Cheltenham legend Ruby Walsh joins condemnation of disgraced trainer Gordon Elliott

RUBY WALSH is both “very sad” and “embarrassed” for racing as the photograph of trainer Gordon Elliott sitting on a dead horse continues to threaten the sport’s reputation.

Shamed trainer Gordon Elliott faces a disciplinary inquiry on Friday.

The dual Grand National-winning and Cheltenham Festival record-breaking jockey describes the image – posted on Twitter – as “indefensible”.

He became racing’s latest high-profile name to condemn Elliott who will face an Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board disciplinary hearing on Friday.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The trainer has already been temporarily banned from running horses in Britain, including this month’s Cheltenham Festival and next month’s Grand National, until the IHRB announces its sanction.

Gordon Elliott with jockey Rob James who is now subject of an inquiry about offensive online images.

On another shocking day, amateur jockey Rob James, who rode Elliott’s Milan Native to victory at Cheltenham last year, apologised for his “wholly inappropriate and disrespectful” actions after a video of him sitting on a dead horse was posted on social media.

Meanwhile Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, whose Gigginstown House Stud operation has stood by Elliott, says dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll will not line up in next month’s National.

O’Leary and his brother Eddie blamed a “patently unfair” handicap mark, rather than Elliott’s conduct, for pulling out the veteran horse who is still entered in Cheltenham’s cross country race this month.

However, at present, Tiger Roll will not be permitted to run following the BHA’s intervention which is intended to put pressure on the Irish racing regulators to ban the disgraced trainer.

Legendary jockey Ruby Walsh is the latest big name racing figure to condemn trainer Gordon Elliott.

Meanwhile Elliott’s Envoi Allen, unbeaten from 11 starts, has been moved by owners Cheveley Park Stud to trainer Henry de Bromhead, as first revealed in The Yorkshire Post yesterday.

Envoi Allen is one of eight horses to be moved, with Cheveley Park director Richard Thompson saying the stud’s “reputation” was being compromised by the fallout.

“We had to look at the situation in context of where Cheveley sit in the industry and our responsibility to the industry in Britain,” he said. “People love horses and we, as a family, purchased Cheveley Park in 1975, so we’ve been racing and breeding for coming up to 46 years.

“I don’t know what the implications are longer term – I’m not close enough to the centre of the politics of racing and how it works between Britain and Ireland.

“All I know is, with my Cheveley Park Stud hat on, we had to take a decision as a board of directors to disassociate ourselves with Gordon and do the right thing by the stud.”

Yet, while Elliott has described his actions as “indefensible” and “a moment of madness” that he will regret for the rest of his life, the aforementioned Walsh did not hold back with his criticism.

“A picture paints a thousand words, but I think that picture only painted one – and that’s ‘indefensible’,” he said. “When I looked at it, I felt angry, I felt embarrassed for my sport and I felt very sad.

“I was always taught that the duty of care to the animal is as much when it is dead as it is when it is alive – that is the way I was taught to conduct myself, and it’s the way I assumed most people within my sport would conduct themselves.

“It has huge ramifications for the sport, and I feel embarrassed for the sport and I felt very sad when I (saw) that picture that the due care and respect wasn’t given to that horse.

“As a licensed trainer, jockey or an employee of a stable yard, you are representing the horse racing industry – and the onus is on you to act in a manner that is good for the image of racing.”

One retired trainer has privately described this scandal as the biggest to hit racing for decades. Meanwhile the National Trainers Federation is disassociating itself from Elliott.

It said: “Although Mr Elliott is based in Ireland, the NTF – which represents trainers based in Great Britain – wishes the public to be in no doubt that its members distance themselves from the behaviour on display in that image, and want to emphasise their deeply felt values of care, respect and love for the racehorse.

“These values underpin the public’s confidence in the sport, and are indispensable to the future prosperity of all who work in horseracing.”

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.