By Jon Lees
Saudi Arabia: The team looking into the allegations against Maximum Security trainer Jason Servis are ‘months’ away from delivering a recommendation on whether the first winner of the $20 million Saudi Cup should keep the race, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
In the wake of Servis being charged with a number of doping offences in the United States, the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia announced it was withholding payment of all prize-money while it conducted its own investigation.
Speaking for the first time since the staging of the world’s richest horse race in February, the chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal said it was important to ensure there was no suspicion over Maximum Security’s victory, but that progress was being hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are pursuing this very vigorously,” he said in an interview with Thoroughbred Racing Commentary. “We have created an investigative committee that has started its work. Obviously this is being hindered by Covid-19, but I expect them to come to a definitive recommendation in the coming months.”
Since saddling Maximum Security to victory in February, Servis has been charged – alongside a number of other individuals, including fellow trainer Jorge Navarro – with participating in the manufacturing, distributing and administering illegal substances to horses.
Servis has pleaded not guilty to charges that have rocked the US racing community to the core.
Prince Bandar said he hoped agencies in the US would cooperate with the Saudi investigation.
He added: “Once all this has happened, we will look at all of the evidence, along with all the testing that we have done, which has also been slowed down because we are using an international testing site that has been shut down because of Covid-19. We are able to push through – but very slowly, in this respect – and we will make a decision that is fair to everyone.
“It is very important to us that there are no question marks about the winner of the first Saudi Cup. We will publish the findings and the methodology we used, as well as the reasoning behind why we took such a decision. So, there will be no ambiguity whatsoever.
“While I would rather not have had this happen at the Saudi Cup, it also gives us an opportunity to show that we are very serious about what we are doing.”
• Read the full interview at Thoroughbred Racing Commentary