McGonagle ‘warned off’ for taking Elliott photograph

Cullentra House head man receives two-month ban for dead horse photo

The man who took the notorious photo of Gordon Elliott sitting on a dead horse has been 'warned off' for two months.

On Friday an Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board Referrals hearing disqualified Elliott’s head man, Simon McGonagle, for nine months. Seven months of that is suspended.

It means McGonagle, who has been a close friend of Elliott since school, cannot work in racing for the two month period starting on April 19th.

A panel chaired by Mrs Justice Siobhan Keegan decided McGonagle had acted in a manner which damaged the reputation of racing by taking the photo in 2019 which emerged on social media last month.


An IHRB spokesman said McGonagle, who Elliott has described as being his best friend, confirmed he had taken the picture and described it as “30 seconds of madness” he would have to live with for the rest of his life.

However, it remains unclear who released the controversial onto social media, a move that resulted in Elliott having his licence withdrawn for a year with the last six months of it suspended.

“He said he sent it to five people, that he had spoken to those five people who assured him they had not taken a screen-shot and distributed it. So that remains unclear,” the IHRB spokesman said.

Elliott is still allowed live and work at his Cullentra House stables although it is Denise Foster who is the licence holder there. She gave evidence at Friday's hearing which was held on Zoom.

Horses based at Cullentra have won three times at Cheltenham this week including Tiger Roll in the Cross-County Chase on Wednesday.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column