The British Horseracing Authority will not allow Gordon Elliott to send any runners to Britain while the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board continues to investigate the trainer following the release of a photograph that shows him sitting on a dead horse on his gallops.
It is a highly unusual move for the BHA, which would under normal circumstances simply reciprocate any disqualification of someone licensed in another country following the outcome of an enquiry into malpractice.
His temporary ban comes at a crucial time in the National Hunt season, two weeks before the start of the Cheltenham Festival with Aintree’s Grand National meeting the following month.
A statement released on Monday evening said: “The BHA 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.
“The action taken by the BHA recognises that Mr Elliott is licensed in Ireland, whose regulatory body, the IHRB, is carrying out its own investigation.
“However, Mr Elliott has entered horses to race in Britain, from which point the British Rules of Racing apply to him.
“The decision to refuse to allow horses trained by Mr Elliott to run in Britain is therefore an interim decision which the BHA regards as proportionate in these circumstances.”
The chorus of disgust and disapproval regarding Elliott’s behaviour has been widespread from the British and Irish racing communities and indeed further afield.
On Tuesday morning the Racehorse Owners Association released a statement supporting the BHA’s temporary ban on Elliott-trained horses from competing in Britain.
The statement read: “Many owners have been in touch following the appearance of an image of Gordon Elliott on social media.
“Owners expect their horses to be treated with the utmost compassion, care and respect; be that before, during or after their careers. Owners expect those values to be upheld, at all times, when placing their horse with a trainer and their staff.
“The confidence of owners and all those who watch and engage with our sport throughout the world is underpinned by the principle that the welfare of the horse is paramount and sacrosanct to all those who earn their living from looking after and caring for horses.
“The ROA supports fully the interim decision taken by the BHA to suspend any horses trained by Mr Elliott to race in Britain whilst the IHRB continues with its own investigation.”
Gordon Elliott’s County Meath stable houses a number of leading contenders for the big races at the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree in the coming weeks.
They include dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll, who is set to bid for a historic third win next month. The horse’s owner, Michael O’Leary (racing as Gigginstown House Stud), labelled Elliott’s actions “unacceptable” in a letter released to the Racing Post but stated he had accepted his apology and would continue to support the trainer.