The Michael O’Leary-owned Gigginstown House Stud have pledged their support to Gordon Elliott in the wake of the widespread controversy surrounding the photo of the Meath trainer sitting on a dead horse.

Elliott and Gigginstown have had a long and fruitful partnership with Cheltenham Gold Cup success for Don Cossack in 2016 and successive Aintree Grand National victories for Tiger Roll (2018 and ’19) among a string of high-profile prizes which they have combined to plunder.

O’Leary was “deeply disappointed” by the image which appeared on social media over the weekend, but the Ryanair supremo will continue to support the Cullentra handler during this turbulent time.

In a statement today, O’Leary said: “Eddie (racing manager) and I were deeply disappointed by the unacceptable photo which appeared on social media over the weekend.

“The care and welfare of all our horses comes first with all our trainers. Sadly, from time to time our horses suffer injuries and/or fatalities and we expect all such cases to be treated with the care and attention they deserve.

“We have always found that animal welfare comes first, second and third at Cullentra. From the facilities, to the brilliant team of people led by Gordon, our horses are trained with no expense spared for their development, welfare and care.

“We accept that the photograph was a grievous but momentary lapse of judgement from Gordon, and not in keeping with our 15-year experience of his concern for and attention to the welfare of our horses.

“We all make mistakes, and what is important is that we learn from them and ensure we do not repeat them. We accept Gordon’s profound, sincere and unreserved apology, and we will continue to support him and his team at Cullentra as they work to recover from this deeply regrettable incident.”

However betting exchange giant Betfair have confirmed they have severed ties with the Summerhill based trainer, saying in a statement, “While we recognise that Gordon deeply regrets and apologised unreservedly for his poor judgement, his actions are completely at odds with the values of the Betfair brand and that of our employees.

“With that in mind, we have decided to discontinue our association with Gordon with immediate effect.”