Jockey Rob James apologises for climbing on top of dead horse in video clip

2 March 2021, 16:09 | Updated: 2 March 2021, 18:02

Rob James after winning at the Cheltenham Festival
Rob James after winning at the Cheltenham Festival. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Irish amateur jockey Rob James has apologised after a video of him climbing on to the back of a dead horse emerged on social media.

It comes after a photograph of Grand National-winning trainer Gordon Elliott sitting on a dead horse came to light over the weekend.

The video of James, who rode Elliott’s Milan Native to victory at the Cheltenham Festival last year, shows him straddling the horse while others can be heard laughing.

He told the Irish Field: “I would just like to apologise for my actions which were wholly inappropriate and disrespectful to a lovely five-year-old mare, who unfortunately suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while at exercise earlier that morning, April 30, 2016.

“I sincerely apologise to the owners of the mare, the staff who cared for her, the horse racing industry and all followers of horse racing for my actions.

A video of Rob James straddling a dead horse has emerged on social media
A video of Rob James straddling a dead horse has emerged on social media. Picture: PA

“To try defending my stupidity at the time would add further insult and hurt to the many loyal people that have supported me during my career. I have caused embarrassment to my employers, my family and most importantly the sport I love.

“I am heartbroken by the damage I have caused and will do my best to try and make amends to those hurt by my conduct.”

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB), the sport’s regulator in Ireland, has said on it is “aware of further social media content circulating”, adding “the matter is under investigation”.

A British Horseracing Authority (BHA) spokesman said: "We are aware of the image but are not making any comment as this is an issue for the Irish authorities."

Rob James celebrates with Gordon Elliott after winning on Milan Native during last year's Cheltenham Festival
Rob James celebrates with Gordon Elliott after winning on Milan Native during last year's Cheltenham Festival . Picture: PA

The IHRB has announced it will consider its investigation into Elliott on Friday.

Elliott has been "cooperating fully" with the IHRB since the photo of him was posted on Twitter on Saturday night.

He confirmed in a statement on Sunday evening it was genuine and apologised "profoundly for any offence that this photo has caused".

On Tuesday afternoon, the IHRB published a new statement on its Twitter account, which read: "The Referrals Committee of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board is scheduled to convene on Friday 5th March to hear evidence and consider an investigation relating to Mr Gordon Elliott (Trainer)."

The BHA has confirmed Elliott will not be permitted to have runners in Britain until the conclusion of the investigation.

A statement on Monday evening read: "The British Horseracing Authority will not allow the Irish trainer Gordon Elliott to race horses in Britain whilst the Irish authorities investigate an image that appeared on social media over the weekend.

"The trainer admitted the photo was genuine and apologised for his actions.

"The BHA, which regulates racing in Britain, will use powers under its own rules to refuse to allow horses trained by Mr Elliott to race in Britain pending consideration of the outcome of the Irish investigation.”

Elliott, a three-time Grand National winner, has been widely criticised, with Horse Racing Ireland saying it "unreservedly" condemned the photo and Betfair discontinuing its association with the trainer "with immediate effect".