Gordon Elliott hits back at ‘malicious’ strangles rumours

'The yard was never shut down. We were never prevented from running horses'

Gordon Elliott: “Contrary to uninformed and malicious speculation there was nothing more to it than that. The yard was never shut down.”

Gordon Elliott: “Contrary to uninformed and malicious speculation there was nothing more to it than that. The yard was never shut down.”

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Top trainer Gordon Elliott has slammed “uninformed and malicious speculation” about illness in his stables and is preparing to have his first runners in almost two weeks at Clonmel on Thursday.

The Grand National and Gold Cup winning trainer hasn’t had any runners for 12 days and reported last week that a number of his horses had coughed and not scoped clean after the Punchestown festival.

However, persistent rumours about the health of Elliott’s horses increased has prompted the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s chief veterinary officer to say today that test results on the respiratory issues affecting them indicated the issue is not strangles.

That is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract of horses causing enlargement of the lymph nodes of the throat which can impair breathing.

The IHRB’s senior vet, Lynn Hillyer, said on Wednesday: “The IHRB and the Irish Equine Centre have been working closely with Gordon over the last couple of weeks to identify the nature of the respiratory issue which has affected some of his horses.

“While this was underway Gordon voluntarily stopped horses leaving his yard to race and has worked with his veterinary surgeon to bring the situation under control as rapidly as possible and protect the wider population.

“Results have shown that the agent responsible for the issue is not Strep.equi subspecies equi (strangles.) The IHRB is therefore in agreement with Gordon that movement of horses from his yard is now appropriate.”

Elliott, who was beaten for the trainers championship by Willie Mullins in the very last week of the season at Punchestown, plans to have three runners at Clonmel. Clearly upset at rumours within racing about the reason for his lack of runners over the last dozen days, Elliott said on Wendesday: “As I said last week we had a few horses run below expectations at Punchestown and the following week.

“A few of the horses didn’t scope clean and we had some coughing so it was decided to give them an easy few days as missing some time at this time of the year isn’t the end of the world.

“The yard was never shut down and we just felt that the most beneficial course of action for our owners and the horses, many of whom had had a long season, was to give them an easy time of things.

“Contrary to uninformed and malicious speculation there was nothing more to it than that. The yard was never shut down. We were never prevented from running horses and we’re looking forward to getting back racing and having a good summer both over jumps and on the flat.”

Last month Elliott won the Aintree Grand National for the second time in his hugely successful career when Tiger Roll won in Liverpool. Based near Longwood in Co Meath, Elliott was also leading trainer at the Cheltenham festival for the second year in a row. He is the principal trainer for leading owner Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud team.

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