Betfair Fires Its Brand Ambassador Over Controversial Images

March 4th, 2021 4.00pm

Online gambling giant Betfair has announced it has ended all business relations with one of its brand ambassadors.

The three-time winner of the Grand National, Gordon Elliott, has gotten tangled in a scandal recently after pictures of him sitting on a dead horse were released online.

The gambling exchange and sportsbook brand owned by Flutter Entertainment was quick to react to images that show the Irish racing trainer poses on top of the dead animal, flashing a “V for victory” sign.

And while we have chosen not to post the said image, it has been widely circulated on social media, causing outrage around the internet. The photograph shows Elliott straddling the dead animal while holding a mobile phone and showing a “V for victory” sign. As soon as the photo went viral, it sparked condemnation.

Poor Judgement Is Not an Excuse

In a press statement posted on Monday, Betfair explained its decision to cut all ties with Elliot. It said that although he had apologised for what was deemed as “poor judgement”, Elliot’s actions were against everything the renowned brand stands for.

Elliot was the first to issue a lengthy statement. On Sunday, he said the horse died from a heart attack and pointed out a phone call distracted him as they waited for the dead horse to be removed.

Elliott proceeded to apologise to the entire racing community, everyone who loved horses and worked with them, and to anyone offended by the image.

The three-time winner of the Grand National stated his team paid particular attention to horses’ care and welfare. He added such an approach was at the core of everything they did. Elliot explained that members of his team prided themselves on those high standards.

According to available information, the controversial photo was taken a couple of years ago. Although we don’t know who took it, it was initially uploaded to Twitter this weekend, to an account not connected to Elliott.

An Investigation Could Disrupt the Cheltenham Festival

Earlier this week, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board announced it would begin an independent investigation on the matter. The regulatory body banned Elliott from attending any racing event held in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland until the investigation is concluded.

After riding as an amateur, Elliott first made the headlines back in 2007, after leading Silver Birch to victory. That was his first Grand National entry, and although his horse was an outsider, he managed to become the youngest ever trainer to win the prestigious event. It took more than a decade to repeat the feat. Tiger Roll won the race back-to-back in 2018 and 2019 and was only the sixth winner in the Grand National history to do so.

Elliott became a brand ambassador for Betfair in 2016. Since then, he has been regularly posting news about the horseracing industry and his runners. At the same time, he was frequently featured in Betfair’s promotional campaigns.

In its statement, issued a couple of days ago, the British Horseracing Authority stated it was “appalled” by the image. However, the BHA is worried that their Irish colleagues’ investigation could cause problems for the upcoming edition of the Cheltenham Festival, which is scheduled to take place later this month.

The Festival is the biggest and most prestigious event in the British horseracing industry. The organisers are worried the scandal could disrupt the event, as Elliott is scheduled to run several horses in Cheltenham.

Headquartered in London and Dublin, Betfair operates the world’s largest online betting exchange, also offers its customers Sportsbook, online casino, online poker and online bingo.

Elliott has apologised since.