Nothing of any concern found in inspection of Gordon Elliott’s stables
Trainer’s final runner before his ban begins, Top Bandit, pipped by a nose at Leopardstown
Gordon Elliott: The standard of care provided to the over 200 horses at his yard was praised in evidence at Friday’s IHRB referrals committee hearing. Photograph: Simon Cooper/PA
Irish racing’s regulator has said “nothing of any concern” was found when an unannounced inspection of Gordon Elliott’s Co Meath stables took place last week.
A spokesman for the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) confirmed on Monday that the inspection on March 2nd was part of their investigation into the controversial image showing Elliott sitting on a dead horse that had emerged the previous weekend.
On Friday Elliott had his licence withdrawn for a year – with half of it suspended – for damaging the reputation of racing.
His last day saddling horses under his own name until September at the earliest ended in frustration at Leopardstown on Monday when his final runner, Top Bandit, was beaten by a nose in the bumper.
The IHRB spokesman confirmed the relevant papers to allow Denise ‘Sneezy’ Foster take over the running of Elliott’s Cullentra House stables have been filed. He also said last Tuesday’s stable inspection found nothing of note.
“It was the 12th time in the last eight years there has been an inspection of his stables and as in the previous 11 cases it found nothing of any concern,” he said.
The standard of care provided to the over 200 horses at Elliott’s yard was remarked upon repeatedly in evidence at Friday’s referrals committee hearing, details of which were published by the IHRB on Monday.
Ryanair chief executive, Michael O’Leary, Elliott’s principal owner personally gave evidence to the panel chaired by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke and stated that Irish racing had suffered reputational damage over the case.
He also described his experience of the “exemplary care” his horses were given by Elliott.
O’Leary admitted to being shocked and surprised by the unacceptable behaviour in the image which he believed was out of character from a man who usually has to be consoled when informing owners of injuries or fatalities.
Other evidence included that from Elliott’s accountant, his long-time vet, and the former Gold Cup-winning trainer Henrietta Knight.
She stated that her experience of bringing owners to Cullentra on numerous occasions was excellent.
She explained that she had written a book about attention to detail and horse husbandry and that Elliott’s attention to detail is as good as she has witnessed.
In his own evidence Elliott described the situation as “horrific” and the “the worst week of his life”.
He also outlined details of abuse he and his staff had received and provided background to a number of false accounts of stories which had been circulating on social media relating to him and his personal life.
That had led to the involvement of the Garda both prior to the image emerging and since. A Garda investigation is ongoing.