Gigginstown House Stud have said they are “deeply disappointed” by the shocking photo that emerged on Saturday of Gordon Elliott sitting on a horse that had died on his gallops, but have vowed to support the trainer and accept the photo “was a grievous but momentary lapse of judgement”.
While there were initial doubts about the authenticity of a photograph which circulated on social media on Saturday, Elliott confirmed in a statement late on Sunday evening that the image was genuine.
The Cullentra handler said in his statement that he “cannot apologise enough”, and that he wanted to “apologise profoundly for any offence that this photo has caused”, while seeking to explain the context of events that led to the image.
The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has launched a full investigation, and a spokesman said on Monday that the matter will be dealt with “as quickly as possible”.
Gigginstown House Stud has been one of Elliott's biggest supporters, with the pair most notably combining to win two Randox Grand Nationals at Aintree with Tiger Roll, and also the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup with Don Cossack.
Michael O'Leary, owner of Gigginstown House Stud, released a statement on Monday saying: “Eddie and I were deeply disappointed by the unacceptable photo which appeared on social media over the weekend. The care and welfare of all our animals comes first with all our trainers. Sadly, from time to time, our horses suffer injuries and/or fatalities and we expect all such cases to be treated with the care and attention they deserve.
“We have always found that animal welfare comes first, second and third at Cullentra. From the facilities, to the brilliant team of people led by Gordon, our horses are trained with no expense spared for their development, welfare and care.
“We accept that this photograph was a grievous but momentary lapse of judgement by Gordon, and not in keeping with our 15-year experience of his concern for and attention to the welfare of our horses. We all make mistakes, and what is important is that we learn from them and ensure we do not repeat them. We accept Gordon’s sincere, profound and unreserved apology and we will continue to support him and his team at Cullentra, as they work to recover from this deeply regrettable incident.”
Leading owners Cheveley Park Stud are awaiting the official outcome of the investigation by the IHRB, and shared a statement on their Twitter page on Monday morning.
We are truly horrified and dismayed by the photograph doing the rounds on social media however, we will await the official outcome of the investigation by the IHRB, which we trust will be swift, before making any further comment/decisions.— Cheveley Park Stud (@CPStudOfficial) March 1, 2021
The hugely successful breeders and owners, more renowned for their success on the Flat, have ramped up their interest in National Hunt racing in recent years and have already enjoyed multiple big-race winners at the Cheltenham Festival.
The most notable is Envoi Allen, arguably the most exciting horse in Elliott’s yard following back-to-back Festival wins in the Champion Bumper and the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in his unbeaten career to date.
The seven-year-old is a hot favourite to win at Cheltenham for a third time in the Marsh Novices’ Chase on March 18.
The statement from Cheveley Park Stud, shared on their Twitter page on Monday morning, said: "We are truly horrified and dismayed by the photograph doing the rounds on social media however, we will await the official outcome of the investigation by the IHRB, which we trust will be swift, before making any further comment/decisions."
Other horses Cheveley Park currently have in training with Elliott include Supreme Novices’ Hurdle contender Ballyadam, unbeaten juvenile hurdler Quilixios and leading Champion Bumper contender Sir Gerhard.
Following confirmation from Gordon Elliott that an image circulating of him on social media over the weekend is authentic, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today issued the following statement:
"The BHA is appalled by the image that appeared this weekend. We expect all those in our sport to demonstrate respect for horses, on the racecourse, in the training yard, on the gallops, and wherever they have horses in their care. People who work in our industry believe their values – of caring for and respecting our horses – have been deeply undermined by this behaviour. On their behalf, and on behalf of all horse-lovers, we say unequivocally that British horseracing finds this totally unacceptable.
"The BHA is considering its own regulatory options, recognising that the Irish authorities license Mr Elliott and are carrying out their own investigation."
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