Sunday, April 28, 2013

Great Britain: The Godolphin scandal: a race for respectability - Full Article

Newmarket is hoping confidence will return after the most serious crisis British racing has ever faced

By Cole Moreton9:00PM BST
27 Apr 2013

They step through the early morning drizzle with a catwalk grace. A dozen gorgeous horses in a line, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not more. The traffic stops at the sight of them, because Newmarket is a racing town that respects these dawn patrols.

As the thoroughbreds cross the road, their hooves clatter and their riders mutter gossip to each other in many different languages. There is a lot to talk about. Their sport is reeling this weekend from one of the greatest scandals it has ever known.

“It is shocking, a complete surprise,” says Tim Cox, a historian and trustee of the National Racing Museum. “The use of steroids in this way, and such a public exposure, is unique in the history of racing.”

The discovery of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in 11 horses at the Moulton Paddocks, which sits behind locked gates on a hill two miles out of Newmarket, was such a huge shock because of the man who owns it. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is one of the most influential figures in racing across the world, with a massive training operation called Godolphin that is based both in Dubai and in this Suffolk town.

He is also the ruler of Dubai, who has spent a large portion of his estimated £10 billion fortune using sport to promote his desert state as a centre of excellence, innovation and sportsmanship. The Sheikh has declared himself “appalled and angered” by the discovery and “locked down” the stables until they are proved to be clean, but what will this do to his reputation? This is not just a story about the secretive world of horse racing. It goes way beyond that, into the realms of international politics, power and pride...

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