Friday 20 April 2018

Case of disgraced Al Zarooni coming back to haunt BHA officials

Trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni
Trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni

Tom Peacock

The spectre of Mahmood Al Zarooni is threatening to return to haunt the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) after it emerged the disgraced ex-Godolphin trainer is considering seeking clarification over his eight-year ban.

The move has been prompted by the discovery this summer that solicitor Matthew Lohn, who chaired Al Zarooni's hearing among others, had been paid by the BHA for other advisory work and this created a perception of conflict of interest over cases.

Al Zarooni hasn't yet approached the BHA and the possibility of a re-trial seems extremely remote. He admitted administering anabolic steroids to 15 horses in his care and his case in 2013 was concluded before Lohn was engaged by racing's rulers six months later. He is believed to be more interested in the speed and severity in which the wheels of justice turned.

The embarrassing Lohn saga was made public after trainer Jim Best had been found guilty by the BHA in April of ordering conditional jockey Paul John to stop two horses and banned for four years. He appealed his case and a retrial is expected be reheard next month.

Individuals involved in seven disciplinary cases involving Lohn have since been contacted by the BHA over possible reviews with Paul Gilligan's six-month ban for racing a horse that had run at an Irish flapping meeting also to be reheard. Others chaired by Lohn that could be affected are the three-year suspension of owner Anthony Knott over inside information and Gerard Butler's punishment of five years for using steroids.

Solicitor Harry Stewart-Moore, who represents Best, has also been instructed to act on Al Zarooni's behalf. "If we'd have had an explanation as to why this happened since it (Lohn's other BHA work) has been revealed, then my client would be more reassured that it might not have pervaded his inquiry," he told the Racing Post.

"Given no explanation has been given, there is a general sense that people don't know that their hearing was fair when the BHA won't tell them what went wrong. We're not saying there's anything dodgy, but my client would like some reassurance."

Robin Mounsey of the BHA said they had no contact as yet from Al Zarooni's solicitors, but confirmed they had written to a "individuals who were party to one of seven disciplinary cases where there might be grounds to claim an appearance of bias."

Irish Independent

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