Gordon Elliott’s first runner since returning from suspension comes just 12th in Punchestown

Disgraced Irish trainer Gordon Elliott has bad luck in Punchestown as Oh Purple Reign finishes 12th in his first runner since returning from suspension for riding a dead horse

  • Gordon Elliot was banned for one year by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board
  • Photos have surfaced of the 43-year-old jumping trainer sitting on a dead horse
  • The last six months of his suspension have been suspended and he has his driver’s license back
  • His first runner back, Oh Purple Reign in Punchestown, only finished 12th


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Irish trainer Gordon Elliott had bad luck at Punchestown with his first runner since returning from suspension for riding a dead horse.

The lead trainer, 43, was banned for 12 months, with half that sentence suspended, after an image of him sitting on a dead horse went viral on social media in March.

Elliott was also ordered to pay €15,000, with the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board declaring that the penalty reflected ‘the seriousness of the offense and the damage to the Irish racing industry’ after the statue sparked huge public outcry.

Gordon Elliott was banned for 12 months - banned for 6 months - after this image of him sitting on a dead horse went viral on social media in March

Gordon Elliott was banned for 12 months – banned for 6 months – after this image of him sitting on a dead horse went viral on social media in March

Elliott was in Punchestown on Tuesday, but his first runner back didn't perform

Elliott was in Punchestown on Tuesday, but his first runner back didn't perform

Elliott was in Punchestown on Tuesday, but his first runner back didn’t perform

After a six-month suspension during which Denise Foster took temporary control of Cullentra stables, Elliott was free to resume registrations from last Thursday – initially five for Punchestown’s Flat game.

But he declared only two runners – and with third reserve Alice Kitty failing to make the cut in race six, his only representative on Tuesday’s card was recent winner Oh Purple Reign in the Donate To The Coast To The Curragh Cycle in Honor of Pat Smullen Handicap.

Ridden by Declan McDonogh, the four-year-old was the 9-2 second favorite to continue his Gowran Park win from 13 days earlier, but struggled backwards to turn home, ultimately beating just two rivals in 12th place behind 14- 1 winner Khafaaq.

Elliott, who was in attendance at Punchestown, will saddle up four runners on Wednesday’s National Hunt map in Sligo.

Elliott (right) speaks with jockey Declan McDonogh at the Tuesday afternoon meet

Elliott (right) speaks with jockey Declan McDonogh at the Tuesday afternoon meet

Elliott (right) speaks with jockey Declan McDonogh at the Tuesday afternoon meet

He said: ‘It’s great to be racing again and to see faces I haven’t seen in a long time.

‘Of course I would have liked the horse to run a little better, but it’s nice to be back. I’ve really missed racing over the past few months, so I’m looking forward to getting back into that routine.”

For Tuesday’s meeting, Elliott presented himself as someone who has learned from a scorching experience.

Elliott has presented himself as someone who has learned from a scorching experience

Elliott has presented himself as someone who has learned from a scorching experience

Elliott has presented himself as someone who has learned from a scorching experience

He told Racing TV: ‘You think you have thick skin until you see something like this.

“It was horrible – I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life. I apologized to everyone for what I did – but it was my fault and the blame stops with me.

“I just want to put it behind me.”

The boss of one of Britain’s largest horse welfare organizations has warned that Elliott has “still a steep mountain to climb” to convince some people that he should be part of the racing world.

On Thursday he got his driver's license back and can now get back to work

On Thursday he got his driver's license back and can now get back to work

On Thursday he got his driver’s license back and can now get back to work

Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare, said: ‘The whole justification for equestrian sports is that we care for our horses responsibly and the image depicted was certainly not responsible.

“When he comes back, it’s all about building his social license – his personal social license to be a trainer, but more broadly because what he does is a broader reflection of racing and equestrian sports.

‘Social license has everything to do with our horses doing the right thing. This was clearly a tragic example of where this couldn’t be further from the truth. Obviously he has to climb a much steeper mountain to get back to where some people think he should be part of racing.

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