Eight-time champion jump jockey Peter Scudamore fears disgraced trainer Gordon Elliott will still be involved in racing despite ban for dead horse photo
- Trainer Elliott was fined £13,000 and got a 12-month ban, with six suspended
- Denise Foster – who is based in Co Meath, Ireland, has taken over his license
- Scudamore fears ambiguity surrounding the suspension will extend the damage
Peter Scudamore fears the ambiguity surrounding the suspension of trainer Gordon Elliott will extend the damage to the sport’s image caused by the picture of him sitting on a dead horse.
Elliott was handed a year’s ban, with six months suspended, by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on Friday after an investigation into the picture and how it surfaced.
Over the weekend it was confirmed that Denise ‘Sneezy’ Foster will take over the licence at Elliott’s Cullentra House stable in County Meath today and steer the operation through the major spring festivals at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown.
Denise Foster (right) will take over as licensed trainer from banned Gordon Elliott
Being suspended by the IHRB, rather than being a disqualified person, means Elliott is permitted to live in his house at the stable, leading to suggestions that he will still be involved and that Foster, who is moving her small string to Cullentra House, could be merely a flag of convenience.
A statement on Elliott’s Twitter feed was amended on Saturday to include the line ‘the entries will be made by Sneezy and she will be responsible for all operations’, in an apparent attempt to defuse criticism.
Scudamore said: ‘Gordon has not been suspended for an act of cruelty but for bringing the game into disrepute. Yet the PR around the whole thing has been dreadful, arguably extending that disrepute.
‘I said I did not want to see Gordon crucified and I don’t think he has been with the suspension. I feel the headline suspension is fair and proportionate. Gordon has lost his best horse in Envoi Allen and other good horses. That is the thing which will hurt him more than anything.
Elliott was fined and banned after a shocking photo emerged of him sat on a dead horse
‘But the whole point of Gordon’s punishment was to protect the image of the sport and when you look at the small print of that punishment it doesn’t do that. There is a danger it will continue to blacken the name of racing.
‘If you were a potential new sponsor for the Gold Cup, you would probably be asking do I want to get involved with this?’
Elliott has assured the IHRB that he will not attend a race meeting or point-to-point, something the terms of a suspension would have allowed. Foster takes over the licence with six entries due to run in Elliott’s name at Leopardstown this afternoon. They include three likely favourites.
Foster has said that she will not travel to the Cheltenham Festival with the stable’s runners because of Covid-19 but Coral make her 10-1 to be the meeting’s top trainer behind Willie Mullins, Henry De Bromhead and Nicky Henderson.
Elliott has twice been the meeting’s top trainer and with seven winners last year only missed out on the crown because Mullins, who also had seven winners, had more placed runners.
Most people will hope the horses which run in Foster’s name perform to their best for their owners and their support staff but crowning her top trainer would be an uncomfortable scenario.
It comes a week before the start of Cheltenham, where he would ordinarily have 50 runners