ordon Elliott says he will spend the rest of his life paying for an ‘indefensible moment of madness’ after a photo of him sitting on a dead horse sparked outrage in the racing industry and beyond.
The picture, which emerged on Saturday on social media, has been widely criticised and has seen Elliott’s horses banned from running in Britain by the British Horseracing Authority while their Irish counterparts carry out an investigation.
The BHA ban, which comes just two weeks out from the start of the Cheltenham Festival, leaves owners with the option of switching their horses to other trainers in order to compete in Britain, meaning Elliott could face losing a number of his string, though high-profile owner Gigginstown House Stud – whose squad includes dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll – has announced it will stick by the trainer.
“It is indefensible. Whether alive or dead, the horse was entitled to dignity. A moment of madness that I am going to have to spend the rest of my life paying for and that my staff are suffering for.
“I will be punished, I fully understand that. But it absolutely breaks my heart to read and hear people say that 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 know nothing else. Horses are all I have. I came from nothing and built a dream.
“When your world starts crumbling in front of you, it’s a scary place to be. I just hope people can understand how truly sorry I am and find some way to forgive me for what I have done.”
Elliott added that he first became aware of the photo being circulated while at Fairyhouse racecourse on Saturday, when speculation on social media was rife as to whether it was real or had been doctored. However, it was Elliott himself who confirmed the picture’s authenticity.
“My initial reaction was that it couldn’t possibly have been me but then the picture was sent to me and I realised it was,” he added. “It was a few years ago.
“There were a lot of people telling me to say it was photoshopped, but the one thing I’ve always been told in life is that if you start telling lies you will end up telling lies for the rest of your life.
“My heart goes out to all my staff. I know how hard they work. I know that I have not only let them down but that I have let the whole racing industry down too. That is down to my stupidity and I am truly, truly sorry.”