Gordon Elliott loses yard sponsor over picture of Irish trainer sitting on dead horse

Gordon Elliott and Ruby Walsh at Cheltenham racecourse in 2018

Gordon Elliott has had his yard sponsor terminated in light of the controversy surrounding the picture of the Grand National winning trainer sitting on a dead horse.

Prominent owners Noel and Valerie Moran’s company eCOMM Merchant Solutions has ended the partnership with the Irish trainer, whose runners are currently banned for an interim period by the British Horseracing Authority while he is investigated by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board.

The Morans, founders of eCOMM, also have a powerful string at Elliott’s County Meath stables – including JCB Triumph Hurdle market leader Zanahiyr.

A statement explained that the decision was made due to “recent events”, while Elliott was also hit when owners Cheveley Park Stud confirmed that they are moving their horses – including the unbeaten Envoi Allen, and favourite to win again at this month’s Cheltenham Festival.

READ MORE: Gordon Elliott: Grand National winning trainer explains picture with dead horse

Gigginstown House Stud, owners of dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll, have decided to keep many of their horses at Elliott’s Cullentra yard – despite what they described as an “unacceptable” photograph.

A Twitter post on eCOMM 365 read: “eCOMM Merchant Solutions has terminated its sponsorship contract with Gordon Elliott due to recent events.”

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Former trainer James Given, who is now the BHA’s Director of Equine Health and Welfare, believes the ruling body made the correct decision in deciding to temporarily suspend Elliott from making entries in Britain.

“These are unprecedent times,” Given told Sky Sports Racing.

“Gordon, at the moment, holds more entries in Britain than almost any other trainer – and so we felt it was appropriate to take the action that we have, while we wait for the Irish to complete their process.”

When asked if Elliott-trained horses would be allowed to run in Britain if the IHRB concludes his actions do not merit a suspension, Given added: “I think the thing to do is let the Irish process work its way through – I don’t want to be speculating what they may come up with.

“We’ll let them carry out their due process and we’ll then react to that.”

While Cheveley Park have already removed the horses they have in training with Elliott to ensure they can run at the Cheltenham Festival, it remains unclear as to whether other owners will follow suit.

There have been suggestions another person could take over Elliott’s licence at Cullentra Stables, allowing the remaining horses to stay in the yard and potentially run at the Festival.

Given did not want to be drawn on whether such a plan was appropriate or feasible, but hopes a solution can be found which allows the equine stars currently at Cullentra to line up.

He said: “Our intention isn’t to stop the horses running – we want to see the best horses turn up at Cheltenham.

“I think we will judge each situation when we’re faced with it.”

From a personal point of view, Given spoke of his anger and frustration – describing Elliott’s actions as “selfish” and “callous”.

“I was shocked, like I’m sure everyone else was, but then anger and frustration were the emotions that took over for me,” said Given.

“So many people work so hard in this sport, to project a good image of the sport, and we were thoroughly let down by a selfish, callous action like that.

“I really feel like I’ve got a foot in two camps still. One thing that has struck me since coming to the BHA is just how many people absolutely love racing, love the horses and want the best for racing.

“I was a consumer of the BHA for a couple of decades or more and didn’t come across these people. But that sense of anger and frustration is just rife across the BHA, as it is across all the training communities, and everyone who loves their horses.

“I’ve had friends from Ireland calling me, expressing their frustration. It’s not just a British thing.

“We’ve all been let down by these stupid actions.”

PA contributed to this report

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