Last year, the mighty Frankel proved himself the epitome of 300 years of selective breeding and brought levels of joy not seen in Flat racing for years. The Thoroughbred has had more money, time and effort spent on improving its ability to run fast than man has given to developing any other animal. They are remarkable athletes. Their initial acceleration to 30mph is faster than most sports cars. At full gallop, 440 gallons of air are taken in to provide enough oxygen to propel a 1,100lb horse at 40mph.
But consider how many Flat races are won by a head or a neck at the end of a mile race. Doping
-giving horses performance-enhancing substances- has been around racing since the sport began. Even a small improvement can turn losing into winning and yet the whole business of betting and breeding is based on trust. That’s why the British Horseracing Authority has some of the most stringent rules on doping. Many believed the sport was cleaner than ever. Not now. The shock of the news that Sheikh Mohammed’s trainer, Mahmood Al Zarooni, now banned from training for eight years, had been giving steroids to a large number of his string cannot be underestimated. Racing needs trust to exist, and this appalling affair has left a terrible scar.
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