Dark Days for Godolphin

By Conor Phillips

There are dark times aheGrand National Free Betad for Godolphin following their involvement in one of the biggest drugs scandal’s in horse racing’s history. Eleven of the Mahmood Al Zarooni trained horses tested positive for traces of anabolic steroids.

Top class filly, Certify was the most recognisable of the eleven, and has been withdrawn from the Qipco 1000 Guineas on May 5th at Newmarket as a result of the scandal. The unbeaten 3-year-old was fourth favourite for the race at 7/1, after a hugely impressive start to her career, winning four out of four.

Former Dubai Gold Cup winner and Ascot Gold Cup runner-up Opinion Poll was another of the highly regarded horses that tested positive and therefore will not be able to race for the foreseeable future.

The other horses that tested positive for the drugs, believed to be Ethylestrenol and Stanozolol, are; Artigiano, Bathrat Amal, Desert Blossom, Fair Hill, Ghostflower, Orkney Island, Restraint Of Trade, Sweet Rose and Valley Of Queens.

Forty-five horses were tested on April 9th at the Godolphin stables and on April 22nd a letter was sent to the British Horse Association explaining that the 11 horses named above had tested positive for steroids.

After two of Al Zarooni’s horses tested positive last season, he was warned that he could face random visits from the BHA’s testing unit in the next 12 months.

This is a huge blow to horse racing and causes serious threat to Al Zarooni’s career as a trainer. The BHA will review the situation before confirming a date on which the disciplinary hearing will take place. Godolphin will not take any further action until the outcome of the BHA enquiry is known.

Zarooni joined Godolphin in March 2010 and has since enjoyed a string of exceptional successes including Encke’s St Leger Stakes win, Monterosso’s famous Dubai World Cup win and Rewilding’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes win.

Coral now have Hot Snap as 11/4 favourite for the 1000 guineas following the withdrawal of Certify, What A Name is currently second favourite at 5/1, whilst Just the Judge is the 6/1 third favourite.

As the length of the ban is unknown, Certify has also been withdrawn from the Oaks at Epsom which takes place at the end of May by many bookmakers. Ladbrokes are now going 6/1 on favourite Liber Nauticus and Sir Henry Cecil’s second favourite Hot Snap is now 8/1 (in from 10/1).

Certify’s unbeaten campaign included victory in the Group One Fillies’ Mile in October 2012 over the same course and distance as the 1000 guineas, making her an obvious contender for the classic.

Anabolic steroids are the most powerful and dangerous type of performance enhancing drugs that can be given to horses, which shows the danger the Godolphin team could face. Al Zarooni has admitted that he was responsible for the drug scandal and will face a hearing on a date that is to be announced.

The scandal will affect the betting markets as Certify has been withdrawn from both of the races she was expected to run in by most bookmakers and therefore the urgency of the hearing is paramount.

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