Horse Racing trainers reaction to Gordon Elliott pictured sitting on dead horse
Irish trainer has been banned from racing in Britain
THE horse racing community was left shocked this week after an image emerged on social media of Grand National-winning trainer Gordon Elliott sitting on a dead horse.
The 43-year-old, who is licensed in Ireland, issued an apology on Monday.
Since then, the British Horseracing Authority has banned Elliott from racing horses in Britain until the investigation with the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has concluded.
The incident comes less than two weeks before the Cheltenham Festival, where Elliott was expected to have a strong line-up in the star-studded event.
It also comes just a month before the Grand National at Aintree.
Trainer Jo Davis, who is based in Highworth, was upset to see the photo on social media and was quick to explain how the well-being and safety of horses is paramount for the sport.
She said: “I found the photo distasteful and upsetting and want the general public to know that it’s not how we view horses.
“Our horses are our family and every one of them has their own personality.
“We try really hard to show how much the horses are cared for and we do every little thing to make sure they’re looked after.
“We have to get on with it and do the best for our horses and we need to keep proving that the horses are our world.
“I get up at 5am every morning for feeding, galloping, home schooling and sorting out runners and entries, but the most important thing is the horse.”
Davis explained how it was a huge error of judgement from Elliott and racing needs to talk about the positives in the sport.
She said: “I think racing desperately needs to shout about the care and welfare about the horses because we do everything we can to look after them.
“It’s hard because us smaller trainers work so hard to promote horse welfare and I don’t know what the general consensus is, but it was a stupid thing to do.”
Meanwhile Lambourn trainer Jamie Snowden added: “The picture is horrid, and in no way a reflection of how racehorses are looked after, as respect for horses is a fundamental value of our sport, and our horses are given the utmost care, attention and love.”
Harry Whittington, who trains from his Sparsholt yard, said: “My initial reaction when I saw the image on social media on Saturday night was total shock, and my first thought was - I hope it’s fake! And if it’s not it’s utterly wrong.
“Unfortunately this is likely to have a far reaching impact on the sport for some time and I think I speak for the rest of the racing community in feeling totally let down.
“I think it is important to get on top of this as soon as possible and there should be no delay,” Whittington said. “Gordon Elliot has admitted to it and the authorities need to swiftly decide an appropriate punishment.”
Whittington explained how the horse welfare is the most important thing and believes racing needs to remain united.
“Racing and, more importantly, horses have brought the most incredible joy to my life, to my family and the team I work with.
“So that we can look forwards and not back, there is a positive opportunity here to bring horse welfare right to the forefront of the sport, more than ever before, and racing should unite in their response to this issue by doing just that.”
Racing was thrown into more controversy as amateur Irish jockey Rob James was filmed sitting on a dead horse.
James, who rode the Elliott-trained Milan Native to victory at the Cheltenham Festival last year, said he was “heartbroken” at the “damage” he had caused.
The fallout continues for Elliott, who has lost sponsorship deals with the likes of Betfair and eCOMM Merchant Solutions.
Elsewhere, Newmarket-based Cheveley Park Stud moved eight Elliott-trained horses to the yards of Henry de Bromhead and Willie Mullins, including Festival favourite Envoi Allen.