Cheating in horse racing with the use of illegal drugs is usually about greed or ego or both, and the USA are usually seen as the shameful face of it around the world. Not any more. Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum has brought this filthy tactic and blighted the reputation of British horse racing and the empire he created, Godolphin.
We say take your horses and go home. But can British horse racing afford for him to do so? Maybe not.
When the Aga Khan was busted — who had a similar sort of investment for the times — he took his horses away and boycotted British horse racing saying he would never race there again. The British Horseracing Authority seem terrified Sheikh Mohammed may do the same if pressed too hard.
I remember when Sheikh Mohammed took his horses away from Sir Henry Cecil’s yard at Warren Hill in Newmarket. There were some who predicted it would cripple Sir Henry and perhaps even close his famously successful training facility. That did not happen, although there were some hard times. Sir Henry went on of course to train one of the greatest racehorses of all time, Frankel.
JOHN F BURNS reporting the The New York Times reports:
- NEWMARKET, England — It is called the sport of kings and it has been in this haven of racecourses, stables and studs since the 17th century, when King Charles I and his courtiers made the 100-mile journey here by horse-drawn carriages.
But the town has never known a darker passage than the past week. Another monarch, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai, and Godolphin, his global horse racing enterprise, have been the talk of Britain after what The Times of London described as British racing’s “Lance Armstrong moment.”
On Monday, the British Horseracing Authority announced that 11 of the sheik’s best horses tested positive for banned anabolic steroids, including stanozolol and ethylestrenol, which can give horses a muscle strength that is well beyond their natural capacity. Forty-five Godolphin horses were tested in an out-of-competition sweep earlier this month at the Moulton Paddocks stables.
Godolphin, which has a billion-dollar roster of 5,000 racehorses stabled in 12 countries, including the United States and Japan, quickly announced that its own tests found four more of its Newmarket-based horses had banned steroids in their systems.
Although the drugs are strictly barred in Britain during training and competition, several other countries, including Australia, Dubai and the United States, allow their use in training, as long as they are not present in a horse’s system on the day of a race.
Godolphin announced an immediate lockdown of Moulton Paddocks, with no further competition for its 100 horses until all have cleared drugs tests and the stable is judged to be completely clean. The 15 horses that tested positive for steroids were barred from racing for six months.
How disgraceful. How disappointing. How useless.
And this from PAUL HAYWARD reporting for The Telegraph:
- In an interview last year with Geoffrey Riddle for The National, a United Arab Emirates-based newspaper, Al Zarooni said of Sheikh Mohammed:
“He’s my master. He’s the one telling me to do this, this, this. He calls me daily, nearly. He must be so busy. He runs a whole country, but often he comes here to watch the gallops, sometimes for morning and evening lots.
“It is his idea how to work the horses. What they do exactly, what pace they go and over which distances they run. He tells me: ‘Mahmood feed that horse this, or this horse doesn’t look too good’, and so on.”
If you must bet, bet on something else folks. There’s plenty to be had. Without gambling there is no horse racing industry. Doping is just the tip of this Titanic style iceberg.
— Second British Trainer Admits to Steroid Use; The Blood-Horse; 29 Apr 2013