British racing bans Gordon Elliott pending dead horse photo investigation

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  • Irish trainer Gordon Elliott will not be allowed to race horses in Britain while Irish authorities investigate a photo of him sitting on a dead horse.

    The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) issued the ban today (1 March) using “powers under its own rules” to refuse horses trained by Mr Elliott to race in Britain, pending consideration of the outcome of the Irish investigation.

    The three-time Grand National-winning trainer was pictured sitting astride a dead horse on the gallops, holding a phone to his ear with a hand raised.

    Mr Elliott admitted the photo was genuine, following speculation, and said he “cannot apologise enough” to the racing community, to anyone who has worked with and loves horses and to anyone offended by the image.

    The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) is investigating. Mr Elliott has said he continues to extend his “full cooperation” in the case.

    “The action taken by the BHA recognises that Mr Elliott is licensed in Ireland, whose regulatory body the IHRB is carrying out its own investigation,” said the BHA statement.

    “However, Mr Elliott has entered horses to race in Britain, from which point the British Rules of Racing apply to him.

    “The decision to refuse to allow horses trained by Mr Elliott to run in Britain is therefore an interim decision which the BHA regards as proportionate in these circumstances.”

    The BHA has said that owners of horses currently trained by Mr Elliott are permitted to transfer them to a different trainer and run them at a British meeting, providing they comply with the relevant rules.

    A timescale on the IHRB investigation has not yet been given and the ban comes two weeks ahead of the start of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival (16-19 March), with just over a month until the Grand National Festival (8-10 April).

    In an earlier statement, the BHA said it is “appalled” by the image.

    “We expect all those in our sport to demonstrate respect for horses, on the racecourse, in the training yard, on the gallops, and wherever they have horses in their care,” it said.. “People who work in our industry believe their values – of caring for and respecting our horses – have been deeply undermined by this behaviour. On their behalf, and on behalf of all horse-lovers, we say loudly that British horseracing finds this totally unacceptable.”

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    Horse Racing Ireland this morning issued a statement that said it “unreservedly condemns disturbing photographs”.

    “This image does not reflect the care, attention and respect that race horses receive, and does a disservice to the thousands of people who look after their horses on a daily basis. Horse Racing Ireland notes and supports the IHRB investigation into the circumstances around the photograph,” it added.

    “From a disciplinary perspective, the matter is in process, so any further comment on the matter or the detail of the case at this time would not be appropriate.”

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