A top race horse trainer has been temporarily banned from the sport in Britain after photos of him casually sitting on the carcass of a dead horse went viral in late February. Gordon Elliott, a trainer at Cullentra stables in County Meath, Ireland, posted his apology on social media on Sunday and was handed his suspension on Tuesday.
The British Horseracing Authority announced that the ban would last until the investigation was completed.
"The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) will not allow the Irish trainer Gordon Elliott to race horses in Britain whilst the Irish authorities investigate an image that appeared on social media over the weekend," the BHA said in a statement. "The trainer admitted the photo was genuine and apologised for his actions. The BHA, which regulates racing in Britain, will use powers under its own rules to refuse to allow horses trained by Mr. Elliott to race in Britain pending consideration of the outcome of the Irish investigation."
In his apology, Elliott said that the photo is old and was taken "after a horse had died of an apparent heart attack."
"Firstly, I apologise profoundly for any offence that this photo has caused and can categorically state that the welfare of each and every horse under my care is paramount and has been central to the success that we have enjoyed here at Cullentra," he said in the statement.
"The photo in question was taken some time ago and occurred after a horse had died of an apparent heart attack on the gallops. I appreciate that an initial viewing of this photo suggests it is a callous and staged photo but nothing could be further from the truth."
Elliott then went on to explain why he was caught in an unfortunate pose that made things look a lot more "callous" than they actually were. He claims that he was standing over the dead horse when he got a call on the phone while waiting for assistance in removing the corpse. It was at that moment he sat down and responded to someone from his team.
The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board also released a statement Sunday in response to the circulating photos. The organization has scheduled a hearing on the situation for Friday.
The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board are aware of an image circulating on social media and the matter is under investigation.— IHRB (@ihrb_ie) February 27, 2021
This is not the only major scandal in horse racing this week involving someone sitting on a dead horse. Seriously. An amateur Irish jockey has also apologized after video from 2016 resurfaced of him mounting a dead race horse after it died during a training session.