A general view of Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, in Gloucestershire, England in the UK. Picture: REUTERS/REBECCA NADEN
A general view of Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, in Gloucestershire, England in the UK. Picture: REUTERS/REBECCA NADEN

The equine flu epidemic in the UK is racing’s biggest headache at present, but not far away are the rumours that all is not well with the worldwide Godolphin operation.

From its home in Dubai, Godolphin has major involvement on four continents with horses in training in Europe, the US, Australia and Japan.

Two racecourses — York and the Curragh — have already been advised that Godolphin are pulling out of sponsorships they have been involved with for years. The races affected are the Yorkshire and Irish Oaks.

In addition, Godolphin will no longer back the Prix Morny Jean Romanet in France.

The head of the Godolphin empire is Sheik Mohammed whom Forbes list as having a net worth of $18bn. Despite this there is evidence of a tightening of their expenses which could affect racing jobs around the world.

This development comes at a time when the army of Godolphin horses are doing well around the globe.

In Dubai last Thursday, the famous blue Godolphin colours were carried to victory by four runners at Meydan — Estihdaaf, Nordic Lights, Dubhe and the Charlie Appleby-trained, Mubtarin.

Ridden by Christophe Soumillon, Estihdaaf won the grade3 UAE 2,000 Guineas with the son of Arch scoring a decisive victory. It was the 11th time Godolphin had won this race.

Nordic Lights, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, could now be headed for the grade1 Jebel Hatta on “Super Saturday”, on March 9. His trainer said: “I don’t know if he’s good enough for the Jebel Hatta, but he has done nothing wrong tonight. We will get him home and have a regroup.”

In Australia, three Godolphin horses — Hartnell, Best Of Days and Alizee — have been entered for the A$5m All Star Mile at Flemington on March 16.

In the US, the Godolphin team are expecting big things this year from the three-year-lold filly, Elsa, a daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.

There are no $5m races at the Vaal on Tuesday with the richest purse coming in the fourth race which is worth R120,000. The winner receives R75,000 and this cheque could be won by Mike de Kock's four-year-old The Dazzler.

Although the son of Mogok has failed to reward punters in his last three outings, the gelding has not finished far away and should make a bold bid to defy top weight of 61,5kg.

Trainer Gary Alexander saddled a double at Turffonteiin last Saturday and his runner Odd Rob has been in good form all season and is certain to have his supporters. The gelding is now seven yet keeps earning for his owners and he clearly goes well for jockey Denis Schwarz.

Both Finchatton and Throng rate each-way chances in this 1,800m handicap with the latter representing the top team of Sean Tarry and champion jockey Lyle Hewitson.

Hewitson has a full book of rides on the 10-race programme and his other promising mounts include Mighty And Magic (sixth race) and Fly North in the final leg of the Pick 6.

Mighty And Magic, a son of Twice Over, reverts to a longer distance in the sixth race and could prove too smart for Senor Lizard and Aussie-bred Ilitshe.


1st Race: (3) Jacko Boy (2) It Takes Two (1) Minona (4) Glitter Path

2nd Race: (1) Sea Venture (2) Magic's First (3) Ever Fair (5) Jungle Jane

3rd Race: (7) Brookie (5) Jagesa Jagesa (1) Psychic (13) Ryder

4th Race: (1) The Dazzler (3) Odd Rob (8) Throng (2) Finchatton

5th Race: (8) Mattina (9) Beautiful Shay (3) Ossetra (5) Pretty Border

6th Race: (5) Mighty And Magic (1) Senor Lizard (2) Ilitshe (3) Brand New Cadillac

7th Race: (4) Kentucky Blue (1) Invincible Lady (2) Queen Moira (11) Gold Dawn

8th Race: (2) Opera (8) See You Tyger (10) Jailhouse Jazz (7) Modjadji

9th Race: (13) Fly North (1) Arikel (2) Florence (12) Ilha Da Var

10th Race: (3) Ponchielli (7) Claremorris (5) Shezashiningstar (1) Swell Time