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Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Bloodstock adviser who became sheikh's right-hand man

John Ferguson: association with Godolphin stretches back three decades
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John Ferguson's resignation from his role as chief executive of Godolphin brings to an end an association stretching back almost three decades and leaves a hole within the organisation that should not be underestimated.

A bloodstock agent from the age of 25, former soldier Ferguson has long been the man whose hand raised the catalogue in sales rings across the globe to bid vast sums of money for the best-bred horseflesh on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai.

Far more than simply a bloodstock adviser, in reality Ferguson has long been at the right hand of Sheikh Mohammed and acted for many years as his public face within the racing industry, his passion for all things Darley and Godolphin clear for all to see.

Never was that pride in the famous blue colours more palpable than when Ferguson was officially named chief executive of a reshuffled Godolphin in December 2015, when he spoke of returning the organisation to the top table of Flat racing.

Ferguson had been in the position in a de facto manner for some time before it was made official, stepping into the void filled by the departure of fellow long-time Godolphin servant Simon Crisford in February 2014 at the conclusion of the damaging Mahmood Al Zarooni doping scandal.

The formalisation of that role meant Ferguson had to give up on what was a promising opening few years as a trainer of jumps horses under the Bloomfields banner.

For five seasons from 2011 until he relinquished his licence in April 2016, Ferguson trained more than 200 winners, his ambition backed by Sheikh Mohammed himself with ex-Flat horses who might otherwise have been sold.

Sheikh Mohammed: entrusted John Ferguson with buying best-bred stock in the sales' ring

Despite his high-profile position in one of Flat racing's most powerful organisations, Ferguson made no secret of his love for the jumps. He made his first foray into racing, following a stint with the Scots Guards, with trainer Nick Gaselee, for whom he led up a Grand National runner.

It was not long before the Flat came calling though and Ferguson spent three years working for Sir Michael Stoute before making the transition to the bloodstock side of the fence.

Whatever Ferguson does next, it is for his association with Godolphin that he will surely be remembered, and the fact he was unable to make his goals of December 2015 a reality will be of great sadness to both him and Sheikh Mohammed.

The Ferguson name will not be leaving racing any time soon though, with one son, Alex, carving out a career as a jump jockey and another, James, having demonstrated his talents in his role as an assistant to Charlie Appleby when overseeing Godolphin runners in Australia over the past 12 months.

The next chapter begins now.

The fact he was unable to make his goals of December 2015 a reality will be of great sadness to both him and Sheikh Mohammed

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