Trainer Gordon Elliott was this week banned from running horses in Britain in response to a shocking viral photo.
The 42-year-old was pictured sitting on top of a dead horse smiling and making a two-fingered ‘peace’ sign, which has led to various repercussions.
The British Horseracing Authority said Elliott cannot run horses here while an investigation by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) is ongoing.
A BHA spokesperson said: “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.
“In an earlier statement, the BHA said it was appalled by the image which undermined its values of respecting and caring for horses.”
Elliott’s record at the Cheltenham Festival
He has 32 winners to his name at the meeting and was crowned top trainer in 2017 and 2018.
In 2016, he won the feature Cheltenham Gold Cup with Don Cossack, one of the best horses he has trained.
His dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll has won four times the Festival and is part of this year’s team, but he won’t be returning for a historic Aintree hat-trick.
Before he was a trainer, Elliott was a jockey, riding 46 winners before he retired in 2005.
Elliott’s Cheltenham entries for this year
His stable has 104 horses entered at Cheltenham and he would normally send over at least 40.
Some members of the team, owned by Cheveley Park Stud, have already been switched to other trainers so they can definitely run at the meeting.
This was permitted by the British Horseracing Authority.
Among them is Envoi Allen, an unbeaten novice chaser rated as one of the Irish ‘bankers’ at the four-day event.
He will now be prepared for the Marsh Novices’ Chase by Henry de Bromhead.
When will the investigation into Elliott take place
The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board announced it will be considered on Friday.
The IHRB said on Twitter account: “The Referrals Committee of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board is scheduled to convene on Friday 5th March to hear evidence and consider an investigation relating to Mr. Gordon Elliott (Trainer).”
This will lead to the decision about runners at Cheltenham.
What Elliott has said about the photo
“It is indefensible. Whether alive or dead, the horse was entitled to dignity,” he told the Racing Post, in the second public apology he has made since the photo emerged.
“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.”