Horse trainer Gordon Elliott has promised to “never again disrespect a horse living or dead” after he was handed a 12-month ban, with six suspended, over a photo of him sitting on a dead horse emerged.
Following an Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board referrals hearing into the image, Elliott was also ordered to pay €15,000 in costs.
In a statement issued late on Sunday evening, Elliott confirmed the image was genuine and apologised “profoundly for any offence that this photo has caused”, while seeking to explain what he said was the “context” of events that led to the picture.
The image was roundly condemned by racing authorities in Britain and Ireland, with the IHRB announcing an immediate investigation and the British Horseracing Authority issuing a temporary suspension on Elliott’s runners until its conclusion.
On Tuesday, leading owners Cheveley Park Stud removed their horses from Elliott, with the unbeaten Envoi Allen one of those to join Henry de Bromhead.
After the IHRB ruling, Elliott issued the following statement:
“I accept my situation and my sanction and am satisfied with my engagement with the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board. It is not an easy job to sit on the panel but 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 to 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.
“Horses are my life. I love them. No one comes into racing for money — it is a hard way to make a living. We are here because we love the horses. Anyone who has visited my stables at Cullentra will see the meticulous care with which we treat our horses. 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.”