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Fri Mar 5, 2021, 02:39 PM

UK Horse Racing: Gordon Elliott handed one-year ban over dead horse photograph

The Guardian
Fri 5 Mar 2021 12.48 EST

The three-time Grand National-winning trainer Gordon Elliott has been banned for a year, six months of which are suspended, by the Irish racing authorities after a photograph of him astride a dead horse on his County Meath gallops was widely circulated on social media this week.

The suspension means that there will be no runners in his name at the upcoming Cheltenham Festival. However, it is being reported that contingency plans are being finalised for another licensed trainer to run Elliott’s yard in his absence. In addition to the suspension, which will take effect from Tuesday, Elliott was also ordered to pay costs of €15,000.

Elliott released a statement on Friday evening, soon after the ban was confirmed by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IRHB). He said: “I accept my situation and my sanction and am satisfied with my engagement with the IRHB. It is not an easy job to sit on the panel but I was dealt with fairly.

Link to this story: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/mar/05/gordon-elliott-handed-one-year-ban-dead-horse-photograph-racing

Scathing editorial on this story from several days ago:

Gordon Elliott's horrific dead horse photo has left the racing world numb with shock

Greg Wood

The viral image may become many people’s abiding image of horse racing, so swift and decisive action must be taken

It is not as bad as it looks, it is worse. The authorities need to act swiftly and decisively

Shock and anger are the abiding emotions in racing this morning, 12 hours after Gordon Elliott’s admission that the horrific image showing him astride a dead horse on his gallops, which had been circulating on social media since Saturday evening, is genuine.

But there is a sense of numbness too – a reluctance to assess not just the scale of the damage that the photograph has already inflicted on racing, but also how much worse it could get over the coming days and weeks.

Even the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) seems stunned into silence by the magnitude of the unfolding PR disaster. Nothing has emerged from the Irish regulator since a brief tweet to say that it was “aware” of the image early on Saturday evening.

In the meantime, the photograph has been around the world a dozen times and been viewed by millions. For some, it will simply reinforce an existing belief that the sport is abusive and cruel. Many more, though, will have had no fixed opinion about racing one way or the other, beyond a sense that if others enjoy it or make a living from it and the horses are well cared for, where’s the harm?

Their minds will recoil from the photograph, as so many did within racing on Saturday and Sunday as we continue to hope against hope that it would prove to be faked. Once seen, it can’t be unseen, and for many it will be their one, abiding image of racing for years to come.

Read the editorial here: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/mar/01/gordon-elliott-horrific-dead-horse-photo-racing-comment

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