Godolphin's rebuilding operation begins

As the British Horseracing Association prepares to send in veterinarians to Moulton Paddock at Newmarket, Godolphin begin the process of rebuilding the operation in the wake of former trainer Mahmoud Al Zarooni's disclosure of using banned substances on 15 horses. Geoffrey Riddle reports.

Sajjhaa, under a work rider, gallops on the all-weather track at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong.
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London // British Horseracing Authority veterinarian testers went in to Godolphin's Moulton Paddocks stables at Newmarket on Friday to begin the process of checking the passports of each of the estimated 200 horses that were under the aegis of former trainer Mahmoud Al Zarooni, who has been banned from the sport for eight years for doping 15 horses.

Jenny Hall, the BHA chief vet, and a veterinarian's assistant, will begin testing Monday, and the results will be relayed to Godolphin after processing by HFL Sport Science, the independent drug surveillance body.

To the backdrop of the testing there is the small matter of how Godolphin will continue to function in Britain.

On Thursday Simon Crisford, the Dubai-based operation's racing manager, stated that a restructure is to take place and that he was awaiting a blueprint as envisaged by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and the founder and driving force of the international stable.

Crisford arrived in Dubai on Friday.

Al Zarooni's two assistant trainers in Newmarket, who played no part in the administration of prohibited substances, do not have a full trainer's licence, which is required for the stable to remain open as a training centre.

"We are working with Godolphin, in a pretty tight time frame of something like five to 10 days, to ensure that the stable remains licensed, although there won't be a licensed trainer, " said Paul Bittar, chief executive of the BHA.

"It's likely that [Saeed] bin Suroor will have oversight for a lot of the horses, or Godolphin may choose to decide that Moulton Paddocks will not be used at all during the course of the summer.

"Godolphin and Sheikh Mohammed have given us a commitment that they will cooperate fully with all of our requirements in terms of investigations."

Bin Suroor has been in Hong Kong this week putting the finishing touches to Sajjhaa, the Dubai Duty Free winner, for today's Audemars Piguet QEII Cup.

Sajjhaa's victory last month in the US$5 million (Dh18.35m) contest at Meydan Racecourse capped a remarkable season that saw her thrice beat Igugu, Mike de Kock's South African champion, who renews their rivalry in the Group 1 contest to be contested over 2,000m.

Godolphin have not had a runner in the race at Sha Tin Racecourse since Grandera in 2002 and the dual Group 1 winner would provide Godolphin with a much-needed fillip if the six-year-old mare could add to Overbury's success in 1996.

"Sajjhaa is doing well and is ready to race," Bin Suroor said.

"I have been pleased with her preparation and she has settled in well.

"She has improved with every race this season and we are looking for another big run from her again.

"Her last two victories, in the Jebel Hatta and the Dubai Duty Free, came against colts and she has proved that she is a top-class mare.

"She has won three times over nine furlongs this year and I don't think that the extra furlong will be a problem, especially at a course like Sha Tin."

Joining Sajjhaa in the 13-runner field is Igugu's stablemate Treasure Beach, who was eighth to Animal Kingdom in the Dubai World Cup, and Ambitious Dragon, who flopped in the 2012 Dubai Duty Free behind Cityscape.

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