x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 February 2018

Changes in saddle at Godolphin to ensure Dubai operation’s firm hold

Simon Crisford’s workload as Godolphin racing manager was always going to be too much for one man, something the Dubai operation has addressed, says Geoffrey Riddle.

Simon Crisford for many years has been the public face for Godolphin and will now move into the role of racing adviser for the operation's worldwide activities. Victor Fraile / Reuters
Simon Crisford for many years has been the public face for Godolphin and will now move into the role of racing adviser for the operation's worldwide activities. Victor Fraile / Reuters

A Godolphin restructure was inevitable. From a small, elite band of equine talent when it started in 1992 under the guidance of Simon Crisford and Saeed bin Suroor, the international stable has mushroomed into an enterprise that spans the world.

The equine empire of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, goes beyond the Royal Blue silks of Godolphin, which have raced in more than 16 countries.

The huge Darley Australia operation and a blossoming presence in Japan is a growing aspect to Sheikh Mohammed’s global outlook.

The racing and breeding operation is without comparison and has moved to address the shortcomings exposed by last year’s Mahmoud Al Zarooni doping scandal.

Crisford is to oversee Sheikh Mohammed’s worldwide operation and, crucially, those of his family and entourage, as a racing adviser having left Godolphin.

This remit is likely to include horses that race in the colours of Sheikh Mohammed bin Mohammed – of which in England there are about 100 – and perhaps could extend to those that race for the Newmarket-based Rabbah Bloodstock, which was set up under former jockey Bruce Raymond to cater for the Dubai ruler’s associates.

Crisford’s role will no longer encompass the punishing media duties that came with being the public face of Godolphin worldwide and those duties will be taken up by Bin Suroor and Charlie Appleby.

Both trainers will have their roles “re-emphasised”, meaning that they now know with certainty, as if they did not already, that they are ultimately responsible for their actions within those stables.

It was never made clear to Al Zarooni that anabolic steroids were banned from racing in Britain and it was assumed – rightly but with disastrous consequences – that he knew the rules of racing in each country in which he operated before he was banned for eight years for using them in his stable.

Crisford was clearly stretched in the various aspects of his racing manager role and one of the cornerstones to his defence after the criticism he received over the Al Zarooni steroids scandal was that it was not possible for one man to know all of what occurred in the stables of Bin Suroor and Al Zarooni. When you add to those the stables of Kiaran McLaughlin in America, Andre Fabre in France and Peter Snowden in Australia, who is to leave this year, it is clear Godolphin needed management support.

Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police commissioner, was drafted in by Sheikh Mohammed to provide a comprehensive report on all of his equine affairs, including endurance racing. In response to his findings that Godolphin’s management was indeed lacking, Hugh Anderson will continue in Newmarket as chief operating officer, a post he has held for nearly seven years, but will also become managing director of Godolphin.

Anderson, a former barrister and officer in the Royal Navy, will oversee all services in support of Bin Suroor and Appleby. He will report to the board of directors, which has also been overhauled with the addition of Sheikh Juma bin Dalmook, a prominent racehorse owner and endurance rider who represented the UAE at the London Olympics in 2012, and Altaf Noorani.

With Crisford’s role gone, John Ferguson will continue as bloodstock adviser to Sheikh Mohammed and also act as the contact point for all trainers in America, France and Ireland.

Diana Cooper, who often stood in for Crisford in Europe, has moved out of Godolphin to work for Falcon, as head of charities.

Others to leave include James MacEwan, the managing director of Janah Management Company, which supervises horse transport. MacEwan is to be replaced by Martin Atock as interim managing director.

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