Gordon Elliott has had his first winner since returning from his six-month suspension for sitting on a dead horse.
The leading Irish trainer, 43, was banned for 12 months, with half of that punishment suspended, after an image of him sitting on a dead horse was widely circulated on social media in March.
Elliott was also ordered to pay costs of E15,000 – with the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board stating the punishment reflected ‘the seriousness of the offence and the damage to the Irish racing industry’ after the image provoked huge public outcry.
Gordon Elliott has had his first winner (L) since returning from his six-month suspension
Fancy Foundations (L) came up with the goods in the Templehouse Lake Chase at Sligo, Ireland
A first winner since his return from a six-month suspension for trainer Gordon Elliott as Fancy Foundations scores under Denis O’Regan at Sligo
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Elliott was banned for 12 months – six months suspended – after this image of him sitting on a dead horse was widely circulated on social media in March
After serving a ban of six months, during which time Denise Foster took temporary control of Cullentra stables, Elliott was free to begin making entries again from last Thursday.
He saddled his first runner since March 8 on Tuesday’s Flat card at Punchestown – where Oh Purple Reign finished well beaten.
The four-year-old gelding finished 12th of 14 in the Donate To The Coast To The Curragh Cycle In Honour Of Pat Smullen Handicap.
The Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning handler was widely expected to get off the mark in the opening race back over the jumps at Sligo in Ireland on Wednesday.
However 8-13 favourite The Sliding Rock made a bad mistake when trying to close in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Beginners Chase and finished third of four runners.
With Silver Star and Imperial Sachin’s also out of luck later on the card, it was left for Elliott’s final runner of the day Fancy Foundations to come up with the goods in the Templehouse Lake Chase – which he ultimately did in battling style.
Faced with just three rivals, the even-money favourite did not always convince in the jumping department, but dug deep for jockey Denis O’Regan after the final fence to get the better of Blackstair Rocco by four lengths.
Elliott was in attendance at both Punchestown and Sligo. On Tuesday he said: ‘It’s great to be back racing and seeing faces that I haven’t seen in a long time.
‘I would have obviously preferred if the horse ran a bit better, but it’s nice to be back. I have really missed coming racing over the last few months, so I’m looking forward to getting back into that routine again.’
The boss of one of Britain’s leading equine welfare organisations has warned that Elliott ‘still has a steep mountain to climb’ to convince some people he should be part of the racing world.
The trainer was in attendance at both Punchestown (above) and Sligo this week
Elliott (right) speaks with jockey Declan McDonogh during the meet on Tuesday afternoon