One of Ireland’s most successful racehorse trainers has made a grovelling apology after a picture emerged of him chatting on the phone and smiling while nonchalantly sitting on a dead horse.
Animal welfare people are up in arms and claim the picture is evidence of a callous attitude to horses in the racing industry.
— Animal Welfare Watch (@watch_welfare) February 28, 2021
Gordon Elliott - who has won the Grand National three times - issued a statement in which he said: "I apologise profoundly for any offence that this photo has caused.”
Twitter rapidly filled with memes and comments about the incident and Elliott’s apology.
Elliott, 43, said: "I can categorically state that the welfare of each and every horse under my care is paramount and has been central to the success that we have enjoyed.”
— Gordon Elliott (@gelliott_racing) February 28, 2021
The trainer, who won the race with Tiger Roll in 2018 and 2019, explained that the horse in the photo died of a heart attack while training and he said it was a “sad time”.
— Caolán Mc Aree (@Caolanmcaree) February 28, 2021
Elliott added: "I was standing over the horse waiting to help with the removal of the body, in the course of which, to my memory I received a call and, without thinking, I sat down to take it. Hearing a shout from one of my team, I gestured to wait until I was finished."
An Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board spokesman said: "The investigation is ongoing and will be dealt with as quickly as possible."
The British Horseracing Authority said it was a "shocking image."