Trainer Gordon Elliott saw his career cast into doubt on this day in 2021 after a picture emerged of him sitting on a dead horse.

The distasteful image was shared on social media and quickly confirmed as genuine by Elliott, who apologised “profoundly for any offence this photo has caused”.

Elliott, who had guided Tiger Roll to successive Grand National wins in 2018 and 2019, was immediately subjected to a full investigation by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board. The British Horseracing Authority also moved to act, effectively banning him from racing horses in its jurisdiction until the conclusion of the IHRB probe.

The organisation issued a strongly worded statement on the matter, noting: “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.

Gordon Elliott
Gordon Elliott apologised for his “grievous” lapse in judgement (Damien Eagers/PA)

“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 loudly that British horseracing finds this totally unacceptable.”

Bookmakers Betfair ended Elliott’s role as an ambassador but he received the support of the horse’s owners – Gigginstown House Stud. Owner Michael O’Leary accepted Elliott was sorry for “a grievous but momentary lapse of judgement” and opted to continue working with him.

A hearing on March 5 led to a 12-month suspension, with half of the term suspended, and a fine of 15,000 euros. Elliott returned to the racecourse at Punchestown in September, telling reporters: “It’s great to be back racing and seeing faces that I haven’t seen in a long time.

“I have really missed coming racing over the last few months, so I’m looking forward to getting back into that routine again.”