Leading owners Gigginstown stand by Gordon Elliott after 'unacceptable' photo
Michael and Eddie O'Leary, Gordon Elliott's leading owners through their Gigginstown House Stud operation, have given their backing to Elliott in the wake of the controversy over the photo of the trainer sitting on a dead horse.
The O'Learys said on Monday morning that they will continue to support the trainer despite being "deeply disappointed by the unacceptable photo which appeared on social media over the weekend".
The Gigginstown House Stud silks have been carried to victory by Elliott's Tiger Roll in the 2018 and 2019 Grand Nationals, as well as Don Cossack in the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Gigginstown house many of their flagship horses with Elliott, including Champion Hurdle hope Abacadabras, Stayers' Hurdle outsider Fury Road, Albert Bartlett fancy Torygraph and Irish Gold Cup winner Delta Work.
The statement by Michael O'Leary, released to the Racing Post, said: "Eddie and I were deeply disappointed by the unacceptable photo which appeared on social media over the weekend. The care and welfare of all our animals comes first with all our trainers.
"Sadly, from time to time, our horses suffer injuries and/or fatalities and we expect all such cases to be treated with the care and attention they deserve. We have always found that animal welfare comes first, second and third at Cullentra.
"From the facilities, to the brilliant team of people led by Gordon, our horses are trained with no expense spared for their development, welfare and care. We accept that this photograph was a grievous but momentary lapse of judgement by Gordon, and not in keeping with our 15-year experience of his concern for and attention to the welfare of our horses.
"We all make mistakes, and what is important is that we learn from them and ensure we do not repeat them. We accept Gordon's sincere, profound and unreserved apology and we will continue to support him and his team at Cullentra, as they work to recover from this deeply regrettable incident."
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Noel and Valerie Moran, who have similarly emerged as hugely influential patrons of Elliott, are waiting on the verdict of the formal inquiry before speaking on their position.
Noel Moran, whose team with Elliott includes Cheltenham Festival market leaders Zanahiyr and Grand Roi, said on Monday: "Myself and my wife Valerie will await the official outcome of the investigation by the IHRB before making any further comment on the matter."
Betfair sever ties
Leading bookmaker Betfair have discontinued their association with Elliott as an ambassador.
Betfair on Monday morning released a statement saying: "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."
Elliott has been associated with Betfair since 2016, regularly posting blogs about his runners on their website and taking part in promotional videos.
The firm, part of a global betting giant along with Paddy Power under the banner of Flutter Entertainment, also employs other big names such as Paul Nicholls, Ryan Moore and Joseph O'Brien in ambassadorial roles.
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