Gordon Elliott’s yard sponsor has terminated its contract with the Irish trainer after a photo of him sat on a dead horse appeared online.
eCOMM Merchant Solutions said in a short statement that they were terminating their sponsorship contract with Elliott “due to recent events”.
One of racing’s largest owner groups, Cheveley Park Stud, had already confirmed that all eight of their Elliott-trained horses are to be moved amid an investigation into the trainer.
eCOMM Merchant Solutions has terminated its sponsorship contract with Gordon Elliott due to recent events.
— eCOMM 365 (@ecomm365) March 2, 2021
Racing authorities in Britain and Ireland have condemned the image of Elliott sat on a dead horse, which Elliott confirmed in a statement on Sunday evening was genuine, apologising “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 photograph.
The British Horseracing Authority said it was “appalled” by the image and has banned Elliott from saddling runners in Britain while the investigation is undertaken.
Gigginstown House Stud, run by Michael and Eddie O’Leary, announced on Monday it would continue to support Elliott, but many of its runners face the prospect of being barred from the lucrative Cheltenham Festival later this month.
Among the eight Cheveley Park Stud horses currently trained by Elliott is Cheltenham Festival favourite Envoi Allen, who is moving to fellow Irish trainer Henry de Bromhead, along with stablemates Quilixios and Ballyadam.
Sir Gerhard, who is set to put his unbeaten record on the line in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, will be trained by Willie Mullins, who already houses the favourite for the race in Kilcruit.
Cheveley Park Stud’s Richard Thompson told Sky Sports Racing: “We’ve made a decision this morning to move the horses from Gordon’s yard.
“We have eight horses [with Elliott], and they’ll go to Henry de Bromhead and Willie Mullins. That will be organised by Chris Richardson and the team. Logistics are in place, and we’re organising it right now.
“We had to consider what was happening yesterday with the building story and the backdrop of Cheveley’s reputation in terms of probably the most important British-owned racing and breeding operations in the UK, and the fact that this reputation has been built up, we have various breeders and many people who support us.
“We had to look at the context of where Cheveley sits in the industry and our responsibility to the industry in Britain.
“Obviously for Gordon, it’s a terrible time for him, but obviously he’s made a terrible error of judgement which he admits, but I explained to him we had to do the right thing by Cheveley Park.
“I’m not close enough to the centre of the politics of horse racing and how it works between Britain and Ireland and how these relationships work but all I know with my Cheveley Park Stud hat on is we had to take a decision as a board of directors to disassociate ourselves with Gordon at this time.”
The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has announced it will convene on Friday, March 5 to “hear evidence and consider an investigation relating to Mr Gordon Elliott”.
In an interview with the Racing Post on Monday evening, Elliott described his behaviour as “indefensible” and said he would spend the rest of his life paying for “a moment of madness”.