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'Malicious speculation' - Elliott slams rumours about health of his yard

Gordon Elliott: saddles first runners for 13 days
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Gordon Elliott has hit back at what he describes as "uninformed and malicious speculation" about the health of his horses before his first runners in 13 days at Clonmel on Thursday. 

Roundstone, who finished third in a 3m maiden hurdle at Cork on May 4, was Elliott's last runner and since then rumours have been rife regarding the wellbeing of his string.

Elliott has rubbished reports that his yard has been hit with strangles, the highly contagious respiratory infection, and that is backed up by Irish Horseracing Regulator Board chief veterinary officer Lynn Hillyer.

Elliott said: "As I said last week, we had a few horses run below expectations at Punchestown and the following week. A few of the horses didn’t scope clean and we had some coughing so it was decided to give them an easy few days as missing some time at this time of the year isn’t the end of the world.

"The yard was never shut down and we just felt that the most beneficial course of action for our owners and the horses, many of whom had had a long season, was to give them an easy time of things."

He added: "Contrary to uninformed and malicious speculation there was nothing more to it than that. The yard was never shut down, we were never prevented from running horses and we’re looking forward to getting back racing and having a good summer both over jumps and on the Flat."

Hillyer stressed that Elliott voluntarily stopped his horses running  over the last 13 days and revealed that results from tests taken have shown that the agent responsible for the issue is not Strangles.

Hillyer said: "The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board and Irish Equine Centre have been working closely with Gordon over the last couple of weeks to identify the nature of the respiratory issue which has affected some of his horses.

"While this was under way, Gordon voluntarily stopped horses leaving his yard to race and has worked with his veterinary surgeon to bring the situation under control as rapidly as possible and protect the wider population.

She added: "Results have shown that the agent responsible for the issue is not Strep equi [the medical term for strangles]. The IHRB is therefore in agreement with Gordon that movement of horses from his yard is now appropriate."

Elliott tries to return to normality at Clonmel with three runners, the first of whom is the former Ger Lyons-trained Percy in the 2m rated novice hurdle (5.55).

Last Minute Man will bid to break his duck over hurdles in the 2m maiden hurdle (7.05) under Jack Kennedy, while the once-raced Lady V will be the mount of Lisa O'Neill in the concluding mares' bumper (8.45).

The yard was never shut down, we were never prevented from running horses and we’re looking forward to getting back racing
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