An investigation has been launched into the emergence of a new video on social media which appears to show an individual jumping onto the back of a dead horse on a gallops. The footage, which both the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board and the British Horseracing Authority are awRead More »
The betting company Betfair have immediately dropped Gordon Elliott as an ambassador after the triple Grand National-winning trainer admitted that a photograph of him sitting astride a dead horse was genuine. Elliott is already facing the prospect of disciplinary action ahead of the Cheltenham Festival in 15 days which could mean missing the Grand National next month, where his horse Tiger Roll would have the chance of emulating Red Rum in becoming a three-time winner. The 42-year-old has apologised “profoundly” after the photo appeared on social media, saying that the incident happened “some time ago” and that his recollection was of receiving a phone call shortly after the horse had died of a suspected heart attack while on the gallops. The animal rights group Animal Aid has already called for Elliott to be banned and Betfair, for whom Elliott is an ambassador, have immediately terminated their relationship with the Irish trainer. “While we recognise that Gordon deeply regrets and apologised unreservedly for his poor judgement his actions are completely at odds with the values of the Betfair brand and that of our employees,” said a spokesperson. “With that in mind, we have decided to discontinue our association with Gordon with immediate effect.” The picture, which shows Elliott flashing what looks like a two-fingered peace sign while sat astride the dead horse with his mobile phone to his ear, is being investigated by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, Elliott could face a charge of “bringing racing into disrepute”. If found guilty, punishments range from a fine to a licence suspension. Should any disciplinary charge result in a suspension, there is generally a 14-day time-gap until the sanction begins. The Cheltenham Festival begins on March 16 and runs until March 19. The Grand National is scheduled for April 10. Elliott is licenced in Ireland and, although the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has no direct jurisdiction, they will be acutely aware of the potential backlash and its timing ahead of the Cheltenham Festival and less than six weeks before the Grand National.
What is happening? The Grand National is back after a one-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is the best known steeplechase in the world in which 40 runners tackle the daunting obstacles of Aintree's 30 Grand National fences over the course of four and a half miles. When is it? The National is the highlight of Aintree's Grand National meeting which this year runs from Thursday April 8 to Saturday April 10. The main event will be on Saturday as things stand. However, as our racing correspondent Marcus Armytage reports, that date could be put back in the light of the Government announcing its four-stage plan to move out of lockdown: A proposal from bookmakers to put this year’s race back a few days or a week later to capitalise on the re-opening on non-essential shops which would include high street bookies on the following Monday, is being considered.Chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Board, Michael Dugher, confirmed bookmakers were right behind the idea and said that the industry was willing to do ‘all it could to iron out any difficulties.’ He added: “Ensuring that the once-a-year punters are able to pop in to their local bookies to have a flutter, supporting their local high street, on the world’s most famous horse race would also help make the Grand National a truly national celebration as we begin to reopen the economy.“And it would ensure that we engage as many people as possible in this great British event, showcasing the fabulous sport of racing. This would also provide a much-needed and timely boost for racing and the high street after such a torrid year for both.”The idea, which would be worth between £1m - £2m – depending on the outcome of the race - to the racing industry in Levy appeared to be gathering pace and is believed to have been discussed in racing’s corridors of power. What time does the big race start? The runners will go to post for 5.15pm. Where is it? Aintree Racecourse, which has hosted the race since 1839. The racecourse is situated approximately six miles outside of Liverpool. What TV channel is it on? Live coverage will once again be on ITV1. Alternatively, you can bookmark this page and return on race day to follow all the action on our dedicated live blog. What happened last year? The race was cancelled due to March's announcement of a national lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In its place was an animated virtual Grand National shown on ITV, won by 18-1 shot Potters Corner. Punters will be pleased that the living, breathing animals are back this time.
Award-winning PA photographer David Davies reveals the challenges faced during the pandemic.