The British Racing Authority, while criticising Godolphin for significant failings in management and process, have found that nobody other than Mahmood al-Zarooni was responsible for doping horses at Sheikh Mohammed’s Moulton Paddocks, a scandal which rocked the racing world earlier this year.
Zarooni was banned for eight years last April for administering anabolic steroids to 15 of the stable’s horses, but the BHA accepted in a report published today that his superiors had no knowledge of the trainer’s misdemeanours.
Crucially, they also found that Zarooni’s assistant at the time, Charlie Appleby, was unaware of what was going on either, and that gives the 38-year-old the all-clear to take charge at the 200-strong Newmarket stable with immediate effect. Indeed, the BHA noted that Appleby has already begun implementing the changes to the management structure and procedures demanded in their report.
Paul Bittar, Chief Executive of the BHA, said: “Fortunately cases such as this – both in terms of scale and profile – are incredibly rare. However, there are areas where we can learn from the issues raised.
“While we believe the sport’s independent regulation has stood up throughout this process, the BHA is committed to continue to fight against those who attempt to cheat the sport.”
Meanwhile St Nicholas Abbey, badly injured in a routine piece of work on Tuesday, has survived lengthy and complicated surgery to fuse his pastern, but is by no means out of danger and will remain in intensive care for some time.
His racing career is over, but the six-year-old son of Montjeu, apart from being an extremely popular inmate at Ballydoyle, is also potentially a most valuable asset as a stallion. Everyone at Coolmore Stud hopes that his “marvellous attitude and temperament” stand him in good stead, as it did Mill Reef, the 1971 Derby winner, who recovered from a broken leg to become one of the most successful sires of the 20th century.
There were no surprise withdrawals for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at yesterday’s declaration stage, but Diescentric, ante-post favourite for Ascot’s chief supporting race, the International Handicap, has been taken out because of the fast ground.
Glorious Goodwood’s just around the corner now and one of the highlights of the five-day Festival will be the third clash of the year between Jim Bolger’s Dawn Approach and Richard Hannon’s Toronado in the Sussex Stakes, won for the past two years by Frankel.
Dawn Approach leads two-nil after wins in the 2000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes, but there was only a whisker in it at Royal Ascot and this duel has plenty more mileage.
Chris McGrath's nap
Medici Time (6.30 York) bounced back to form with a near miss at Redcar last time and looks ready to strike again from a good draw.
Broxbourne (3.10 Ascot) has done most of her winning over shorter distances than this, but has given the distinct impression that this is her optimum trip.
One to watch
Buchanan (Henry Candy) swooped fast and late to win on his debut at Lingfield on Wednesday and looks bound for much better things.
Where the money's going
Ashaadd has been steadily backed all week for tomorrow’s International Handicap at Ascot and might well go off favourite.