Gordon Elliott has coached more than 140 winners this season and is runner-up in the Irish Coaching Championship after Willie Mullins
Leading Irish racehorse trainer Gordon Elliott says a photo posted on social media of him posing with a dead horse is real.
The picture shows him sitting on a dead horse and talking on the phone.
The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) has initiated an investigation into the image, what Elliott says was taken “some time ago”.
“I apologize deeply for any crime this photo has caused.” he told the Racing Post.
The 43-year-old who lives in County Meath is a very successful coach who has won the Grand National three times, including twice with Tiger Roll.
“I can categorically state that the well-being of every single horse I care for is of the utmost importance and has been central to the success we have enjoyed,” he said.
“The photo in question was taken some time ago and occurred after a horse galloped from an apparent heart attack.
“At a sad time when a horse is dying under my care, my first reaction was to remove the body from its position.
“I stood over the horse, waiting to help remove the body. Meanwhile, I received a phone call as a reminder and sat down without thinking to answer it. When I heard a scream from one of my teams, I meant to wait till i finished.
“Such background information may seem trivial at this point and will not allay the concerns of many people both inside and outside the world of horse racing.”
An IHRB spokesman said on Sunday: “The investigation is still ongoing and will be processed as soon as possible.”
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) said it was aware of the image and officials were in contact with their Irish counterparts.