After a picture of the famous Irish racing trainer seated on a dead horse spread on Twitter, online gambling operator Betfair broke ties with Gordon Elliott.
The photo of the trainer sitting on the horse, which died of a heart attack, is said to be several years old and was first shared on social media on Saturday.
BHA and HRI condemn event
Despite Elliott’s apologies – he says he was interrupted by a phone call while waiting for the horse to be released from the gallops – Betfair, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), and Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) have both condemned the event.
In an official statement Betfair said: “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.
“With that in mind, we have decided to discontinue our association with Gordon with immediate effect.”
An official inquiry
Elliott has since confirmed that he would comply with an official inquiry initiated by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB), but the BHA has advised Irish officials to move urgently because the Cheltenham festival is just a month away – an affair that Elliott attends and competes in on a daily basis.
The BHA stated: “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.”
“Horse Racing Ireland unreservedly condemns the disturbing photograph that appeared on social media at the weekend,” HRI said, echoing its British counterparts.
“This image does not reflect the care, attention and respect that race horses receive, and does a disservice to the thousands of people who look after their horses on a daily basis. Horse Racing Ireland notes and supports the IHRB investigation into the circumstances around the photograph.
“From a disciplinary perspective, the matter is in process, so any further comment on the matter or the detail of the case at this time would not be appropriate.”
Horse racing business
Despite distancing itself from the trainer, Betfair continues to have a major role in the horse racing business.
In the terms of a deal between Flutter Entertainment – the owner of the operator and fellow sportsbook Paddy Power – and the free-to-air broadcaster, the corporation will sponsor ITV Racing’s The Opening Show.