The chair of the British racing Independent Judicial Panel today (16 February) has approved a BHA application for an interim suspension of Mark’s training licence, “following the emergence over the weekend of a video showing him striking a horse with what appears to be a branch”.
The suspension means Mark will be unable to race, in Britain or abroad, while investigations into the incident continue.
“The trainer has admitted the individual involved in the video was him, has apologised for his actions and agreed to the imposition of an interim suspension,” a BHA statement said.
“On Sunday [13 February] the BHA condemned the video and confirmed that it was looking into the incident. The BHA will provide further updates as necessary in due course, though will not be able to comment on the detail of the investigation itself until it is concluded.
“The interim suspension has been approved on the basis that it can be reviewed at a later date if necessary, on application by either party.”
The FEI is among the organisations that have commented on the video, which is said to have been recorded in a training clinic in 2020, a year after Mark’s second retirement from eventing.
“The FEI is disappointed and alarmed by the images in the video,” a spokesman said.
“This is not acceptable behaviour and it goes against everything we stand for and the values we encourage and expect from all horsemen and horsewomen.
“Every individual in the equestrian community has a responsibility and a duty to safeguard and protect the horses in their care and embrace a zero-tolerance attitude when it comes to any form of equine abuse and mistreatment. Any violation of that important responsibility cannot be overlooked or condoned, and the FEI will investigate whenever sporting and training methods are in clear disregard of the health and welfare of our most valued partner, the horse.
“The foundations of our sport rest on our partnership with the horse, and it is up to all equestrians to uphold and respect this core principle in the pursuit of sport and leisure riding.”
Double Olympic eventing champion turned racehorse trainer Mark said in a statement: “I wholeheartedly apologise to the horse and all involved for my actions in this video clip.
“One of the main things I preach is about establishing a mutual respect between horse and rider and that patience and kindness is the best way to get results.
“I believe this is one of the main attributes along with a great empathy with animals that has enabled me to have a long and successful career in eventing.
“I am very disappointed in myself that I did not adhere to that in this case.”
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