Disgraced Irish trainer Gordon Elliott out of luck at Punchestown as Oh Purple Reign finishes 12th in his first runner since returning from suspension for sitting on a dead horse
- Gordon Elliot was banned by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board for a year
- Pictures emerged of the 43-year-old jumps trainer sitting on a dead horse
- The last six months of his ban were suspended and he has his license back
- His first runner back, Oh Purple Reign at Punchestown, only finished 12th
Irish trainer Gordon Elliott was out of luck at Punchestown with his first runner since returning from suspension for sitting on a dead horse.
The leading trainer, 43, was banned for 12 months, with half of that punishment suspended, after an image of him sitting on a dead horse was widely circulated on social media in March.
Elliott was also ordered to pay costs of E15,000 – with the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board stating the punishment reflected ‘the seriousness of the offence and the damage to the Irish racing industry’ after the image provoked huge public outcry.
Gordon Elliott was banned for 12 months – 6 months suspended – after this image of him sitting on a dead horse was widely circulated on social media in March
Elliott was in attendance at Punchestown on Tuesday but his first runner back failed to perform
After serving a ban of six months, during which time Denise Foster took temporary control of Cullentra stables, Elliott was free to begin making entries again from last Thursday – initially making five for Punchestown’s Flat fixture.
But he declared only two runners – and with third reserve Alice Kitty failing to make the cut in race six, his solitary representative on Tuesday’s card was recent winner Oh Purple Reign in the Donate To The Coast To The Curragh Cycle In Honour Of Pat Smullen Handicap.
Ridden by Declan McDonogh, the four-year-old was the 9-2 second-favourite to follow up his Gowran Park victory of 13 days earlier, but was struggling towards the rear turning for home and ultimately beat just two rivals in 12th place behind 14-1 winner Khafaaq.
Elliott, who was in attendance at Punchestown, is set to saddle four runners on Wednesday’s National Hunt card at Sligo.
Elliott (right) speaks with jockey Declan McDonogh during the meet on Tuesday afternoon
He said: ‘It’s great to be back racing and seeing faces that I haven’t seen in a long time.
‘I would have obviously preferred if the horse ran a bit better, but it’s nice to be back. I have really missed coming racing over the last few months, so I’m looking forward to getting back into that routine again.’
Before Tuesday’s meet, Elliott presented himself as someone who has learned from a torrid experience.
Elliott has presented himself as someone who has learned from a torrid experience
Speaking to Racing TV, he said: ‘You think you’re thick-skinned until you see something like this.
‘It was terrible — I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life. I apologised to everyone for what I did — but it was my fault and the blame stops with me.
‘All I want to do is put it behind me.’
The boss of one of Britain’s leading equine welfare organisations has warned that Elliott ‘still has a steep mountain to climb’ to convince some people he should be part of the racing world.
He had his license returned on Thursday and he can now start making entries again
Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare, said: ‘The whole justification for horse sport is we look after our horses responsibly and the image portrayed was certainly not one of responsibility.
‘For him to come back, it is all about building his social licence — his personal social licence to be a trainer but more broadly because what he does reflects on racing and horse sport more broadly.
‘Social licence is all about doing the right thing by our horses. Obviously, this was a tragic example of where this couldn’t have been further from the truth. Clearly, he has a much steeper mountain to climb to get back to where some people think he should be part of racing.