High street bookmakers are to repay stakes placed on horses caught up in one of the biggest doping scandals in British racing history.
The decision follows the revelation that 11 horses at the Godolphin stables in Newmarket under trainer Mahmoood Al Zarooni tested positive for banned substances including steroids. The stables are owned by the stables owned by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum who has spent huge sums of money on the sport.
Ladbrokes expect to pay £200,000 to customers after deciding to return ante-post stakes placed on the horses including Certify, one of the favourites for the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.
William Hill followed suit by returning stakes on the four horses it has taken bets on - Certify and Desert Blossom in the 1000 Guineas, and Restraint of Trade and Artigiana in the 2000 Guineas. Coral was reported to be offering refunds on the same horses and Paddy Power on Certify.
Ciaran O'Brien, of Ladbrokes, said: “We are paying back all stakes on the horses that are involved in the investigation. We just don't think customers should be penalised by something that's completely outside the normal circumstances. And we are giving them back their stakes.”
A spokesman for William Hill said: “We have been astounded by the totally unprecedented set of circumstances that have been made public today and we are as shocked as anybody that such a decorated stable is having allegations of this nature levelled towards it. Any bets wagered on affected horses involved in forthcoming races have been refunded.”
It appeared unlikely, however, that stakes will be returned for lost bets on other horses which might have been kept out of the top places in other races by the 11 which have tested positive for banned substances.