With just a fortnight to go before the Cheltenham Festival, Gordon Elliott finds himself in the eye of a storm, following the publication of an image on social media at the weekend, which the trainer has-since confirmed was genuine and not fake.

The Longwood trainer has apologised ‘profoundly’, after a photograph of him sitting on top of a dead horse was widely circulated on Sat night..

Last night in a statement, Elliott confirmed that the photo, which is now the subject of an investigation by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, was taken ‘some time ago’, and came after the sudden death of one of his horses on the gallops.

In the picture, Elliott appears to be making the “peace” gesture with his fingers.

However in his statement, he claims he was gesturing to a colleague to wait until he was finished with a phone call.

Elliott has insisted that the welfare of each and every horse under his care is paramount, and says that while he could appreciate that an initial viewing of the photo suggests it is a callous and staged photo, nothing could be further from the truth.

The IHRB are yet to comment on Elliott’s admission on the legitimacy of the photo, but say their investigation will be dealt-with, as quickly as possible.

In just a fortnights’ time, the Cullentra handler will be sending-over his usual strong raiding party to the Cotswolds for the big 4-day Festival, where his big fancies include ‘Envoi Allen’ and ‘Zanahiyr’.

He also saddles dual Aintree National winner ‘Tiger Roll’ in the Cross-Country Chase.