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Owner Reynolds voices support for Elliott

Prominent owner Philip Reynolds has vowed to support trainer Gordon Elliott, while launching an impassioned plea for people to find it in their hearts “not to destroy him”.

Reynolds has eight horses at the County Meath yard, including top staying chaser Presenting Percy, and intends to keep them with Elliott despite a photo of the trainer sitting on a dead horse on his gallops being posted on social media at the weekend.

Elliott faces an Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board hearing on Friday to consider the matter, with the British Horseracing Authority also having announced he will not be permitted to have runners in Britain until the issue is resolved.

Reynolds admitted his own sense of “shock, horror, disappointment, anger and sadness” at the photo, which resulted in fellow owners Cheveley Park Stud removing their eight horses from the yard on Tuesday – including unbeaten superstar Envoi Allen.

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He believes the “scars of this week” are the “ultimate punishment” for Elliott – and underlined his personal, positive experiences at the Cullentra stable.

In a statement, Reynolds said: “None of us has a monopoly on shock, horror, disappointment, anger and sadness – and having spent my life owning horses and in the pet industry, believe me, in this case, I own as much of those feelings as anyone else.

“My professional relationship with Gordon dates back more than five years. In that regard and having been to his yard a number of times, I have no hesitation saying his facilities are world class – and as a trainer, well, his record speaks for itself.

“I would love people to hear the many stories of how, and only because of his deep understanding and passion, he revived and made horses champions again.

“Not just the big names like Silver Birch or Samcro, but the many much lesser lights whose owners’ Grand Nationals were won mid-week in the pouring rain in small tracks up and down the country.

Owner Philip Reynolds at Cheltenham
Owner Philip Reynolds at Cheltenham (Steven Paston/PA)

“But sadly it seems in this discourse there is little room. I know no matter what I say there will be folks who believe no punishment will be strong enough. I accept their view. Mine is from a sense of forgiveness.

“The authorities will deal with Gordon, but his trial has already played out. We have stripped him bare and flogged him in public. The scars of this week are his ultimate punishment, ones that will live him him long after we have all moved on to the next event.

“For all these reasons, and accepting this is a one-time error of judgement, I will stay with Gordon – and I hope we can all find it in our hearts not to destroy him.

“He’s only human.”

Like Reynolds, Gigginstown House Stud signalled their support for Elliott earlier in the week, describing the photo in question as “unacceptable” but stating their horses would remain at the yard.

Presenting Percy takes Ladbrokes Champion Chase test

Presenting Percy is set to face eight rivals as he has his first run for trainer Gordon Elliott in the Grade One Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal.

Owner Philip Reynolds switched his star from Pat Kelly’s stable after the nine-year-old’s winless last campaign ended with a fall in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Presenting Percy has not won over fences since showing his class in the RSA Chase at the 2018 Festival.

He will have a new rider in Denis O’Regan, because his regular partner Davy Russell is on the long-term injury list.

Half of the opposition on Saturday will come from his own stable – with Elliott also declaring Alpha Des Obeaux, Delta Work, Ravenhill and The Storyteller in a race featuring representatives from just three stables.

Henry de Bromhead is double-handed with Balko Des Flos and Chris’s Dream – while Noel Meade’s pair Snow Falcon and Tout Est Permis complete the field.

Elsewhere on the card, all eyes will be on another Elliott inmate when his dual Cheltenham Festival winner Samcro makes his seasonal reappearance in the Lough Construction Ltd Chase.

The highly-regarded eight-year-old got his career firmly back on track with victory in the Marsh Novices’ Chase.

Elliott also supplies Battleoverdoyen in a field of five – completed by Easy Game, Sizing Pottsie and Yaha Fizz.