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Ferguson's departure probably the only move – and the right one

Lee Mottershead assesses the big news from Godolphin

John Ferguson with Frankie Dettori and Arnold Schwarzenegger following the victory of Raven's Pass in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Classic
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When shining a light on the shattered relationship between John Ferguson and Saeed Bin Suroor in Monday's Racing Post column, it was argued the situation surely could not be sustainable.

That said, one might have thought it could be sustained beyond Tuesday lunchtime.

It is a reflection of how grave things had become in Godolphin's Newmarket headquarters that it was felt the only possible course of action was for the racing and bloodstock figure most closely associated with Sheikh Mohammed over a quarter of a century to leave.

The depth of Bin Suroor's unhappiness could be measured by the extent to which he was prepared to vent his feelings in public.

Although appointed Godolphin chief executive as recently as December 2015, Ferguson had, in effect, been in charge since Simon Crisford left as racing manager in February 2014.

Bin Suroor worked brilliantly with Crisford, much less so with Ferguson, who to that point had been far more closely associated with Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock wing, then known as Darley.

Bin Suroor appeared to resent Ferguson's involvement, most notably the appointment of James Doyle as the trainer's retained rider. As soon as Bin Suroor stopped using Doyle last autumn, it was obvious the waters were choppy.

John Ferguson, pictured at Tattersalls last year

The four-time champion trainer was also believed to be unhappy about what he considered to be external riding instructions being given, contrary to his own, while the final straw was his latest allocation of juveniles, described by him in last week's Racing Post interview as "a disaster".

While the two-year-olds entrusted to fellow Godolphin Newmarket trainer Charlie Appleby have been winning left, right and centre, Bin Suroor has said his babies have been too backward to train. The way he described them, one might expect to see a few starting out at Towcester or Hexham.

By lifting the lid on his anger, Bin Suroor seemed to be saying, 'Either he goes or I go'. By lifting that lid he also seemed to be revealing a degree of confidence that he would survive. He has been proved right.

It is, of course, not only in Britain that Godolphin have struggled.

So long a pivotal figure

In Australia, Peter Snowden and John O'Shea resigned as the team's trainers, while top jockey James MacDonald, himself a replacement for Kerrin McEvoy, was axed after being banned in a betting scandal.

The only positive to come out of that particular mess was that it enabled Godolphin to give the excellent Doyle, who would otherwise have been the sport's best paid work-rider, something to do.

Ferguson, for so long a pivotal figure at the world's major bloodstock sales, spending millions and millions of pounds, euros and dollars, paid handsome tribute to Sheikh Mohammed when announcing his departure. When anyone leaves a major role within the sheikh's empire, that happens. You sense with Ferguson he very much meant it.

Coolmore continue to gallop ahead

Leaving may have been the only move he could have undertaken. It was probably also the right one. He claimed his exit would "allow everyone to draw a line under things". Such a line is necessary.

Godolphin has not been functioning or performing as an organisation so blessed with its financial resource should.

That has been true internally, as Bin Suroor so stunningly revealed, and on the racecourse, where Coolmore, helped greatly by Aidan O'Brien and Galileo, continue to gallop further clear.

Ferguson has been hugely important to Sheikh Mohammed's racing successes, for which he can be rightly proud. He will now seek new challenges. Godolphin, soon to install a trainer at Warren Place, face serious challenges of their own.

By lifting the lid on his anger, Bin Suroor seemed to be saying, either he goes or I go
E.W. Terms
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