Gordon Elliott has coached more than 140 winners this season and is runner-up in the Irish Coaching Championship after Willie Mullins
Leading Irish racehorse trainer Gordon Elliott has apologized for a photo posted on social media of him sitting on a dead horse.
The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) has started an examination of the picture, what Elliott says was taken “some time ago”.
“I sincerely apologize for any crime that this photo has caused,” he said.
On Monday, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) said it was “appalled” by the picture, adding it was considering “its own regulatory options”.
The 43-year-old who lives in County Meath is a very successful coach who has won the Grand National three times, including twice with Tiger Roll.
“I can categorically state that the well-being of every single horse I care for is of the utmost importance and has been central to the success we have enjoyed,” he said.
“The photo in question was taken some time ago and occurred after a horse galloped from an apparent heart attack.
“At a sad time when a horse is dying under my care, my first reaction was to remove the body from its position.
“I stood over the horse, waiting to help remove the body. Meanwhile, I received a phone call as a reminder and sat down without thinking to answer it. When I heard a scream from one of my teams, I meant to wait till i finished.
“Such background information may seem trivial at this point and will not allay the concerns of many people both inside and outside the world of horse racing.”
What was the reaction like?
Michael O’Leary Gigginstown, who owns Tiger Roll and a number of other Elliott-trained horses, “will continue to support him and his team as they work to recover from this deeply unfortunate incident.”
He says the photo is “unacceptable” and “serious” but calls it a “temporary mistake” and adds that “we all make mistakes” and that Gigginstown accepts Elliott’s apology.
Cheveley Park Stud, Anyone who owns several horses trained by Elliott, including the undefeated Envoi Allen, says they are “really appalled” by the photo, but will not comment further until the IHRB’s investigation is complete.
The Jockey Clubwho owns the Cheltenham and Aintree circuits, said: “This is clearly totally unacceptable and does not reflect the respect and care that racehorses receive from participants in our sport.
“The anger and excitement in racing says it all. We understand the authorities are urgently reviewing this.”
Betfair said Monday it had decided to end its relationship with Elliott, who had been an ambassador for the betting company.
“While we recognize that Gordon deeply regrets his poor judgment and apologizes wholeheartedly, his actions are completely at odds with the values of the Betfair brand and those of our employees,” a Betfair spokesman told the BBC. “With this in mind, we have decided to end our collaboration with Gordon with immediate effect.”
The welfare World horse welfare ride said: “This photo looks hideous. We understand the coach has apologized and an investigation is underway.”
Great British Racing, The British Racing Association said: “Respect for our horses is at the heart of everything we stand for in British racing and the shocking image goes against that, betraying the work of the thousands of people who love and care for our horses every day – us condemn it in the strongest possible terms. “
An IHRB spokesman said on Sunday: “The investigation is still ongoing and will be processed as soon as possible.”
The BHA added: “We expect everyone in our sport to show respect for horses on the racetrack, on the training ground, at a gallop and wherever they have horses in their care.
“People who work in our industry believe that their values - caring for and respecting our horses – have been profoundly undermined by this behavior. On their behalf, and on behalf of all horse lovers, we say out loud that the British Horse Racing utterly does so finds unacceptable. “