Michael O'Leary stands by Gordon Elliott despite "grievous" lapse in judgement
It's not the first time Michael O'Leary and Gigginstown House Stud have stood by a trainer who was in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Back in 2014, banned substances were discovered at the yard of Tipperary trainer Philip Fenton, who at the time trained some of the Gigginstown Stud horses. O'Leary then said that he had "no reason to doubt his innocence," adding the stipulation that "if it ever did come to light that any Gigginstown horse had been given any prohibited substances, we would not tolerate that."
This time around, Gordon Elliott is on the naughty step, having posed for a photo with a dead racehorse. In a statement, O'Leary admits that Elliott has committed "A grievous but momentary lapse in judgement," adding that they "will continue to support him and his team."
"Hearing a shout from one of my team, I gestured to wait until I was finished."
Meath racehorse trainer Gordon Elliott has provided "context" on the photo of him sitting on a dead horse.https://t.co/rc704gNjL4
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) March 1, 2021
"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 horses 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 the photograph was a grievous but momentary lapse of judgement from 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 profound, sincere 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."
Meanwhile, Cheveley Park Stud, who own a number of Elliott's racehorses including stable star Envoi Allen, will await the outcome of the IHRB investigation before making a decision. Elliott's main sponsor weren't as patient, the bookmaker pulling the plug on their association with the Meath man this morning.
"His actions are completely at odds with the values of the Betfair brand and that of our employees," read their statement.
We are truly horrified and dismayed by the photograph doing the rounds on social media however, we will await the official outcome of the investigation by the IHRB, which we trust will be swift, before making any further comment/decisions.
— Cheveley Park Stud (@CPStudOfficial) March 1, 2021
With Cheltenham only a fortnight away, this storm has come at the worst possible time for the Irishman.