Irish horse racing trainer Gordon Elliott has been temporarily banned from competition in Britain until an investigation in Ireland that is looking into a photo that surfaced on social media of him sitting on a dead horse concludes.
The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board will hold a referral hearing Friday to hear evidence in the case, but the British Horseracing Authority announced Monday it banned Elliott from competition in Britain, pending the outcome of the investigation.
“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.”
The BHA added that it “is an interim decision which the BHA regards as proportionate in these circumstances.”
Though Elliott is licensed in Ireland, he had entered horses into races in Britain, meaning that the BHA’s rules would apply. The organization said that owners who have horses trained by Elliott “are permitted to transfer them to a different trainer and run them at a British meeting, providing they comply with the relevant rules.”
The BHA said in an earlier statement that it was “appalled” by the photo.
Elliott released a statement Feb. 28 in which he apologized for the incident and said the photo “was taken some time ago” and said it was unintentional.
In the photo, Elliott is seen seated on the apparent corpse of a horse, with a slight smile and gesturing in what looks like a peace sign.
“I was standing over the horse waiting to help with the removal of the body, in the course of which, to my memory I received a call and, without thinking, I sat down to take it,” Elliott said in the statement. “Hearing a shout from one of my team, I gestured to wait until I was finished.”
He went on to say that the welfare of each and every horse under my care is paramount and has been central to the success” he has experienced.
On Monday, Elliott told the Racing Post that it was a “moment of madness that I am going to have to spend the rest of my life paying for and that my staff are suffering for.”
According to the BBC, Elliott is 43 and is one of the sport’s most successful trainers.