Mahmood al-Zarooni appeals against eight-year ban from training following Godolphin scandal

Al Zarooni was found guilty of administering anabolic steroids to 15 horses

If the British Horseracing Authority and Sheikh Mohammed had both hoped that the dust might finally begin to settle on the Godolphin steroids scandal, they were disappointed when its author unexpectedly contrived to stoke things up anew. Mahmood al-Zarooni was given an eight-year ban after conceding sole responsibility for 11 positive tests among 45 samples taken at his Newmarket yard last month, but has now lodged a protest against the severity of that penalty.

The candour of his admissions to an independent disciplinary panel had made an appeal seem an outlandish prospect, even after he sought advice on the possibility from Facebook friends. The disgraced trainer had described handing five unlabelled syringes from his car window to an assistant, together with a list of horses; and also how he had secreted the drugs among his luggage from Dubai. As such, regardless of any change to the outcome, the very fact that he now wishes to revisit the affair may be rather queasily received by regulators and former employers alike.

After all, his case was heard within 72 hours of the charges against him being made public, and he mysteriously waived his right to legal representation. Given his limited grasp of English, the absence of anyone competent to attempt some plea in mitigation seemed to leave the whole, hasty process open to a degree of unease.

The one exculpation offered by Zarooni himself was ignorance, use of steroids in training being permitted in certain other jurisdictions – not least Dubai itself – so long as they have cleared a horse’s system by raceday. Both the disciplinary panel and the Godolphin manager, Simon Crisford, refused to believe that he had been under any illusions about the status of the medication he appears to have introduced, in his own account, so surreptitiously. None the less the collective determination to disown Zarooni now appears to have invited fresh embarrassment, if only in the extension of the saga.

Seldom has the Chester May meeting, one of the most charming in the calendar, seemed such a welcome palliative. Though 12lb higher than when winning last year, Ile De Re returns to the Stan James Chester Cup only 4lb higher than when following up in the Northumberland Plate and represents a local yard seeking its third consecutive win. Countrywide Flame looks better weighted, being readily pardoned a lesser effort at Aintree after having just 23 days to absorb his superb third in the Champion Hurdle. He has a handy draw, a valid consideration even at this trip round these dizzy bends, but preference is for one berthed just inside.

Justification (2.45) has a top-class staying pedigree, by Montjeu out of the dam of Opera House and Kayf Tara, and has significantly been retained at Ballydoyle as a five-year-old gelding. He gave some indication why in a Leopardstown handicap last month, heavily backed for only his fifth career start and travelling well before seeing things out strongly. Better again is anticipated at this distance, and he looks lethally treated off 8st 8lb as a horse with entries for the Investec Coronation Cup and the Gold Cup at Ascot.

Charles Hills must have sound reasons for risking a low handicap mark for Premium (2.15) in the Weatherbys Bank Cheshire Oaks, while Smugglers Gold (1.45) and Last Sovereign (3.15) hold obvious interest in races that place an exorbitant premium on the draw. It will, as ever, be a white-knuckle ride for the jockeys – but they must still count themselves less vulnerable than their counterparts over jumps. A breakthrough season for Bryan Cooper ended with a literal break in a novice chase at Down Royal on Monday, of his left femur, and he will be sidelined until September.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there