Leading horse racing trainer Gordon Elliott will be banned for more than a year over ‘horrendous and horrific’ picture of him sat on a dead horse, talkSPORT told

Gordon Elliott has caused immense damage to the sport of horse racing and is likely to be banned for at least a year.

That is what talkSPORT has been told after a shocking picture emerged of the leading Irish trainer sat astride a dead horse while on a mobile phone.

The photo has sparked a furious backlash and Elliott is facing a lengthy ban

The incident is being investigated by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, while the British Horseracing Authority says it is ‘appalled’ by the image and is considering its own regulatory options.

Elliott – who has issued an apology and vowed to give the investigation his full cooperation– is one of racing’s most prominent trainers and has enjoyed multiple Grand National wins.

He first won it with Silver Birch in 2007 – becoming the youngest trainer ever to claim the Aintree showpiece – and led Tiger Roll to successive National wins in 2018 and 2019.

The 48-year-old has also trained 32 Cheltenham winners.

Elliott’s actions have sparked fury far beyond racing circles and The Times’ racing editor, Rob Wright, expects him to have his training licence taken away for some time.

“I think he will be banned for certainly over a year and I would say a couple of years wouldn’t be unreasonable,” Wright said, speaking to talkSPORT.

“I don’t say that lightly. We all do make mistakes but that isn’t a mistake that a trainer can make. It just isn’t.

“I would suspect his licence to be suspended at the very least while the investigation is pending.

“I’ll be amazed if he is at Cheltenham in two weeks’ time. I don’t think he should be. 

“I can’t think of anybody else in racing, let alone a high profile trainer, even as a momentary lapse, would leap astride a dead horse and pose for a photograph. It is just unthinkable.”

Elliott has apologised after confirming the photo is real

Leading bookmakers Betfair have moved quickly to distance themseves from Elliott, ditching him as an ambassador.

But big-name owner Michael O’Leary, who campaigns his horses under the Gigginstown House Stud banner, has announced he will continue to support Elliott.

O’Leary described the incident as a ‘grievous but momentary lapse of judgement’ and intends to maintain his association with the County Meath handler.

“I’m surprised that Michael O’Leary, his biggest owner, is standing by him. If I was an owner, there would be another trainer’s box at the yard taking it away,” continued Wright.

“I can’t tell you how much damage that image is going to cause to horse racing. I’m absolutely horrified by it.

“For anybody who loves horse racing, like I do, the defence for horse racing taking place at all is that horses are looked after to incredibly high standards and that is undoubtedly the case in every yard I have ever been to.

“In future, whenever you make that defence, you are going to have that picture thrown back at you by people who want to see racing banned.”

Ryanair boss O’Leary is one of racing’s most high-profile and successful owners and has voiced his support for Elliott
Like Wright, talkSPORT’s racing correspondent, Rupert Bell, was horrified by Elliott’s actions.

“This is a shocking story,” he reflected.

“When you read the statement there are still more questions than answers. He says he got a phone call and that’s why he ended up sitting on the horse, but he wasn’t just sitting on the horse, he was sitting ACROSS the horse.

“That’s why it just feels horrendous. It’s horrific, there’s no other word for it.

“He’s so high profile in terms of where he is in racing, but he’s brought the sport into disrepute at a horrendous level.

“It beggars belief under any circumstances that you’d want to do what Elliott ended up doing in that photograph. It feels wrong in every sense.

“This is the man who trains in the Premier League, the elite level of jump racing, caught on a dead horse. He trains Tiger Roll, the most popular horse, but his reputation is now tarnished.

“He’s let himself down and he’s let his sport down, big time.

“You just feel other trainers will be absolutely livid with him, shocked, appalled, horrified across Ireland and in this country.”

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