Veteran horse trainer and former jockey Ted Walsh has said that trainer Gordon Elliott should consider handing in his licence and taking a break for a while "to get his life back in order".
"Maybe he should hand over his licence, maybe he should take a break, give it in and say 'I'll take six months or 12 months or a sabbatical', take a breather to get his life back in order, to get himself back in order too. To take care of himself," Walsh told RTÉ radio's Today with Claire Byrne show.
The racing commentator said that he had been very disappointed by the picture of Elliott sitting on a dead horse which emerged online at the weekend, “it’s not something that I expected from anybody in the racing game.
Elliott confirmed in statement on Sunday that the image was real and he apologised for any offence the photograph had caused.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has imposed an interim ban on him having runners in Britain, and a referrals panel hearing on Friday will examine if Elliott has damaged the reputation of racing.
The members of the panel, and what time they sit at, has yet to be decided. The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has launched its own investigation.
“The majority of people I know treat their horses with respect, alive and dead, Gordon’s outfit is a first class outfit, it’s like a Grade A 5 star hotel, everything is well looked after, the results show that it is a well-run operation, I’m dumbfounded.
“I know him since he was 16, that’s not the man I know. It’s not what I thought he would do. It was one of those bad moments that he will regret and he will pay dearly for it as he has already. His best horse has left the yard.”
Cheveley Park Stud has taken away all eight horses they had with Elliott, including unbeaten star Envoi Allen.
Walsh said it must have been heart breaking for Elliott to see the horses he had been training being taken away in a horse box to go to another trainer, “all because of one crazy act and that’s what it was – disrespect for a horse.
“I feel so sorry for him . . . It’s going to be a long road back . . . It’s going to be a long struggle. I hope mentally he can put up with it as well because it must be absolutely heart breaking.
“I hope mentally he will be strong enough to get over it. It’s a huge blow to see your whole life – like a deck of cards crumbling down in front of you. He’ll pay for it, he has paid for it already. His yard is gone, his staff will be redundant.”
“It was easy to kick a fella when he’s down”, said Walsh, “he knows what he did was wrong at this stage now I’d say he needs a bit of help.”