Leading owner Michael O'Leary has announced he will continue to support Gordon Elliott despite the publication of an "unacceptable photo" of the Grand National-winning trainer on social media.
O'Leary, who campaigns his horses under the Gigginstown House Stud banner and includes dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll in his team with Elliott, described the incident as a "grievous but momentary lapse of judgement by Gordon" and intends to maintain his association with the County Meath handler.
The image, which was posted on Twitter on Saturday evening, shows Elliott sitting on a dead horse, with the trainer admitting the image is genuine in a statement on Sunday night.
The incident is already being investigated by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, but O'Leary has reaffirmed his support for Elliott.
In statement, O'Leary said: "Eddie (O'Leary, brother and racing manager) and I were deeply disappointed by the unacceptable photo which appeared on social media over the weekend.
"The care and welfare of all our animals comes first with all our trainers. Sadly, from time to time, our horses suffer injuries and/or fatalities and we expect all such cases to be treated with the care and attention they deserve.
"We have always found that animal welfare comes first, second and third at Cullentra. From the facilities, to the brilliant team of people led by Gordon, our horses are trained with no expense spared for their development, welfare and care.
"We accept that this photograph was a grievous but momentary lapse of judgement by Gordon, and not in keeping with our 15-year experience of his concern for and attention to the welfare of our horses.
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"We all make mistakes, and what is important is that we learn from them and ensure we do not repeat them. We accept Gordon's sincere, profound and unreserved apology and we will continue to support him and his team at Cullentra, as they work to recover from this deeply regrettable incident."
While O'Leary has indicated his intention to wind down his racing operations in the next few years, Elliott also currently trains a number of high-profile horses for the ambitious Cheveley Park Stud.
The most notable of those is Envoi Allen, who is arguably the most exciting horse in Elliott's yard, with back-to-back Cheltenham Festival wins in the Champion Bumper and the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle the highlights of his unbeaten career to date.
The seven-year-old is a hot favourite to win at Cheltenham for a third time in the Marsh Novices' Chase, which takes place on 18 March.
Cheveley Park released a statement on Monday morning, in which they said they were "horrified" and "dismayed" by the image.
The statement read: "We are truly horrified and dismayed by the photograph doing the rounds on social media. However, we will await the official outcome of the investigation by the IHRB, which we trust will be swift, before making any further comment/decisions."