Horse trainer Gordon Elliott has been suspended for six months after being pictured sitting on a dead horse.
In a statement, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB), said: “We consider that a suspension of Mr Elliott’s training licence is merited.
“In all of the circumstances of this case, to reflect the seriousness of the offence and the damage to the Irish racing industry, to deter other offences of this nature and having taken into account the mitigating factors we have heard we consider the period should be 12 months however the last six months of this will be suspended.”
Mr Elliott apologised “profoundly” for “any offence that this photo has caused”, insisting that “the welfare of each and every horse under my care is paramount”.
The photo, he said “was taken some time ago and occurred after a horse had died of an apparent heart attack on the gallops.
“I appreciate that an initial viewing of this photo suggests it is a callous and staged photo but nothing could be further from the truth,” he added.
He said he was waiting for the body of the animal to be taken away when he got a phone call and sat down on the horse without thinking.
The image shows him in a pose, holding two fingers out while sitting on the unnamed thoroughbred.
On Monday, the three-time Grand National-winning trainer was suspended from entering horses into races in Britain while Irish authorities finished their investigation.
Elliott, who has trained 32 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, where he has been the top trainer twice, will not compete in this year’s event, starting on 16 March.
His business has suffered financially since the picture emerged, with top owners Cheveley Park Stud moving their high-profile horses away from his yard and bookmakers Betfair ending their relationship with him.
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