New Godolphin trainer given free licence

by  |  earlier

0 LIKES UnLike

Most trainers take out a licence not thinking beyond a first winner but Mahmood al Zarooni can afford to raise his sights a little higher. In fact he should be raising them a lot higher.

Al Zarooni has just been announced as the latest trainer added to the Godolphin team and will soon be seen on British tracks when he takes over a string that will be trained at Godolphin’s Moulton Paddocks yard in Newmarket. And, just to ease him into the job, he will saddle his first runners for the stable at the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan on Saturday.  No pressure then.

He will have seven runners on the card, headed by Eastern Anthem, who will be attempting to defend his title in the Dubai Sheema Classic, and Allybar, who is far from a forlorn chance in the showpiece finale, the Dubai World Cup.

Al Zarooni, a 33-year-old Dubaian, may not be a familiar name to many in Britain but he is well known within Godolphin and has been promoted from the backroom staff. He has been assistant to Godolphin’s principle trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, having previously acted in the same role to Dubai-based trainer Ali Rashid al Raihe.

Sheikh Mohammed created Godolphin to compete at the highest level but the engine by which the sheikh had planned to rule the racing world appeared to have run out of steam of late with a single-figure number of Group One winners from 2006-08. That process had been reversed last season – mainly by Godolphin’s American division – and a first British classic winner, Mastery in the St Leger, since 2004 was welcome but the Derby may still only be a distant dream.

Two British Group One victories in the last two seasons is hardly the level of return on investment that would have been expected, but the appointment of Al Zarooni is seen more as an adjustment of strategy rather than a change of direction or management. 

Bin Suroor had more than 200 horses in his care last season, as opposed to the 60 he had charge of when he took over Godolphin’s operation in 1995 and it appears he was keen not to increase numbers. He will continue to oversee Godolphin's American barn, with the both Mark Johnston and André Fabre still training many of Sheikh Mohammed's juveniles.

The final decision over which horses Al Zarooni will train in Newmarket, when he arrives next month, has yet to be finalised but he is likely to be training more juveniles than Bin Suroor. As for jockeys, it looks likely that Frankie Dettori will continue to ride primarily for Bin Suroor while Ahmed Ajtebi, another Godolphin protégé, will be a regular rider for Al Zarooni.

With due formality Al Zarooni was quoted as saying of his promotion: “I am very grateful to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for giving me this opportunity. It has been a privilege being part of the Godolphin team under Saeed bin Suroor for the past year, and I now look forward to the challenge of operating my own stable.”

Simon Crisford, Godolphin racing manager, said in a statement: “Mahmood has been an important part of the team for some time and has been closely involved with the training of the horses he will saddle on World Cup night. With more two-year-olds expected to come through the system, the time is now right for Godolphin to employ two trainers.

“Godolphin has already been allocated a team of two-year-olds for 2010 but there are more due to come in and Mahmood will be taking care of many of those horses. Saeed and I talked it through with Sheikh Mohammed and we all agreed it would be a good idea to have another trainer.”

Two of Al Zarooni’s runners at Meydan this weekend will be Calming Influence and Frozen Power. Doubtless he will be hoping for plenty of one and not find himself becoming the other.



Question Stats

Latest activity: earlier.
This question has 0 answers.


Share your knowledge and help people by answering questions.