Godolphin merger plan won’t affect their Irish interests

Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed to continue to have horses with three trainers here

Sheikh Mohammed's plans for a new streamlined Godolphin bloodstock operation will have no impact on his Irish racing interests with the ruler of Dubai continuing to have horses with three trainers here.

News of the process to merge the Sheikh's racing operation, Godolphin, with his breeding branch, Darley, will be finalised before the New Year was allied to confirmation that John Ferguson will give up his role as a jump trainer in April to concentrate on being the new operation's chief executive and racing manager.

The Darley brand will be used solely to promote stallions in the future and Godolphin's Irish spokesman Joe Osborne indicated it will be business as usual on the racing front here.

"We will continue to have three trainers in Ireland, Jim Bolger, Michael Halford and Willie McCreery, and we will probably have a bit of an increase in the numbers of horses in training.


“The streamlining process has been ongoing. The company name here has been changed to Godolphin Ireland in the last few months. So I don’t believe things will change at all,” Osborne said.

John Ferguson, the Sheikh’s long-time bloodstock adviser, confirmed he will hand in his trainer’s licence at the end of the current jumps season in April after rising to a place in the top six National Hunt trainers in Britain this season.

“It is an exciting new chapter in the Godolphin story. Our long-term objective is to improve on Godolphin’s results on the racetrack.

“I feel honoured to be appointed chief executive and racing manager, but I realise that it will require more of my time and attention. I will miss the training. Jumps racing has always been one of my sporting passions, and I love the involvement,” he said.

A priority

“I am very grateful to Sheikh Mohammed for giving me the horses to send jumping in the first place. In fact, he wanted me to continue, but I could see that Godolphin must always be a priority and requires my undivided attention.

“It makes sense for the racing and breeding operations to merge. One is sourcing the other, and a well-planned, common strategy can only strengthen both,” Ferguson added.

One of Godolphin’s most important victories in 2015 came when the Jim Bolger-trained Pleascach landed the Group One Yorkshire Oaks in August.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column