A top racehorse trainer in Ireland has apologized for a viral photo showing him sitting on a dead horse that has led to a probe by the country’s Horseracing Regulatory Board.
Gordon Elliott, a renowned trainer who’s won the Grand National three times, is shown in the photo sitting on the horse while on the phone and flashing a peace sign. It’s captioned “New work rider this morning.”
On Sunday, Elliott posted a statement on Twitter apologizing for the snap, saying it was taken “some time ago.”
“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,” Elliott wrote, referring to his farm.
“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 said he was standing over the horse, waiting to help with the removal of its body, when he received a call and “without thinking… sat down to take it.”
“Such background information may seem trivial at this time and will not allay the concerns of many people both within and outside the world of horse racing. However, I feel it is important to provide people with some context surrounding this photo,” the trainer’s statement continued.
“To the racing community, to anyone who has worked with and loves horses and to anyone offended by this image I cannot apologise enough.”
Elliott, 43, said in the statement he is extending his “full cooperation” to the IHRB for their investigation, which the group wants to deal with “as quickly as possible,” a spokesman told BBC previously.
The British Horse Authority said in a statement they were “appalled” by the photo and were considering their “own regulatory options.
“People who work in our industry believe their values — of caring for and respecting our horses — have been deeply undermined by this behaviour,” the BHA said.
“On their behalf, and on behalf of all horse-lovers, we say loudly that British horseracing finds this totally unacceptable.”
Betfair, where Elliott served as an ambassador, has cut ties with the trainer, they told BBC.
“While we recognise that Gordon deeply regrets and apologised unreservedly for his poor judgement, his actions are completely at odds with the values of the Betfair brand and that of our employees,” a spokesperson for the betting company told the outlet.
“With that in mind, we have decided to discontinue our association with Gordon with immediate effect.”
With Post Wires