A family self-portrait that was rudely photobombed by a grinning horse has been declared rightful winner of a competition, despite a complaint that the horse's owner had not given permission for the shot.

David Bellis last night made the photo his profile picture on his Facebook page (above). It was taken by his son Jacob (pictured)

David Bellis, from Prestatyn, Denbighshire, had entered the controversial photo showing Betty the horse in the ‘Made Me Smile’ competition run by Thomson Holidays.

Bellis said the photo – which sent social media into a frenzy yesterday – was taken on a public footpath.

Captured by David’s three-year-old son Jacob, the selfie went on to win top prize, prompting the horse’s owner Nicola Mitchell to reportedly claim she had the right to a share of the £2,000 holiday.

‘I was really annoyed to hear he had won a £2,000 holiday and had used a picture of our horse without permission,’ Mitchell was quoted as telling The Times newspaper.

‘It’s not like it’s just £100 – £2,000 is a lot of money and would go a long way for a family…’

However, despite her complaint, the Bellis family were last night declared legitimate winners.

In a tongue-in-cheek response, a spokeswoman for Thomson today confirmed to Amateur Photographer: ‘Our Blue Monday competition was meant to make people smile on what’s been deemed the most depressing day of the year [18 January].

‘Despite questions over foal play, Mr Bellis and his family will be getting the £2,000 holiday prize they won after entering our #‎MadeMeSmile competition.

‘Hoof a great holiday!’