Gordon Elliott, the trainer of the double Grand National winner Tiger Roll, said on Saturday night that he is “cooperating fully” with an investigation by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board into a disputed image circulating on social media which appeared to show him posing on top of a dead horse on his gallops.
The image, which circulated widely on Twitter on Saturday evening, shows signs of having been digitally altered according to a number of users who responded to a tweet from the IHRB at 7.29pm on Saturday. The board said it was “aware of an image circulating on social media”, adding that “the matter is under investigation”.
A few hours later, Elliott also acknowledged the image was being widely shared, saying in a tweet: “I’m aware of a photo in circulation on social media. The IHRB have been in contact with me regarding this photo and I will be cooperating fully with their investigation.”
The IHRB has yet to add to its initial statement on Saturday evening, but the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has urged its Irish counterpart to conduct as rapid an investigation as possible into the “shocking” image. “We hope the Irish authorities will quickly confirm how this shocking picture originated,” a BHA spokesperson said on Sunday afternoon.
“Respect for horses is a fundamental value of our sport, contrary to the impression in this picture,” they added. “The IHRB have assured us that the investigation will be carried out as quickly as possible and that they will keep us informed as more information becomes available.”
The image is circulating just over two weeks before Elliott is due to send a large team of horses, including several favourites, to the four-day Cheltenham Festival. Elliott was the top trainer at the meeting in 2017 and 2018.
Elliott is also due to saddle Tiger Roll, the winner of the Grand National in 2018 and 2019, in the Festival’s Cross-Country Chase, before a possible attempt on 10 April to emulate the legendary Red Rum by winning a third Grand National.