In a statement which was issued late on Sunday evening, Irish trainer Gordon Elliott, confirmed the image was genuine and apologized “profoundly for any offence that this photo has caused”, while seeking to explain what he said was the “context” of events that led to the picture.
The image was roundly condemned by racing authorities in Britain and Ireland, As the IHRB announced an immediate investigation and the British Horseracing Authority issuing a temporary suspension on Elliott’s runners until its conclusion.
On Tuesday, leading owners Cheveley Park Stud had removed their horses from Elliott, with the unbeaten Envoi Allen one of those to join Henry de Bromhead. In addition to the suspension, Elliott was also ordered to pay costs of 15,000 euros.
Delivering its verdict, a statement from the IHRB referrals committee said in its view “there is also a sinister aspect to this case. The committee are satisfied that the publication of this photograph is part of a concerted attack on Mr Elliott, the full circumstances of which are unknown”.
“This has been canvassed not for the purposes of defense or absolution but in order to explain the publication of a photograph that has existed since 2019.”
In considering sanctions, it said “the committee recognizes that the sanction must be arrived at taking into account all of the circumstances, and the aggravating and mitigating factors including Mr Elliott’s personal circumstances, in order to achieve a proportionate result”.
The IHRB said Elliott had “expressed what we believe to be a genuine remorse and accepts that he is unlikely to forget this episode in his life”, with the committee adding it believed he “genuinely accepts that he was extraordinarily foolish to participate in the way he did”.
It added: “Whilst the incident in question was unforgivable, it was, nonetheless, an event which took place without deliberation or forethought over a time period of some seconds. There was a pointed absence of common sense.”