Gordon Elliott: Denise Foster to take over as licensed trainer at Cullentra Stables

Denise Foster: "I am honoured to take over from Gordon and realise he is a hard act to follow. I am delighted by the contacts I have had with the owners and staff to date"; move opens up the chance for horses from Cullentra to run at the Cheltenham Festival

Gordon Elliott's one-year suspension begins on March 9
Image: Gordon Elliott's one-year suspension begins on March 9

Gordon Elliott has confirmed that Denise Foster will take his place as the licensed trainer at Cullentra Stables during the period of his suspension.

Foster, who has sent out 10 winners over the past five seasons, on the Flat and over jumps combined, will take over the licence at Cullentra House in the coming days, and take charge of the horses from the yard that are set to run at this month's Cheltenham Festival.

"I am honoured to take over from Gordon and realise he is a hard act to follow," Foster said in a statement.

"I am delighted by the contacts I have had with the owners and staff to date. This a great responsibility but I could not ask for a better set up. I will take charge from Monday."

Elliott has been handed a year-long ban, beginning on March 9, by the Irish Horse Racing Regulatory Board, the final six months of which have been suspended, after an investigation into a photo of him sitting on a dead horse.

An initial statement confirming the plan for Foster to take over was posted on Elliott's official Twitter account on Saturday afternoon, before being deleted and reposted to read: "Gordon Elliott Racing is pleased to confirm that Denise Foster will take over the licence at Cullentra Stables during the period of Gordon Elliott's suspension.

"Denise is vastly experienced and her appointment is great news for staff and owners."

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A further statement said it hoped "the current level of employment provided at our stables will continue", adding that all entries will be made by Foster and that she will be responsible for all operations.

An experienced horsewoman who has trained racehorses since 1998 when she took over from her husband, David Foster, a three-time Olympian, following his death in a riding accident, Foster will move her existing string from Enfield - around eight kilometres away - to Cullentra for the duration.

Foster enjoyed Listed success with Lily's Rainbow in the 2016 Heritage Stakes at Navan and counts JP McManus as one of her owners.

Having already imposed an interim suspension on Elliott-trained runners in Britain until the conclusion of the IHRB's investigation, the British Horseracing Authority immediately confirmed it would reciprocate the ban.

However, the BHA added that Elliott's horses would be allowed to run at Cheltenham and Aintree if "transferred directly to other licenced trainers prior to March 9."

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A spokesperson for the IHRB said on Saturday: "Anyone that would want to take over the care of horses on a different premises would need to be a licensed trainer.

"If a licensed trainer wanted to move from their own premises to a different premises, they would need to go to the licensing committee.

"That would not generally be a lengthy process."

On Tuesday, leading owners Cheveley Park Stud moved their horses from Elliott to Willie Mullins and Henry de Bromhead. Among those was the unbeaten Envoi Allen, who has joined De Bromhead.

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