Gordon Elliott: Irish trainer's first runner since suspension finishes 12th at Punchestown on Tuesday

Oh Purple Reign, Gordon Elliott's first runner for six months, finished 12th of 14 at Punchestown on Tuesday; Elliott's suspension for bringing horse racing into disrepute expired last Thursday; Elliott has four runners at Sligo on Wednesday

Trainer Gordon Elliott at Punchestown
Image: Trainer Gordon Elliott was at Punchestown on Tuesday to watch Oh Purple Reign

Gordon Elliott says it is "great to be back racing" as he returned to the track for the first time at Punchestown on Tuesday.

The leading Irish trainer was banned for 12 months, with half of that punishment suspended, after an image of him sitting on a dead horse was widely circulated on social media in March.

Elliott was also ordered to pay costs of €15,000 - with the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board stating the punishment reflected "the seriousness of the offence and the damage to the Irish racing industry" after the image provoked huge public outcry.

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After serving a ban of six months, during which time Denise Foster took temporary control of Cullentra stables, Elliott was free to begin making entries again from last Thursday - initially making five for Punchestown's Flat fixture.

But he declared only two runners - and with third reserve Alice Kitty failing to make the cut in race six, his solitary representative on Tuesday's card was recent winner Oh Purple Reign in the Donate To The Coast To The Curragh Cycle In Honour Of Pat Smullen Handicap.

Elliott watches on with the owners of Oh Purple Reign at Punchestown
Image: Elliott watches on with the owners of Oh Purple Reign at Punchestown

Ridden by Declan McDonogh, the four-year-old was the 9-2 second-favourite to follow up his Gowran Park victory of 13 days earlier, but was struggling towards the rear turning for home and ultimately beat just two rivals in 12th place behind 14-1 winner Khafaaq.

Elliott, who was in attendance at Punchestown, is set to saddle four runners on Wednesday's National Hunt card at Sligo.

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Irish journalist Daragh O’Conchuir believes Elliott has done his time and will now have the support of most of his colleagues

He said: "It's great to be back racing and seeing faces that I haven't seen in a long time.

"I would have obviously preferred if the horse ran a bit better, but it's nice to be back.

"I have really missed coming racing over the last few months, so I'm looking forward to getting back into that routine again."

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