06/06/2017 11:03AM

Ferguson steps down from Godolphin post in wake of flap with Suroor

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Barbara D. Livingston
John Ferguson was a major figure in making high-flying sales purchases for Godolphin before becoming its CEO and racing manager in December 2015.

John Ferguson, a longtime figure in Sheikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum’s Godolphin operation, has stepped down as CEO and racing manager.

In a release, the international organization named Joe Osborne, managing director of Godolphin in Ireland, as the company’s interim chief executive.

“We are committed to our objective of achieving success for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and his family,” Osborne said. “Our thanks go to John Ferguson for his longstanding contribution to Godolphin and Darley.”

The departure comes in the wake of a column published Sunday by Racing Post in which Saeed bin Suroor, Godolphin’s senior trainer, laid out the conflicts between himself and Ferguson since the latter was named CEO and racing manager in December 2015. Ferguson assumed the helm as part of a merger between Sheikh Mohammed’s racing and breeding interests under the Godolphin umbrella.

In the column, Bin Suroor detailed his frustrations about the perceived disparity in quality between the 2-year-olds sent to his shedrow compared with fellow Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby, and with James Doyle being named Godolphin’s retained rider. Bin Suroor also said in the column that he now answers directly to Sheikh Mohammed.

Prior to taking the positions, Ferguson had long been Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock adviser, and was a successful jumps trainer in the U.K.

He was the public face of Sheikh Mohammed’s high-dollar purchases at auctions around the globe, and signed for the world’s most expensive auction yearling of 2016, going to $3,517,645 (2.6 million guineas) for a Dubawi colt at the Tattersalls October yearling sale.

Ferguson was a frequent competitor on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed in bidding battles against the Coolmore operation, which drove the top of the commercial market for years. Most notably, Ferguson was the underbidder to Coolmore on The Green Monkey, who brought a world record $16 million at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Calder selected 2-year-olds in training sale.