Photo of famed trainer atop dead horse sparks outrage, leads to ban in Britain

Elliott, 43, claimed that the picture “was taken some time ago and occurred after a horse died of an apparent heart attack on the gallops.” He stated he was standing over the horse whereas ready for assist with its removing when his cellphone rang and he absent-mindedly sat down to take the decision. His hand gesture, he stated, was meant to let an arriving member of his workforce know to wait till he was completed with the decision.

“I appreciate that an initial viewing of this photo suggests it is a callous and staged photo but nothing could be further from the truth,” declared Elliott, who trains horses at Cullentra House stables in Ireland’s County Meath. “ … Horse welfare and the care and attention to detail involved is absolutely at the core of everything we do here and both myself and all of my team pride ourselves on those standards.”

In a Twitter submit Saturday, when the picture started to go viral, Elliott said the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) had contacted him about it and that he could be “cooperating fully with their investigation.”

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) said Monday it would “use powers under its own rules to refuse to allow horses trained by Mr Elliott to race in Britain pending consideration of the outcome of the Irish investigation.” It added that horses educated by him could possibly be transferred to different trainers and entered into British races.

The BHA said it was “appalled” by the picture and, in addition to no matter may come of the IHRB investigation, the British physique was “considering its own regulatory options.”

“We expect all those in our sport to demonstrate respect for horses, on the racecourse, in the training yard, on the gallops, and wherever they have horses in their care,” the BHA stated. “People who work in our industry believe their values — of caring for and respecting our horses — have been deeply undermined by this behaviour. On their behalf, and on behalf of all horse-lovers, we say unequivocally that British horseracing finds this totally unacceptable.”

Other statements of condemnation had been issued by Horse Racing Ireland, Britain’s National Trainers Federation and Cheveley Park Stud. The latter is an possession and breeding operation in England that has employed Elliott to prepare, amongst different horses, Envoi Allen, an undefeated gelding favored to win subsequent week on the prestigious Cheltenham Festival in Gloucestershire, England.

Elliott was dropped by the British betting firm Betfair, for which he had been an envoy. “While we recognise that Gordon deeply regrets and apologised unreservedly for his poor judgement,” the corporate stated Monday (by way of the BBC), “his actions are completely at odds with the values of the Betfair brand and that of our employees.”

“It is indefensible,” Elliott stated of the picture to the Racing Post. “Whether alive or dead, the horse was entitled to dignity. A moment of madness that I am going to have to spend the rest of my life paying for and that my staff are suffering for. I will be punished, I fully understand that. But it absolutely breaks my heart to read and hear people say that I have no respect for my horses. That couldn’t be further from the truth. My whole life has revolved around horses since I was a child. I know nothing else. Horses are all I have. I came from nothing and built a dream.

“When your world starts crumbling in front of you, it’s a scary place to be,” he continued. “I just hope people can understand how truly sorry I am and find some way to forgive me for what I have done.”

After a profitable profession as a rider, Elliott achieved higher prominence as a trainer, significantly of National Hunt horses, which compete in steeplechase and hurdles races. His first massive win in that capability got here on the Grand National in 2007, and his subsequent two victories in steeplechase’s foremost occasion had been back-to-back in 2018 and 2019 with Tiger Roll, whose bid for 3 in a row was worn out final yr by the coronavirus pandemic.

Tiger Roll will attempt once more on the Grand National in April, however it’s unclear if Elliott might be eligible at that time to accompany the Irish-bred horse to the grounds at England’s Aintree Racecourse. Michael O’Leary, chief government of the price range airline Ryanair who owns Tiger Roll by his Gigginstown House Stud operation, supplied help Monday for the trainer whereas denouncing the picture as “unacceptable.”

“We accept that this photograph was a grievous but momentary lapse of judgement by Gordon,” O’Leary stated in a statement, “and not in keeping with our 15-year experience of his concern for and attention to the welfare of our horses. We all make mistakes, and what is important is that we learn from them and ensure we do not repeat them. We accept Gordon’s sincere, profound and unreserved apology and we will continue to support him and his team at Cullentra, as they work to recover from this deeply regrettable incident.”

Elliott instructed the Racing Post that the horse in the picture was a Gigginstown-owned gelding who was 7 years outdated when he died of a coronary heart aneurysm in 2019.

“I just thought it has to be a fake, and then when the story was evolving … I felt so sad,” Mick Fitzgerald, a former Grand National-winning jockey and 14-time winner at Cheltenham who’s now a Sky Sports analyst, said Monday on that community. “The number one thing that we have to get out to everybody is how much we care about these horses. It is so important that everybody who is watching this channel, who has any interest at all in our sport, knows that at the heart of this are people who love these animals.

“Look, it’s making me quite emotional,” continued Fitzgerald, his voice quavering. “These horses have given me a life that I’m privileged to have. It just makes me feel really sad.”

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