Elliott, 43, claimed the photo was “taken some time ago after a horse galloped from an apparent heart attack”. He said he was standing over the horse waiting for help with the removal when his phone rang and he absently sat down to take the call. His hand gesture, he said, should let an arriving member of his team know to wait until he finishes the call.
“I appreciate that an initial look at this photo suggests that it is a calloused and staged photo, but nothing could be further from the truth,” said Elliott, the horse at the stable of Cullentra House in County Ireland Meath trains. “… The well-being of the horses and the care and attention to detail are the focus of everything we do here. Both I and my entire team are proud of these standards.”
In a Twitter post on Saturday when the photo went viral, Elliott said the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board had contacted him about it and he would be “fully cooperating with their investigation.”
The British Horse Racing Agency said Monday it would “use powers under its own rules to refuse to allow horses trained by Mr Elliott to race in the UK until the results of the Irish investigation are verified”. It added that horses he trained could be transferred to other trainers and compete in British races.
The BHA said the photo was “appalled” and, in addition to what the IHRB investigation might reveal, the UK agency was considering “its own regulatory options”.
“We expect all athletes to show respect for horses, on the racetrack, on the training ground, at a gallop and wherever they have horses in their care,” said the BHA. “People who work in our industry believe that their values - the care and respect for our horses – have been deeply undermined by this behavior. On their behalf, and on behalf of all horse lovers, we clearly state that British horse racing finds this completely unacceptable. “
Further convictions have been issued by Horse Racing Ireland, the UK National Trainers Federation and the Cheveley Park Stud. The latter is a owned and breeding company in England that has hired Elliott to train, among others, Envoi Allen, an undefeated gelding set to win next week at the prestigious Cheltenham Festival in Gloucestershire, England.
Video surfaced Tuesday of a jockey riding a dead horse, sparking further outrage and questions about the sport’s respect for the animals that fuel it. Jockey Rob James, who rode to a victory on a horse trained by Elliott at the Cheltenham Festival last year, apologized for the video, which is reportedly from 2016.
“Trying to defend my stupidity at the time would insult and hurt the many loyal people who have supported me throughout my career,” James told Irish Field. “I’ve embarrassed my employers, my family, and especially the sport I love. I am broken by the damage I have caused and will do my best to make amends for those injured by my behavior. “
Elliott was deposed on Monday by the British betting company Betfair, for which he had been ambassador. “While we recognize that Gordon deeply regrets his poor judgment and apologizes wholeheartedly,” the company said (via the BBC), “his actions are completely at odds with the values of the Betfair brand and those of our employees.”
“It’s unjustifiable,” Elliott said of the photo to the Racing Post. “Whether alive or dead, the horse was entitled to dignity. A moment of madness that I have to pay for the rest of my life and that my employees suffer for. I am being punished, I fully understand that. But it absolutely breaks my heart when I read and hear people say 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 don’t know anything else. Horses are all I have. I came out of nowhere and built a dream.
“If your world collapses in front of you, it’s a scary place,” he continued. “I just hope people can understand how sorry I am and find a way to forgive me for what I’ve done.”
After a successful career as a rider, Elliott became more important as a trainer, particularly with National Hunt horses competing in obstacle and hurdle races. His first major win in that capacity was at the 2007 Grand National, and his next two wins in the main obstacle course event were in 2018 and 2019 in a row with Tiger Roll, whose offer was wiped out for three in a row last year by the coronavirus pandemic.
Michael O’Leary, executive director of low-cost airline Ryanair, which owns Tiger Roll through its Gigginstown House Stud operation, offered assistance to the coach on Monday while denouncing the image as “unacceptable.”
“We accept that this photo was a grave but temporary misjudgment of Gordon,” said O’Leary in a statement, “and not in line with our 15 years of experience of his concern for the welfare of our horses and his care for their welfare of our horses. ” We all make mistakes, and the important thing is that we learn from them and make sure we don’t repeat them. We accept Gordon’s sincere, profound and unreserved apology and will continue to support him and his team in Cullentra as they work to recover from this deeply unfortunate incident. “
Elliott told the Racing Post that the horse in the photo was a Gigginstown gelding who was 7 years old when he died of a cardiac aneurysm in 2019.
“I just thought it had to be a fake, and then as the story unfolded I was so sad,” said Mick Fitzgerald, a former Grand National winning jockey and 14-time winner at Cheltenham who is now Sky Sports Analyst is. said Monday in this network. “The number one thing we need to tell everyone is how much we care about these horses. It is so important that everyone who sees this channel and is interested in our sport at all knows that the focus is on people who love these animals.
“Look, it makes me pretty emotional,” continued Fitzgerald in a trembling voice. “These horses have given me a life that I have the privilege of. It just makes me very sad. “