High-profile horse trainer suspended over disturbing photo

High-profile horse trainer suspended over disturbing photo

An image of top horse trainer Gordon Elliott posing for a photo while sitting on a dead horse has resulted in horror and anger from the public and British racing circles on Monday.

The Irishman is one of the sport’s most celebrated figures and has apologised for the disturbing image after it resurfaced on Saturday.

It depicted him sitting on a horse that had just died of a heart attack after a training run.

Elliott has since been suspended from horse racing, as reported by the BBC.

One of his most high-profile employers, Cheveley Park Stud, said they are "truly horrified" by the image.

Image: Instagram

Bookmaker Betfair dropped Elliott as an ambassador, saying his actions were not consistent with its "values".

A scathing statement from the British Horseracing Authority slammed the star.

"People who work in our industry believe their values — of caring for and respecting our horses — have been deeply undermined by this behaviour," the statement read.

The BHA said it was "appalled" by the image, saying: "On behalf of all horse-lovers, we say loudly that British horseracing finds this totally unacceptable."

Elliot defended his actions, saying the incident occurred “some time ago” and the picture was taken while he waited for the body of the horse to be taken away.

He went on to explain that he had received a phone call and had sat down on the dead animal “without thinking”.

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board is investigating the incident and the BHA said it is "considering its own regulatory options".

Both bodies have temporarily banned Elliott.

Elliott has been a Grand National-winning trainer three times, first taking the prize in 2007 with Silver Birch.

He would go on to train Tiger Roll to become the first back-to-back winner of horse racing's most gruelling jumps race — in 2018 and '19 — since Red Rum in the 1970s.

He has trained 32 winners at the Cheltenham Festival.

Tiger Roll owner, Michael O'Leary, is one of the few to come out in support of Elliott.

"We accept that this photograph was a grievous but momentary lapse of judgement by Gordon," said O'Leary, who runs the Gigginstown House Stud operation and is also CEO of budget airline Ryanair.

He continued: “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."

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has said their investigation will be dealt with "as quickly as possible".