x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Simon Crisford: Sheikh Mohammed will lead the way back

British Horseracing Authority praises Godolphin's 'rare level of cooperation' in Mahmoud Al Zarooni hearing.

Mahmoud Al Zarooni, the Godolphin trainer, right, and racing manager Simon Crisford arrive at a disciplinary panel hearing of the British Horseracing Authority on Thursday.
Mahmoud Al Zarooni, the Godolphin trainer, right, and racing manager Simon Crisford arrive at a disciplinary panel hearing of the British Horseracing Authority on Thursday.

LONDON // Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, says he "deeply regrets" the part he played in hiring Mahmoud Al Zarooni.

Crisford recommended Al Zarooni to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, as well as the founder of Godolphin Racing.

The Briton conceded he showed a "remarkable lack of judgement" after the trainer, who won the St Leger with Encke last year, was banned for eight years for administering anabolic steroids to 15 of his horses. Two of Al Zarooni's horses failed tests for painkillers last April, after which Crisford stressed to him the importance of keeping his medical records up to date.

"I think we have to be very clear about this situation," Crisford told Channel 4 Racing.

"A trainer is a licensed individual and it is his duty to take professional care of the horses in his stable. He runs the day-to-day management; my job is to look after the best interests of the owner.

"I simply cannot be aware of every single bit of medication that every horse in Godolphin is getting.

"Saeed bin Suroor and Mahmoud Al Zarooni are supposed to be professional trainers.

"One of them clearly wasn't."

He said Godolphin's founder will lead the way back.

"It will take a long time to recover from this, but Sheikh Mohammed will make sure everything is done and that the stable is 100 per cent clean before any horses get transferred to any other stables," Crisford said.

He said he had stressed to Al Zarooni that he needed to "keep his records maintained in a much more efficient manner".

He added: "I had lengthy conversations with him about that but I'm afraid he's betrayed the trust we put in him and he's let everybody down, not only Godolphin but the British public, too.

"We'll have nothing to do with him again and I have no sympathy for him … I haven't considered my position because I've been told to clear this mess up and that's what I'll be doing."

The British Horseracing Authority chief executive Paul Bittar stressed the investigation is not yet complete and further charges could be brought against the other individuals who were involved.

He said: "Rarely do we have a situation where the trainer puts up his hands and gives us a list of everybody else that has been involved in the giving of the medication.

"Ultimately, we were able to deal with it quickly because of the public interest issue.

"We certainly didn't do this on Godolphin's terms but rarely do you get their level of cooperation.

"There have been some suggestions that Al Zarooni wasn't even in the country when the steroids were administered but the evidence we have - written evidence from Godolphin and Al Zarooni - suggests that he was A, in the country, and B, he was responsible for directing the administration of the drugs.

"Some of the investigations are on-going. The vet's assistant who has been mentioned is a nebulous term in a way as he's not really a vet at all, he just simply assists but he's not captured under the rules.

"The interviews with the foremen are on-going and that part of the investigation is on-going but because of Al Zarooni having responsibility for the horses we needed to deal with him first.

"We asked Al Zarooni if he'd ever administered steroids before and he said he hasn't. Both his yard and Saeed bin Suroor's have been tested before and all those results came back negative."