Monday, we start at Southwell. Falco Blitz survived an X rated mistake at the second last to take the Novice handicap chase. It was a really good sit from Nico De Boinville. The race was going to be won very easily by Falco Blitz prior to that mistake. Falco Blitz was advised 2pts win at 15/8 to our members. At Carlisle, Word Has It was on target for Donald McCain. At Fairyhouse, Zanavi, trained and ridden by Denis Hogan, recorded a 25/1 shock when taking the opening Maiden Hurdle in fine style. Folcano gained compensation for an unlucky defeat last time when taking division one of the Maiden Hurdle for Gordon Elliott. Full-Time Score rewarded connections for their patience when reappearing after a near two years break to take division two of the Maiden Hurdle under Rachael Blackmore. At Wolverhampton, there was a double for Richard Kingscote with Tributo and Enaitchess.
Tuesday, we start at Taunton, the feature race went to Rockadenn for Paul Nicholls who saw off Pic D'Orhy (who was advised 1pt each-way at 9/1 to our members). At Wetherby, Milans Edge was on target for Donald McCain. At Newcastle, Sir Mark Prescott was on target with Caribeno.
Wednesday, we start at Doncaster, Beau Bay took the veterans chase for Dr Richard Newland. At Ludlow, there was a double for Venetia Williams with French Du Large and Subcontinent. At Southwell, Ivan Furtado was on target Tom Mix. At Kempton, Richard Fahey was on target with Elusive Treat.
Thursday, we start at Thurles. There was a double for Gordon Elliott with Jury Duty and Grand Paradis. The successful grey is now 6/1 favourite from 10/1 with Paddy Power (non-runner no bet) for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham after his thirteen length demolition of Goodbye Someday. At Huntingdon, there was a double for Dan and Harry Skelton with Antunes and Go Steady. There was an across the card double for Venetia Williams with Brave Seasca at Huntingdon and Funambule Sivola at Chepstow. Up at Sedgefield Laskadine was on target for Ben Haslam. At Southwell, Tilsitt was on target for Ivan Furtado. At Meydan, Charlie Appleby enjoyed a treble with Bright Melody, Naval Crown and Star Safari.
Friday, we start at Dundalk. With a 30th winner and a double on the evening Saw Ewing’s claim is down to five, triumphing in division two of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Median Auction Maiden at Dundalk on Kieran Cotter’s newcomer Gold Phoenix. Ewing won the first race on Everyhouronthehour for William Ross. San Andreas followed up his win in the same event last year for Joseph O’Brien. There was a smart Irish debut for our friends at Hilltop as Confide ran on very well for second. At Exeter, Momella made it a third win of the season for Harry Fry. At Lingfield, Ivan Furtado continued his good run when on target with Byford. At Warwick, Cabot Cliffs were on target for Dan and Harry Skelton. At Wolverhampton, there was a double for Jim Tate with Raise The Roof and Final Voyage.
Saturday, we start at Newcastle. Sam’s Adventure provided local trainer Brian Ellison with a popular win in the Vertem Eider Handicap Chase. Cyclop 315 was advised (1pt each way) at 10/1 landing the fourth place each-way special. At Kempton, Emmet Mullins will ponder his Cheltenham Festival options for Cape Gentleman after winning the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle. Tritonic cemented his JCB Triumph Hurdle claims with a hugely impressive display in the Close Brothers Adonis Juvenile Hurdle for Alan King. Tom George landed the Close Brothers Handicap Chase at Kempton for a third time as Clondaw Castle relished the step up in trip. Cap Du Nord was advised (1pt each way) 7/1 landing the fifth place special.
At Lingfield, John Quinn’s Lord Riddiford held off the late lunge of Nunthorpe third Moss Gill to win the Betway Hever Sprint Stakes. John Gosden continued his winter big-race haul, adding the Betway Winter Derby to his Saudi Cup triumph when Forest Of Dean executed his trainer's plan B’ to perfection under a copybook ride from Robert Havlin. Acapapella Bourgeois registered wins in consecutive renewals of the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse today, helping Champion Trainer Willie Mullins complete his own sixth consecutive win in the Grade 3 race. Gowran's rescheduled Red Mills Trial Hurdle was moved to Fairyhouse today and won by Jason The Militant, which made all the running to score under jockey Rachael Blackmore and for trainer Henry De Bromhead.
Sunday, we start at Naas. Zoffanien is bound for the Cheltenham Festival following a runaway victory. It was good news for our members Zoffanien was advised (2.5pts win) at 7/4. Egality Mans made all to run out a convincing winner of the first division of the maiden hurdle at Naas, bringing up a treble on the card for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend. Echoes In Rain quickened up in fine style to run out an easy winner Paddy Power Grade 2 Novice Hurdle. Cilaos Emery bounced back to winning ways in the opening Grade 3 chase. In the UK Brewin’upastorm was an emphatic winner of Fontwell’s Loch Lomond Whiskies National Spirit Hurdle – at the chief expense of short-priced favourite McFabulous.
Off the track on Sunday, there was only one story.
The following is a statement from Gordon Elliott regarding the photo circulating on social media:-
"I would like to address the speculation and rumours that have been rife since an old photo of me began circulating on social media yesterday afternoon.
Firstly, I apologise profoundly for any offence that this photo has caused and can categorically state that the welfare of each and every horse under my care is paramount and has been central to the success that we have enjoyed here at Cullentra.
The photo in question was taken some time ago and occurred after a horse had died of an apparent heart attack on the gallops. I appreciate that an initial viewing of this photo suggests it is a callous and staged photo but nothing could be further from the truth.
At what was a sad time, which it is when any horse under my care passes away, my initial reaction was to get the body removed from where it was positioned. I was standing over the horse waiting to help with the removal of the body, in the course of which, to my memory I received a call and, without thinking, I sat down to take it. Hearing a shout from one of my team, I gestured to wait until I was finished. Such background information may seem trivial at this time and will not allay the concerns of many people both within and outside the world of horse racing.
However, I feel it is important to provide people with some context surrounding this photo. To the racing community, to anyone who has worked with and loves horses and to anyone offended by this image I cannot apologise enough.
Horse welfare and the care and attention to detail involved is absolutely at the core of everything we do here and both myself and all of my team pride ourselves on those standards.
Again I apologise for any offence caused and ask people to consider this statement as opposed to the various falsehoods and misinformation being circulated on social media.
At this time I would like to stress that I continue to extend my full cooperation with the ongoing IHRB investigation."
The whole incident is the last thing that racing needs. What Gordon Elliott has done is gut-wrenching for horse lovers and horse fans. It is so far below what you expect from any trainer, never mind one of the best in the world. It goes against everything I believe in when it comes to horses. It just makes you feel numb as you cannot help but think " what if this was our horse?"
Gordon Elliott has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the ranks of horse racing. Elliott will face punishment, however, what that is remains to be seen. The owners involved in the Elliott yard have decisions to make as regards what the future is for Gordon Elliott. The future career of Gordon Elliott can wait for another day. The sport is bigger than any one individual. This entire situation needs to be dealt with in a quick and unambiguous manner by the IHRB. If people think the issue is going away in the short term, I think they are misguided. All bets are off in this scenario. With mainstream news media hunting stories on Gordon Elliott as we all as horse racing. Things could get worse before they get better in the immediate future. It is sad as well as a precarious time for our sport.