Irish racing legend Ted Walsh has claimed that trainer Gordon Elliott needs help to get his life back in order after the furore of the last few days following the publication on social media of a picture showing the Longwood based Elliott sitting astride a dead horse.
The 43-year-old Elliott will be before the Referrals Committee of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) on Friday with his licence hanging in the balance and Walsh feels that it might be best for him to “take a break” from racing.
“You know maybe he should, maybe he should take a break and give it in,” Walsh told Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio One. “Maybe he should say ‘I’ll take six months or 12 months or a sabbatical’ and take a breather and see if he’ll get his life back in order and get himself back in order too.”
Legendary trainer Walsh condemned the photo while admitting that Elliott’s actions were “alien” to him and all involved in the racing industry, but he sympathised with the mental torture which the three-time Grand National-winning trainer is going through.
While the Michael O’Leary-backed Gigginstown House Stud have vowed to support Elliott in his darkest hour, Betfair and yard sponsors eCOMM Merchant Solutions have already pulled the plug on their association with him while Cheveley Park Stud removed eight high-profile horses from his care yesterday.
Walsh fears for Elliott’s wellbeing as a result of the fallout, which looks set to drag on for some time with racing set to remain in the spotlight over the coming weeks during the Cheltenham Festival, and he insists that it’ll be a “long road back” to the heights Elliott once scaled.
“It must be heartbreaking for all of them up there. The phenomenal success he had with his horses in England, Ireland, America, France. All gone out the door because of one crazy act,” Walsh said.
“And that’s what it was, a crazy act, a disrespect for the horse, it was shocking,
“The picture tells a story. It’s one of those bad moments he will regret and will pay dearly for as he has already. I’m so sorry for him because I know how hard it is to get to the position he was in.
“It’s a long road back, but once you’re alive and able to fight the thing it’s never over. Other fellas have gotten warned off over the years and you’d say it was the end of the road but they’ve gotten back again. But it’s going to be a long struggle.