Disgraced Grand National winning trainer Gordon Elliott has revealed how Sir Alex Ferguson has given him some advice ahead of this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
Elliott – who led Tiger Roll to consecutive Grand National victories in 2018 and 2019 – was banned for 12 months from the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board after a shocking photo of him sitting on a dead horse distributed on social media.
However, the last six months of Elliott’s suspension have been suspended and his driver’s license will be reinstated on Thursday, allowing him to resume registrations.
Gordon Elliott revealed how Sir Alex Ferguson advised him after the scandal
In March, Elliott, 43, was suspended by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board after a 2019 photo emerged of him sitting on a dead horse at a gallop in his County Meath stable.
Elliott apologized “deeply” after the images circulated in February. He said the photo was dated “some time ago” and denied suggestions that his actions had been “heartless”, stressing that he had been caught off guard after a phone call.
Elliott was given a 12-month ban from the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board after a shocking photo of him sitting on a dead horse circulated on social media (above)
The last six months of his suspension have been suspended and he will get his driver’s license back on Thursday
Yet Elliot was suspended just ten days before the start of the Cheltenham Festival in March. However, his horses were still able to race when Denise Foster took over as the licensed trainer at Elliott’s Co Meath stables.
Elliot has since revealed to the Race message that Sir Alex Ferguson contacted him during the festival to tell him to ‘ignore the noise’ and ask for forgiveness.
Now, six months after the scandal and the call from Ferguson, Elliot says he’s eager to prove he’s “not a monster” when he returns to training this week.
He told the Racing Post: “I have to prove that the impression people have of me in the photo does not reflect who I am.
“For myself, for my family, for my staff and especially for the industry and its supporters, I have to stand up and prove to everyone that I am not a monster.
Sir Alex Ferguson contacted him during Cheltenham festival telling him to ‘ignore the noise’
Cheveley Park Stud owners moved all eight horses, including the undefeated Envoi Allen (above), under Gordon Elliott’s care to other trainers
“That’s all I can focus on right now. I know this has all backfired on me, but I’ve proven that I can train horses at any level, and that’s all I want to do.
“I made a mistake, I understand, and I’m sorry for what I’ve done. An opportunity to move on is all I’m looking for right now.
“I think I hope people will forgive me and let me move forward by doing what I’m good at again, training winners.”
Professionally, Elliott has paid the price for his madness. He missed about 50 winners to his name.
He also has a handful of his best horses, such as the UK-based Cheveley Park Stud, who moved Quilixios and Sir Gerhard, who both went on to win at the Cheltenham Festival, plus previous two-time Cheltenham Festival winner Envoi Allen to compete with Irish trainers Henry De Bromhead and Willie Mullins.
When asked if he knew why the photo had been released, Elliott said: “I don’t know who posted it, and I had never seen the photo before it went online.
“If you look at how it showed up just before Cheltenham, so long after it was taken, I have a feeling it was malicious.”
Despite the circumstances behind the photo’s publication, the IHRB believed Elliott’s actions had “damaged the reputation of the Irish racing industry and the thoroughbred industry.”
As a result, Elliott accepted his “situation” and “sanction” — saying he felt he was being treated fairly.
His statement read: ‘I accept my situation and my sanction. I was treated fairly.
“I am in this situation because of my own action and I am not going to get out of this. With my position in the sport I have great privileges and great responsibility. I did not take that responsibility.
“I’m not the teenager who first rode a horse at Tony Martin’s thirty years ago. I am an adult with obligations and a position in a sport that I have loved since I first saw horses race.
“I pay a very high price for my mistake, but I have no complaints. It breaks my heart to see how much pain I have caused my colleagues, family, friends and supporters. I still have a long way to go, but I’ll do my time and then better build up.
“I had no respect for a dead horse, an animal that had been a faithful servant to me and loved by my staff. I will bear the burden of my transgressions for the rest of my career. I will never again disrespect a horse, living or dead, and I will not tolerate it in others.
Finally, I would like to thank my owners and my employees who, despite being abandoned by me, have remained unwavering in their support. I will confirm their faith in me.’