Leading owners Cheveley Park Stud remove their horses from Elliott yard

Cheveley Park Stud have become the first major owner to remove horses from Gordon Elliott following the emergence over the weekend of a distressing image of the trainer sitting on a dead horse.

Richard Thompson, a Cheveley Park director and the son of the stud's owner Patricia Thompson, confirmed eight horses would be leaving Elliott and they would be split between Willie Mullins and Henry de Bromhead.

Envoi Allen, the unbeaten superstar and short-priced favourite for the Grade 1 Marsh Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, will join De Bromhead alongside JCB Triumph Hurdle contender Quilixios, while Mullins will take charge of Weatherbys Champion Bumper hope Sir Gerhard.

Cheveley Park had released a statement on Monday saying they were "horrified and dismayed" at the photograph of Elliott, who confirmed the photo was genuine on Sunday evening, but that any decision on moving horses would be made after an IHRB hearing into the investigation.

However, the BHA subsequently announced entries for Elliott would not be accepted pending the IHRB investigation concluding and Cheveley Park opted to move the horses following discussions on Tuesday.

Speaking to Sky Sports Racing, Richard Thompson said: "We made a decision this morning to move the horses from Gordon's yard. We have eight and they will go between Henry de Bromhead and Willie Mullins. We're organising it right now. 

"The big horse, Envoi Allen, will go to Henry with Sir Gerhard to Willie. Quilixios will go to Henry. With trainers like Henry and Willie, along with Chris [Richardson, managing director] and team, we have real professionals on the job to hopefully resolve this very quickly and for it to be very smooth. It is unfortunate timing [so close to the Cheltenham Festival]."

A referrals committee hearing into the Elliott investigation will take place on Friday, the IHRB confirmed on Tuesday.

The trainer should be "held fully accountable for his actions" according to Jack Chambers, Ireland's minister of state for sport. 

Speaking on broadcaster RTE, Chambers said: "Consequences are important and he needs to be held fully accountable.

"Everything should be on the table. Ireland has to set a high bar when it comes to animal standards."

There was further condemnation of the image from Britain on Tuesday, with the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) backing the decision of the BHA to suspend Elliott's ability to have runners.

In a statement, the ROA said: "Owners expect their horses to be treated with the utmost compassion, care and respect; be that before, during or after their careers. Owners expect those values to be upheld at all times when placing their horse with a trainer and their staff.

"The confidence of owners and all those who watch and engage with our sport throughout the world is underpinned by the principle that the welfare of the horse is paramount and sacrosanct to all those who earn their living from looking after and caring for horses.

"The ROA supports fully the interim decision taken by the BHA to suspend any horses trained by Mr Elliott to race in Britain whilst the IHRB continues with its own investigation."