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Top racehorse trainer insists he wasn't grinning and making inappropriate gesture as he sat astride dead horse

By Leppy Pardalis

Prominent racehorse trainer Gordon Elliott has clarified that a photograph apparently showing him grinning and making an inappropriate gesture as he sat astride a dead horse does not, in fact, show him grinning and making an inappropriate gesture as he sat astride a dead horse.

Mr Elliott, who has trained three Grand National winners, spoke out after the image of him apparently grinning and making an inappropriate gesture as he sat astride a dead horse provoked widespread outrage.

In un-cropped form, the image shows the animal’s neck stretched agonisingly across the ground, its glassy open eye and the disturbed sand around its hooves where the creature collapsed.

Mr Elliott has apologised for any distress caused to people who misunderstood what they erroneously thought was the clear-as-day evidence of their own eyes.

He explained that the horse died of an apparent heart attack while out on the gallops, and he was waiting respectfully for the body of the animal to be removed when his phone rang and, in the absence of anywhere else to sit, he was forced to use the dead horse.

The trainer said that as he was taking the call, he heard a colleague shout for him, and made a gesture to indicate that he was on the phone.

Racing insiders today voiced their relief that Mr Elliott had cleared up misconceptions so thoroughly.

One said: “It is a well-known fact that standing up while talking on the telephone is physically impossible, and I hope Mr Elliott’s thorough explanation is the end of the matter.

“We in the racing world have nothing but respect, reverence and compassion for racehorses who die, such as the three dozen or so who have died in Britain and Ireland so far this year alone.”