Prominent horse owner Phillip Reynolds has launched an impassioned defence of Gordon Elliott.
The County Meath trainer faces an IHRB Referrals Committee on Friday regarding the photo of him sitting on a dead horse.
Elliott is banned from entering runners in the UK by the British Horseracing Authority, while the trainer says he will spend the rest of his life paying for a photograph he describes as "indefensible".
On Tuesday, Cheveley Park Stud announced they were withdrawing their eight horses from Elliott's yard and splitting them between those of Willie Mullins and Henry de Bromhead.
Reynolds also has eight horses in Elliott's care, including Hunters Chase prospect Presenting Percy.
In a statement, he wrote, "None of us has a monopoly on shock, horror, disappointment, anger and sadness – and having spent my life owning horses and in the pet industry, believe me, in this case, I own as much of those feelings as anyone else.
“My professional relationship with Gordon dates back more than five years. In that regard and having been to his yard a number of times, I have no hesitation saying his facilities are world class – and as a trainer, well, his record speaks for itself.
“I would love people to hear the many stories of how, and only because of his deep understanding and passion, he revived and made horses champions again.
“Not just the big names like Silver Birch or Samcro, but the many much lesser lights whose owners’ Grand Nationals were won mid-week in the pouring rain in small tracks up and down the country.
“But sadly it seems in this discourse there is little room. I know no matter what I say there will be folks who believe no punishment will be strong enough. I accept their view. Mine is from a sense of forgiveness.
“The authorities will deal with Gordon, but his trial has already played out. We have stripped him bare and flogged him in public. The scars of this week are his ultimate punishment, ones that will live him him long after we have all moved on to the next event.
“For all these reasons, and accepting this is a one-time error of judgement, I will stay with Gordon – and I hope we can all find it in our hearts not to destroy him.
“He’s only human.”
Elliott has also been backed this week by the owners of Tiger Roll, Gigginstown House.
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