.

Gervais, co-creator of the TV comedy "The Office," targeted steeplechase racing mere days before the running of the storied Grand National at Aintree Racecourse in England.

"I don't think that people should make horses jump over things, being whipped," Gervais said in a radio interview this week, as recounted by The Guardian newspaper, "and when they injure themselves, they are put down because they are not worth having around because of economic reasons.

"Basically, a beautiful majestic beast that took two billion years to evolve has just been slaughtered for fun. But I don't go to Aintree, that's how I do it."


Gervais' comments came in an interview on BBC radio in a discussion of his new British show "Derek" and the validity of criticism about potentially offensive humor. Host Richard Bacon was broadcasting from Aintree and asked Gervais what offends him, prompting the steeplechase diatribe.

Gervais, already a well-known writer and actor, gained a large measure of notoriety for turning the 2011 Golden Globe broadcast into a roast of the nominees and other celebrities. His return as host was hotly debated, but he again was emcee of the 2012 ceremony.

The Grand National is no stranger to criticism. Two of the 21 horses in the 2011 event suffered fatal falls, raising questions about the safety of the Aintree course and the sport itself. This year's race is Saturday.