Friday, April 26, 2013

Cometh the hour, cometh the man

I have a new hero: Paul Bittar.  Did you see his interview on RUK today?  He was just so impressive - clearly determined to get things right, clearly honest.  Until then, as you'd probably have worked out from yesterday's chapter, I was struggling to work out the rushed-through al Zarooni case.  It's in racing's interest and in Sheikh Mohammed's interest to see Sheikh Mohammed exonerated - but exonerated in a way that rings true, after an exhaustive and in-depth investigation, not after a show-trial at the end of a couple of days of pseudo-detection during which many of the statements which we have been asked to swallow have seemed implausible at best.

It didn't really add up because the BHA had been fearless in the first place.  The easy thing would have been not to do a spot-check on al Zarooni's yard: they must have gone in feeliing that there was a reasonable chance of finding something which would open a can of worms, the opening of which would make life much less easy.  So the fact that they went in suggested a fearlessness which didn't at all tie in with what seemed like a whitewash yesterday.  Anyway, Bittar's interview has completely allayed my fears: the aim of yesterday's show-trial was solely to remove al Zarooni from the picture as quickly as possible, and is not intended to be the resolution of the affair - which is just as well as yesterday posed at least as many questions as it answered.

One of the odd things which this week had thrown up was Godolphin's plan to put things right by testing every horse on the property at Moulton Paddocks to find out which ones had been doped.  This, of course, was a pointless and misleading piece of window-dressing.  If Godolphin wished to know which horses had been doped, all that it needed to do was to ask Zarooni, or whoever keeps his records - and it is inconceivable that he doesn't know which horses were treated, whether or not such details appear in the stable's official log.  Testing every horse in the next few days will, of course, tell us nothing at all about which horses have been treated: it will merely tell us which of the horses who were treated still have drugs in their system - which information will, of course, be useful for Godolphin, but which will not go very far towards making clear what has or hasn't been going on.  Anyway, it seems that the BHA has now relieved Godolphin of its self-imposed responsibilities in this department - all of which gives us a lot more confidence than was inspired by the farce which we've witnessed so far.

So, in short, we have found out this week one big thing: we have a leader whom we can respect.  What we (ie British racing) and Sheikh Mohammed now needs is worthwhile exoneration.  Yesterday's show-trial did nothing to provide that - but, fingers crossed, Bittar's responsibly-led clean-up operation will provide a demonstration to the world that both British racing and Godolphin have nothing to be ashamed of.  The test results from Moulton Paddocks have been disastrous for British racing and disastrous for Sheikh Mohammed.  With Bittar's hand on the helm, we and he have both got the best possible chance of weathering the storm and emerging with our reputations intact.

Oh yes, we had rain overnight and then intermittent showers through the day, so we can head off to Sandown tomorrow with Grand Liaison not worrying about racing on firm ground.  Fingers crossed for a good day.  You can see the filly and Lucinda at the top of the page in today's rain (with Jack Gilligan on Frankie) - and then Ethics Girl (Carolina) and Wasabi (Terri) cantering around Side Hill, and then Alamshar and Giant enjoying one of the dry spells.

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