Disgraced Grand National-winning trainer Gordon Elliott is banned for 12 months after shocking photo of him sat on a dead horse caused worldwide outrage

  • Grand National-winning trainer Gordon Elliott has been banned from training
  • The verdict comes following the grotesque image of him sat on a dead horse
  • The 43-year-old is not set to drag out the case any longer by lodging an appealIrish trainer Gordon Elliott's reputation was in tatters after he was banned from the sport for six months over a shocking photograph of him sitting on a dead horse.

    Elliott received a 12-month ban from the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board but six months was suspended. He was also fined €15,000 (£13,000). 

    In a strongly worded statement, the referrals committee of the IHRB said Elliott's actions had 'damaged the reputation of the Irish racing industry and the thoroughbred industry'.They added that his actions had shown a 'complete lack of respect for the horse'. The IHRB accepted the three-time Grand National-winning trainer felt 'genuine remorse' for the incident, that he accepted his actions had offended many people and that what he had done was 'wrong and indefensible'. 

    Trainer Gordon Elliott has been punished after photo emerged of him sat on a dead horse

    Trainer Gordon Elliott has been punished after photo emerged of him sat on a dead horse

    The IHRB referrals committee, who said their organisation had received an avalanche of complaints, concluded: 'We consider a suspension of Mr Elliott's training licence is merited.

    'To reflect the seriousness of the offence and the damage to the Irish racing industry, to deter other offences of this nature and, having taken into account the mitigating factors we have heard, we consider the period should be 12 months. However the last six months of this will be suspended. The committee also notes that Mr Elliott has stated to the committee that he will not attend a race meeting or a point-to-point for six months and we accept that helpful course.'

    There remains a question of who circulated the picture of Elliott on the dead gelding Morgan, and the IHRB noted there was a 'sinister aspect to this case'.Their statement added: 'The committee are satisfied that the publication of this photograph is part of a concerted attack on Mr Elliott, the full circumstances of which are unknown.'

    A week ago, Elliott had been preparing for the Cheltenham Festival with a number of favourites in his County Meath stable. 

    The 43-year-old signalled that he intended to return to the sport when his ban ends. A statement issued by his legal team said: 'I accept my situation and my sanction. I was dealt with fairly.

    'I am in this situation by my own action and I am not going to dodge away from this. With my position in the sport, I have great privileges and great responsibility. I did not live up to that responsibility.

    'I am no longer the teenage boy who first rode a horse at Tony Martin's 30 years ago. I am an adult with obligations and a position in a sport I have loved since I first saw horses race.

    'I am paying a very heavy price for my error but I have no complaints. It breaks my heart to see the hurt I have caused my colleagues, family, friends and supporters. I have a long road ahead of me but I will serve my time and then build back better.

    'I was disrespectful to a dead horse, an animal that had been a loyal servant to me and was loved by my staff. I will carry the burden of my transgressions for the rest of my career. I will never again disrespect a horse, living or dead, and I will not tolerate it in others.  

    'Finally, I want to thank my owners and my staff who, despite being let down by me, have been unstinting in their support. I will vindicate their faith in me.'

    The IHRB committee took evidence from Dr Jennifer Pugh, the IHRB's senior medical officer, on Elliott's mental state and noted he was likely to suffer further reputational damage and economic loss through the loss of horses in his stable and business contacts.

    Elliott has already received support from his main backer, the Gigginstown Stud of Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, who has around 40 per cent of the horses in Elliott's stable.

    Philip Reynolds, whose eight horses in the Elliott stable include the talented chaser Presenting Percy, has also been supportive. Other owners had said they would wait until the IHRB investigation was resolved until deciding what to do. However, the British-based Cheveley Park Stud have already removed their eight horses from the stable, including unbeaten dual Cheltenham Festival winner Envoi Allen.

    The BHA had already banned Elliott from having runners in Britain while the IHRB investigation was ongoing.

    The plan is to allow a caretaker trainer to take the licence at Elliott's stable while his licence is suspended.

    Elliott's main backer, Michael O'Leary's (right) Gigginstown Stud, stood by Elliott after apology

    Elliott's main backer, Michael O'Leary's (right) Gigginstown Stud, stood by Elliott after apologyOwners Cheveley Park Stud moved all eight horses, including the unbeaten Envoi Allen (above), in Gordon Elliott's care to other trainers

    Owners Cheveley Park Stud moved all eight horses, including the unbeaten Envoi Allen (above), in Gordon Elliott's care to other trainers

    There was speculation that the person soon to take over is Denise Foster. Someone new at the helm would allow owners with horses at Elliott's County Meath base to keep their entries at the Cheltenham Festival, which starts a week on Tuesday, without having to move them to new stables.

    It would also mean Elliott's business stands a chance of remaining viable while he is suspended.

    Responding to the ban, the BHA said: 'The suspension will be reciprocated here in Britain. The restriction on Mr Elliott having runners in Britain will stay in place until the suspension takes effect on March 9.

    'The decision confirms that horses will not be able to run at the Cheltenham Festival or Grand National Festival in the name of Gordon Elliott.

    'However, if horses are transferred directly to other licensed trainers prior to March 9 — when the suspension is due to commence — they will be able to run.'

    The picture shook the racing world with the Cheltenham Festival less than two weeks away

    The picture shook the racing world with the Cheltenham Festival less than two weeks away

    Speaking on Sunday, Elliott said the photo dated back to 'some time ago' and denied suggestions his actions had been 'callous', stressing that he was caught off-guard after receiving a phone call.

    'I would like to address the speculation and rumours that have been rife since an old photo of me began circulating on social media yesterday afternoon,' he wrote in a statement.

    'Firstly, I apologise profoundly for any offence that this photo has caused and can categorically state that the welfare of each and every horse under my care is paramount and has been central to the success that we have enjoyed here at Cullentra.

    'The photo in question was taken some time ago and occurred after a horse had died of an apparent heart attack on the gallops. 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.

    'At what was a sad time, which it is when any horse under my care passes away, my initial reaction was to get the body removed from where it was positioned.

    'I was standing over the horse waiting to help with the removal of the body, in the course of which, to my memory I received a call and, without thinking, I sat down to take it. Hearing a shout from one of my team, I gestured to wait until I was finished.'

    Elliott hit out at 'falsehoods and misinformation' around the picture on social media but said he put horse welfare first and would continue to co-operate with the investigation.

    'Such background information may seem trivial at this time and will not allay the concerns of many people both within and outside the world of horse racing,' he added.

    'However, I feel it is important to provide people with some context surrounding this photo. To the racing community, to anyone who has worked with and loves horses and to anyone offended by this image I cannot apologise enough.

    '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.

    'Again I apologise for any offence caused and ask people to consider this statement as opposed to the various falsehoods and misinformation being circulated on social media.'

    Betting firm Betfair were the first to act on Monday, removing Elliott as an ambassador and Elliott's yard sponsor eCOMM Merchant Solutions moved to terminate their contract.

    After the Elliott picture emerged, amateur jockey Rob James was forced to apologise for his 'wholly inappropriate and disrespectful' actions after a video of him sitting on a dead horse surfaced on social media.

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