Yet another drug scandal hits the world of sport as the Godolphin stable is thrown into the spotlight after 11-horses failed a drug test administered by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), and The Jockey Club becomes the first company to issue retail bonds in British Sporting history.
The world of sport has once again been plunged into the headlines for all of the wrong reasons as the world renowned horse racing stable Godolphin, has been thrown into chaos after 11 horses were found to have been administered with anabolic steroids during their training period in Newmarket.
It’s a scandal of ‘Lance Armstrong’ scale and the biggest drugs scandal to hit the sport of kings since the Roman Empire were holding races in the Roman Coliseum. It comes just weeks after the world of horse racing was once again in the spotlight surrounding safety concerns for horses running in the worlds most famous jump race – The Grand National.
It has taken Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum twenty years to create the Godolphin reputation, and it’s going to take a lot of work to try and revive it, as it lies in life support courtesy of a moment of madness from Godolphin’s second trainer, Mahmood Al Zarooni; a man employed by the Sheikh himself.
Sheikh Mohammed told the Times: “I have been involved in British horse racing for 30-years and have deep respect for its traditions and rules,” he continued. “I built my country on the same solid principles. There can be no excuse for any deliberate violation.
I can assure the racing public that no horse will run from that yard until I have been absolutely assured by my team that the entire yard is completely clean. I have worked hard to ensure that Godolphin deserves its reputation for integrity and sportsmanship and I have reiterated to all employees that I will not tolerate this type of behavior.”
When you consider that Godolphin severed their ties with Frankie Dettori after 19-years of loyal service last year, the future looks very grim for Al Zarooni who has since admitted to the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) that he doped four more horses that were not amongst the 45-tested, taking the total number of misdemeanors to 15 affected.
The affected horses will run again, but it’s highly unlikely that they will run in the coming weeks. That means that the much-fancied ‘Certify’ – one of the affected horses – will not take part in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas. The bookmakers have reacted by agreeing to refund more than a £1 million placed on ante-post bets on affected horses.
David Williams of Ladbrokes told the Times, “Certify was one of the most popular ante-post horses of the season. She was the big race favorite all winter, but given the circumstances we feel it’s only fair customers get their money back.”
The total cost to Ladbrokes is £200,000 with Coral and William Hill also announcing they will be doing likewise. The company that has a position in its hierarchy called ‘Head of Mischief’ has also sprung into action. The Irish laugh-a-minute team at Paddy Power has begun offering odds on the likely punishment meted out to the shamed Godolphin trainer.
Al Zarooni has admitted that he is the only person responsible for administering the steroids, whilst quite remarkably saying he didn’t realize that steroids were banned during training. The BHA has charged the trainer with three rules breaches: the administration of prohibited substances, the duty to keep medication records and conduct prejudicial to horse racing.
With the stable in lockdown it’s believed Sheikh Mohammed will lose out in millions in prize money as well as seeing his breeding regime thrown out of a state of equilibrium that could cost so much more. To put things into perspective, the BHA announced that throughout 7,200 race day drug tests, in 2012, only 14 were found to be positive.
The Jockey Club Makes British Sporting History
Onto a more happier horse racing note and the Jockey Club is set to make history with news that it’s going to release the first-ever retail bond in British sport. The largest commercial group in British horse racing that owns Cheltenham, Aintree, Epsom Downs and Newmarket racecourses is offering a rate of 7.75% gross interest per annum with a twist.
The twist comes in the fine print that says 3% of that 7.75% will be paid in ‘Rewards4Racing Points’, to be spent at any of the Jockey Club’s 15 racecourses nationwide. 4.75% will be returned in cash. The initial offering will be made to the clubs 230,000 subscribers before opening the offer to a much wider market. Punters can invest anywhere between £2,000 and £100,000 over a five-year term.
The decision to turn to retail bonds is a bid to raise at least £15 million to put towards a new £45 million Grandstand at Cheltenham Racecourse. In 2012, The Jockey Club achieved record results for the second consecutive year. The Group achieved its highest-ever turnover (£150.3m) and operating profits (£19.8m), whilst also making a record contribution in prize money (£16.5m). Percentage wise, turnover grew 8% year-on-year and operating profits were up 3%.