UAE trainer Mahmoud Al Zarooni returns for Meydan’s opening meet after eight-year ban

Former Godolphin trainer was found guilty in April 2013 after 11 horses at the Moulton Paddocks Stables tested positive for anabolic steroids

Mahmood Al Zarooni in April 2013 when he was found guilty of doping violations and handed an eight-year ban from racing. AFP
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Meydan stages its first meeting of the season on Thursday and the spotlight is likely to focus on former Godolphin trainer Mahmoud Al Zarooni.

Al Zarooni returns to the racecourse having served an eight-year ban for a doping case after the British Horseracing Association disciplinary committee found him guilty in April 2013.

The Emirati, who saddled 12 Group 1 winners in less than four years when based in Newmarket, admitted being in breach of the rules of racing after 11 horses at Godolphin's Moulton Paddocks Stables tested positive for anabolic steroids.

“I have to rebuild my reputation,” Al Zarooni told the Racing Post on his return to training. “What I did was a big mistake. I learned a lot of lessons and now I have to prove myself again and show this mistake will not happen again.

“I should have been banned, for the mistake I made I deserved a ban, 100 per cent. I don't disagree. I should have been punished, but I disagreed with the length.

“I thought they would ban me for two or three years, maximum four. When they said eight, I felt it was very harsh.”

Al Zarooni has two runners – Major Cinnamon and Midnight Deal - entered in Meydan’s seven-race thoroughbred card.

Major Cinnamon won his first race in 10 starts over the 1,200-metre trip at Meydan when trained by Marwan Abdul Rahman, now Al Zarooni’s assistant.

Midnight Deal runs in the concluding maiden. The Ghostzapper colt has a second and third-place finish in seven starts.

“I went through a very difficult time, I had no income and I have a family and children,” Al Zarooni said.

“They want to live, to eat, to go to school, to do many things. I had to manage and control things as much as I could to carry on. I want everyone to learn from my mistake because it's very difficult when you have no income.

“I have been doing nothing. I was watching racing and reading news about horses. Hearing them in the morning, watching them work, it's special. I'm very happy I'm back doing what I like and I'll give it everything.”

Doug Watson, who saddled four winners in the season opener at Jebel Ali and bagged the solitary prize up for grabs for the thoroughbreds at Sharjah, has 12 runners across six races at the meeting.

The seven-time UAE champion trainer’s Al Qaqaa seems to be the pick of them, having run three times to finish third twice and runner-up in his last start in Dubai last season.

The four-year-old War Front gelding already has a win under his belt in six starts in the UK.

Race card:

7pm: Maiden (TB) Dh 82,500 (Dirt) 1,400m

7.30pm: Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (D) 2,000m

8pm: Rated Conditions (TB) Dh95,000 (D) 1,200m

8.30pm: Rated Conditions (TB) Dh95,000 (D) 2,000m

9pm: Conditions (TB) Dh100,000 (D) 1,400m

9.30pm: Handicap (TB) Dh95,000 (D) 1,600m

10pm: Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (D) 1,600m

Updated: November 04, 2021, 8:59 AM