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Month: May 2013

The Derby


I’m very pleased to see that Ocovango is currently 10/1 for the Derby.

On Facebook last week I said that I would put up my reasons why he’s the outstanding candidate for the race and I’ve seen nothing in the meantime to change my view.


Andre Fabre is a master. Pour Moi was a very deserving winner of the 2011 Derby with a Saint-Cloud prep and a record of 1-3-1-8 going into the race.

Ocovango has followed broadly the same route but with a much better record: 1-1-1 Ocovango wins the Prix Greffulhe. M. Fabre does not run horses in the English Derby unless they have a real chance of winning. Like Pour Moi, this horse may not run again after the Derby, but wouldn’t need to with a perfect record. The horse was brought over for Breakfast With The Stars and, although not tested, this demonstrated that the trainer regards him as a serious candidate. Owned by Prince Faisal and bred at Watership Down Stud, his pedigree for the race is impeccable. The jockey, Pierre-Charles Boudot, is not well known in England but, having reviewed the races on Youtube, I have no concerns in that regard.

Don’t get me wrong, if Dawn Approach stays 12f then he is the obvious winner but Epsom is unlikely to suit him (the same was said about his Derby winning sire) but, as an aside, Ocovango is a beautiful full-bodied 3-y-o and ideally suited for the middle distance crown of his generation.

I’ve had a win bet but, at 10/1, you should have at least an each-way bet.

The problematic RSPCA


I posted this first on my Facebook page because I felt that, on a website that is primarily focused on racing, people might assume that my views are ingrained from that perspective.

I’d like to think that my outlook is a bit wider than that and I’ve deliberately avoided the misinformation peddled by Gavin Grant (or someone writing on his behalf) following this year’s Grand National. “Tighter entry controls for horses and riders, eg (sic) no amateur jockeys are permitted” – really? – Sam Waley-Cohen was fourth! I’m worried that the general public take the view that what the RSPCA says is more or less the official line on animal welfare. Don’t get me wrong – there are very laudable people in the RSPCA, David Muir being a notable example. He was in tears about the success of this year’s Grand National and is an obvious animal lover. I’m not so sure about Gavin Grant –

Anyhow, here’s the post:

Martin Malone
The RSPCA is an organisation that needs to reinvent itself and, above all, get rid of its self-serving leaders. This is a good example of a blog which highlights news that might otherwise be overlooked:
Watch the very first video and think about how much their corporate headquarters cost.
Their appalling behaviour was reported today as having reached a new low:
Are they spending their money wisely? You judge:
Please think twice before donating to this sadly now very misguided charity.

I’m implacably opposed to animal cruelty but it worries me that people who donate by bequests or weekday street collectors who donate £120m per year don’t know that their money is being spent so unwisely.

Mahmood Al Zarooni objects to summary justice and it may be good for racing


As a lawyer I am pleased to read that Mahmood al Zarooni has appealed against his eight year ban following the Godolphin doping scandal.

It was highly unusual for charges to be brought and, within the week, for Zarooni to be facing a BHA hearing. It was also disconcerting that “he chose” not to have legal representation for a hearing which was likely to end his career as a racehorse trainer. Hearings of this nature have tended to take ages and, in the view of many, far longer than should have been necessary. I first read that the hearing might take place within days when J A McGrath reported it in The Telegraph. I commented at the time that this seemed remarkable.

My background is in employment law and in high profile cases I know that it is often wise to be careful about pressure from the employer. While I have no idea whether it was relevant in this case, it’s worth bearing in mind that the BHA has the uncomfortable dual role of promoting and administering discipline in British racing. Others have alluded to this dichotomy in the days following the dramatic announcement of what Godolphin were quick to characterise as the actions of a rogue within the organisation. There have been commendable articles in the press which suggest that there are many unresolved questions about what has been going on in Godolphin and, in this regard, Greg Wood of The Guardian deserves particular praise. It can’t be easy for someone whose career is focused on the industry to run the risk of incurring the wrath of its greatest benefactor.

I’m not suggesting that the verdict is wrong. There “seems” to be evidence of serious wrongdoing but I think that anyone giving measured consideration to the “evidence” would want to ask more questions, as should any quasi judicial tribunal.

It’s a brave move by Zarooni because I doubt that it will go down well with the ruler of a country which is, sadly, renowned for its summary approach to the administration of justice. Racing embraces the patronage of the ruler of Dubai but I’m sure that I’m not alone in feeling uncomfortable with Sheikh Mohammed’s affection for racing which, on the flat, is the epitome of western European establishment and all that it stands for while ruling a country in which my idea of employment law is an anathema.

I hope that the Zarooni appeal leads to a wide ranging analysis of the circumstances which led to the headlines. It’s a proper challenge for the BHA and it will be fascinating to see whether they rise to the challenge.

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