Elliott loses yard sponsor over dead horse photo

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(Reuters) - Irish trainer Gordon Elliott lost his yard sponsor and a leading stud moved its racehorses into the care of others on Tuesday in further fallout from the circulation of a photograph of him sitting on a dead horse.

Elliott, a Gold Cup and three times Grand National winner, has been barred from racing in Britain pending an investigation in Ireland.

"eCOMM Merchant Solutions has terminated its sponsorship contract with Gordon Elliott due to recent events," the yard sponsor said on Twitter.

The Newmarket-based Cheveley Park Stud moved eight Elliott-trained horses to the yards of Henry de Bromhead and Willie Mullins.

They include Cheltenham Festival favourite Envoi Allen.

Bookmaker Betfair announced on Monday the end of its association with the County Meath-based trainer, whose horses include the Michael O'Leary-owned 2018 and 2019 Grand National winner Tiger Roll.

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) said its referrals committee would meet on Friday to hear evidence and consider an investigation relating to Elliott.

The trainer has confirmed the photograph was genuine and said it was taken some time ago after a horse had died of an apparent heart attack on the gallops. He apologised for "any offence caused".


In a similar incident, Irish amateur jockey Rob James apologised after a video of him climbing on a dead horse also appeared on social media.

James told the Irish Field newspaper he was the person in the video.

It showed him briefly climbing on the dead horse while others present could be heard laughing.

James, who rode Elliott-trained Milan Native to victory at the Cheltenham Festival last year, said the mare died following a cardiac arrest on a gallops in April 2016.

"I would just like to apologise for my actions which were wholly inappropriate and disrespectful," he told the newspaper.

"I sincerely apologise to the owners of the mare, the staff who cared for her, the horseracing industry, and all followers of horse racing for my actions."

The IHRB said on Twitter that the matter was under investigation.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru/Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Ken Ferris)