Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Latest drugs scandal casts shadow over Sheikh Mohammed - the most powerful man in racing - Full Article

14 September 2013
by David Yates

Backer: Horseracing would be in dire straits without Sheikh Mohammed's cash

It was back in June 1977 that the John Dunlop-trained Hatta won Brighton’s Bevendene Maiden Stakes to give Sheikh Mohammed his first victory as a racehorse owner.

In the intervening years, the sheikh, his family and associates have won thousands of races — including hundreds at the highest level — and reshaped the landscape of the British turf.

The universally accepted way of viewing the Maktoums’ patronage of racing — not once have I heard contrary sentiments expressed in public — is to see it as nearly four decades of beneficence.

Racing is needy and the Maktoums are wealthy. We are lucky to have them — but, in every relationship, there is a tipping point. On Tuesday, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced the seizure of a cache of 124 unlicensed veterinary medicines at Moorley Farm, part of Sheikh Mohammed’s Dalham Hall Stud estate in Newmarket.

Moorley Farm is where endurance horses — who compete in long-distance events of up to 100 miles, held in Britain and all over the world — not thoroughbreds, are housed, so the British Horseracing Authority immediately distanced itself from action.

On Wednesday, the Maktoums’ endurance trainer Jaume Punti Dachs issued a statement to protest there was “nothing sinister” about the affair — although DEFRA has yet to conclude its report, and a criminal investigation by the police remains a possibility...

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