Will Irish Jumps Racing Become A Monopoly?
12-month Ban for Elliott
Following the announcement of 12-month ban from horse racing for top Irish trainer Gordon Elliott after being photographed sitting on a dead horse, Envoi Allen has been moved from his stable and will now be trained by Henry de Bromhead.
From a racing and betting perspective, that is the most tangible impact of Elliott’s ‘indefensible moment of madness’ (his words).
Irish National Hunt racing has become almost a duopoly, with Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins having the backing of wealthy owners. Both trainers can afford to buy the horses with the most potential so they win the best races and can attract more owners.
Elliott & Mullins Dominance
This table illustrates their dominance because it shows who trained the Irish winners at the last three Cheltenham Festivals:
|Henry de Bromhead||1||2||2||5|
Elliott and Mullins accounted for 34 of 44 Irish trained winners (77.27%). Only Henry de Bromhead had more than one winner over that three-year-spell.
There were 84 races at the festival from 2018 to 2020 and Elliott and Mullins trained 40.48% of the winners. Irish trainers had a win rate of 52.38%.
What’s the current situation?
The current situation in an ever-changing story is that Elliott cannot run any horses in Britain. The Irish racing held an investigation on March 5th when Elliott’s future was decided and a 12-month ban was issued.
Betfair have ended Gordon Elliott’s contact, his stable’s major backers have withdrawn their support and owners, Cheveley Park Stud, have removed their eight horses, including Envoi Allen. Michael O’Leary, in his role with Gigginstown House Stud, has said he will continue to support Elliott.
O’Leary is also the CEO of Ryanair who by association will be embroiled in the outcome of the investigation. While a significant fine and a ban is warranted, the damage to his reputation could be far-reaching.
The Gigginstown operation is being wound down regardless of this issue which could accelerate the end of their involvement in Irish National Hunt racing. They withdrew Tiger Roll, trained by Elliott, from the Grand National because they believed the weight allocation was unfair.
It looks like Mullins and de Bromhead will be the main beneficiaries of Elliott’s demise. Purely on a sporting level that is a negative because a duopoly could become a monopoly. Without meaningful competition, Irish jumps racing suffers and that’s before the implications for horse welfare issues.