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BHA welfare chief: it is our intention to get the best horses to Cheltenham

Regulator says horses currently based with Gordon Elliott should be able to run

A number of horses currently trained by Gordon Elliott hold Cheltenham Festival entries
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Gordon Elliott's suspension from having runners in Britain is unlikely to impact horses currently housed in his yard running at the Cheltenham Festival after the BHA said on Wednesday that "our intention isn't to stop horses running".

On Monday, a temporary ban was placed on Elliott by the BHA stopping him from having runners in Britain until after an investigation is completed by the IHRB in reaction to the disturbing image of the trainer sitting on a dead horse, which the BHA labelled "totally unacceptable".

A referrals committee hearing into the case is due to be heard on Friday, although leading owners Cheveley Park Stud have already removed horses from Elliott, including superstar and Marsh Novices' Chase favourite Envoi Allen, who has joined Henry de Bromhead.

James Given, the BHA's director of equine health and welfare, said on Wednesday that the authority would wait to see the conclusions of the IHRB hearing, but added the desire was not to punish the horses or their owners in any decision it made regarding Elliott.

"Our intention isn't to stop horses running, we want to see the best horses run at Cheltenham," he said. "I think we will judge each situation as we are faced with it but it is our intention to try to get the best horses racing at Cheltenham. 

"At the moment it's only a temporary sanction depending on what the Irish authorities come up with. There may well be an appeal process that may delay things again, but that said it's our intention to get the best horses racing at the festivals so we'll take each position when it comes along."

James Given: "Our intention isn't to stop horses running"

Elliott, along with amateur Rob James, who was seen jumping on a dead horse in a video circulated on social media, has been condemned across racing and told the Racing Post in an exclusive interview on Monday that it was "a moment of madness that I am going to have to spend the rest of my life paying for".

Speaking to Sky Sports Racing, Given said the initial shock of the image had given way to feelings of anger and frustration at Elliott's actions, adding that the trainer would likely face a stiff penalty if he had been licensed in Britain.

He said: "I was shocked, like everyone else, then anger and frustration were the emotions that took over for me. So many people work so hard in this sport to project a good image and we were thoroughly let down by a selfish, callous action like that. 

"One would imagine there would be a strong sanction taken [if he was licensed by the BHA] but I'm not going to speculate."


More on the Gordon Elliott story:

Noel Moran: rumours our horses have left Gordon Elliott are totally untrue

Gordon Elliott: 'I will spend my life paying for indefensible moment of madness'

Gordon Elliott barred from having runners in Britain while image inquiry goes on

Leading owners Gigginstown stand by Gordon Elliott after 'unacceptable' photo

Comment: the tragedy of these images is they have given cause to doubt racing's sincerity (Members' Club)

Comment: majority of horse people have been done a disservice by shocking images (Members' Club)


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There may well be an appeal process that may delay things again, but that said it's our intention to get the best horses racing at the festivals
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