DUBLIN (AP) — Trainer Gordon Elliott’s license was suspended on Friday for one year, with the last six months suspended, for posing for a photo while sitting on a horse that had just died of a heart attack.
Elliott, one of the biggest names in British and Irish racing, caused “serious damage” to the integrity and reputation of the sport, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board said in its decision.
“This committee is of the view that the photograph shows the most appalling bad taste on the part of Mr. Elliott insofar as it demonstrates a complete absence of respect for the horse at a time when it still remains in his charge,” it said.
Elliott was also ordered to pay 15,000 euros ($17,800) in costs.
The Irish board added there was “a sinister aspect to this case,” part of a mystifying “concerted attack” on Elliott seeing as the photo was taken in 2019.
Elliott, a three-time Grand National winner, said he accepted the sanction and was dealt with fairly.
“I am in this situation by my own action and I am not going to dodge away from this,” the Irishman said in a statement. “With my position in the sport I have great privileges and great responsibility. I did not live up to that responsibility.
“I am paying a very heavy price for my error but I have no complaints. It breaks my heart to see the hurt I have caused to my colleagues, family, friends and supporters.
“I was disrespectful to a dead horse, an animal that had been a loyal servant to me and was loved by my staff. I will carry the burden of my transgressions for the rest of my career. I will never again disrespect a horse, living or dead, and I will not tolerate it in others.”
Elliott was temporarily banned by the British Horseracing Authority from entering runners in British races, and owners Cheveley Park Stud moved their horses from his yard.
The BHA said its suspension will remain until Elliott’s ban starts on Tuesday.
“Today’s decision confirms that horses will not be able to run at the Cheltenham Festival or Grand National Festival in the name of Gordon Elliott,” the BHA said.
The Cheltenham Festival is scheduled from March 16, and the Grand National meet starts on April 8.
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