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Denise Foster to take over from Gordon Elliott while trainer serves suspension

Sat 6 Mar 2021

Denise Foster has spoken of a “great responsibility” as she prepares to take over the reins at Gordon Elliott’s yard on Monday following the Grand National-winning trainer’s suspension.

Elliott was on Friday banned for 12 months, with the last six months suspended, following an Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board referrals hearing into the image posted on social media last weekend of the trainer sitting on a dead horse.

Like Elliott, Foster, who has sent out 10 winners over the past five seasons, on the Flat and over jumps combined, is based in County Meath.

An initial statement confirming the plans on Elliott’s official Twitter account was posted on Saturday afternoon, before being deleted and reposted to read: “Gordon Elliott Racing is pleased to confirm that Denise Foster will take over the licence at Cullentra Stables during the period of Gordon Elliott’s suspension.

Gordon Elliott has had his license suspended for six months by the IHRB
Gordon Elliott has had his license suspended for six months by the IHRB

“Denise is vastly experienced and her appointment is great news for staff and owners.”

A further statement said it hoped “the current level of employment provided at our stables will continue”, adding that all entries will be made by Foster and that she will be responsible for all operations.

An experienced horsewoman who has trained racehorses since 1998 when she took over from her husband, David Foster, a three-time Olympian, following his death in a riding accident, Foster will move her existing string from Enfield – around eight kilometres away – to Cullentra for the duration.

Foster enjoyed Listed success with Lily’s Rainbow in the 2016 Heritage Stakes at Navan and counts JP McManus as one of her owners.

"I don't think I've ever had a tougher few days in my life." - Camilla Sharples, travelling head girl to Gordon Elliott

She said: “I am honoured to take over from Gordon and realise he is a hard act to follow. I am delighted by the contacts I have had with the owners and staff to date. This is a great responsibility but I could not ask for a better set up.

“I will take charge from Monday.”

Having already imposed an interim suspension on Elliott-trained runners in Britain until the conclusion of the IHRB’s investigation, the British Horseracing Authority immediately confirmed it would reciprocate the ban.

However, the BHA added that Elliott’s horses would be allowed to run at Cheltenham and Aintree if “transferred directly to other licenced trainers prior to March 9.”

A spokesperson for the IHRB said on Saturday: “Anyone that would want to take over the care of horses on a different premises would need to be a licensed trainer.

“If a licensed trainer wanted to move from their own premises to a different premises, they would need to go to the licensing committee.

“That would not generally be a lengthy process.”

On Tuesday, leading owners Cheveley Park Stud moved their horses from Elliott to Willie Mullins and Henry de Bromhead. Among those was the unbeaten Envoi Allen, who has joined De Bromhead.

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