Irish horse race trainer banned over cruel photo with dead horse Morgan

Horse with foam coming out of his mouth during a race, Royal Ascot, Britain, June 17, 2020, source: Megan Ridgwell / Reuters
Horse with foam coming out of his mouth during a race, Royal Ascot, Britain, June 17, 2020, source: Megan Ridgwell / Reuters

Irish trainer Gordon Elliott was banned from horse racing for 12 months on Friday after a photograph circulated on social media of him sitting on the dead horse Morgan.

In the photo, you see Elliott grinning into the camera while he sits on the body of Morgan with a leg on each side, one hand on his phone and making a peace sign with the other.

Elliott had already confirmed the photograph was genuine and the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) said it was taken in 2019 after Morgan had died.

The IHRB said in a judgement that the photograph published on social media had showed “the most appalling bad taste on the part of Mr Elliott”.

“It demonstrates a complete absence of respect for the horse at a time when he still remains in his charge,” it added, highlighting the happy behaviour of the trainer while he sits on the deceased Morgan.

Strangely, the IHRB said that the incident was not one of cruelty to animals and nor was it an animal welfare issue to pursue.

Horse racing has long been criticized by animal welfare organizations as a cruel sport where horses are forced to race at extremely high speeds. Many horses have died on racing tracks worldwide.

“They treat them (racehorses) like disposable objects and take no responsibility for them once they stop making money,” Kristin Leigh from the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) told The Animal Reader about the majority of the people behind horse racing.

The IHRB said Elliott had accepted his conduct was “disgraceful”, “horrific” and “wholly inappropriate and distasteful”. The sanction will start on March 9.

Elliott said in a statement that he accepted the situation and had been dealt with fairly.

“I am in this situation by my own action and I am not going to dodge away from this,” he said. “I will never again disrespect a horse living or dead and I will not tolerate it in others.”

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