x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Godolphin's Charlie Appleby gains his licence to thrill in horse racing

Godolphin trainer takes over the reins at Moulton Paddocks from the banned Saeed bin Suroor, writes Geoffrey Riddle.

Goldophin trainer Charlie Appleby, the new master at Moulton Paddocks, has worked at the operation for the past 15 years.
Goldophin trainer Charlie Appleby, the new master at Moulton Paddocks, has worked at the operation for the past 15 years.

Charlie Appleby was confirmed as the new master of Godolphin's Moulton Paddocks stables in Newmarket and Marmoom Stables in Dubai after the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) handed the 38-year-old Englishman a training licence yesterday.

Appleby takes over at Moulton Paddocks from Saeed bin Suroor, who was overseeing around 400 horses in Newmarket following the eight-year disqualification handed out to Mahmoud Al Zarooni in April for doping horses in his care.

Appleby has been with Godolphin for 15 years and has worked as an assistant to Al Zarooni, as well as Bin Suroor and David Loder, Godolphin's former juvenile trainer.

"I am very fortunate and I cannot thank Sheikh Mohammed enough for giving me this opportunity," Appleby said.

"Taking on this role as one of the faces of Godolphin, I am very lucky in knowing Godolphin inside out. I am not afraid of the extra responsibility and have great support from everybody within Godolphin."

Appleby's ability to take on responsibility is in great need at Godolphin after the BHA took a dim view of the internal procedures that allowed Al Zarooni to administer anabolic steroids to 15 horses in Newmarket.

According to the BHA report on its investigation into the doping of horses under Al Zarooni's care, the Godolphin senior staff at Moulton Paddocks failed to oversee the activities of junior staff. That lack of responsibility went hand in hand with a shortfall in accountability at senior level and it was this lack of clearly defined roles that led to Al Zarooni acting autonomously.

"The investigation found that Al Zarooni was able to act in a manner which marginalised several of his senior staff, which subsequently resulted in these events being able to unfold entirely without their knowledge or oversight," the report stated. The BHA has made nine recommendations to be implemented at Moulton Paddocks and within the wider organisation, where relevant. BHA investigators will continue to call on Moulton Paddocks both announced and unannounced to check these practices have been put into place until such time they deem appropriate.

The fates of Sahrif Mahboob, the veterinary assistant who injected the steroids, along with the two foremen also involved, remain in the hands of Godolphin.

Among the recommendations put forward to Godolphin was to "develop a culture which is based on transparency, openness and trust", and to send all relevant members of staff on training programmes in relation to the rules of racing and medication.

The BHA could find no evidence that Appleby was in any way involved in the practices that also saw seven further horses administered anabolic steroids that led to all 22 horses being banned for six months.

"We are satisfied that Charlie Appleby had no awareness of the actions of Al Zarooni," said Adam Bricknell, director of integrity, legal and risk for the BHA.

"We are aware that Appleby has already begun the process of implementing changes to the management structure and procedures at the yard and we will encourage him, as the licensed trainer, to continue to implement such changes, including addressing all of the points in our report."

The BHA's four-month investigation was documented in a nine-page report.

The significant issue of who was involved in the administration of anabolic steroids to the seven horses who tested positive, in addition to the initial 15, remains unclear.

Horses such as the English Classic winner Encke were found to have stanzolol in their systems in May but the BHA have failed to discover how the steroids entered the bloodstreams of those horses.

"On the balance of probabilities and owing to any evidence to the contrary the views of the investigating officers of the BHA is that the administration of these substances was carried out by Al Zarooni in a similar manner to the earlier identified 15," the report stated.

The BHA has decided not to issue any further disciplinary charges and considers the case closed.

"The investigation process has been complex and a challenging one," said Paul Bittar, the BHA chief executive. "I am satisfied the conclusions reached are an accurate reflection of events."

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