Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Dies At 75

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Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum at Goodwood with his retained jockey Jim Crowley | racingfotos.com

By Kelsey Riley and Emma Berry

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who founded a worldwide breeding empire under the Shadwell banner and who has campaigned champions and Classic winners across the globe in his more than 40-year involvement in the industry, has died aged 75. Sheikh Hamdan raced 19 European Classic winners, including the Derby winners Nashwan (Blushing Groom {Fr}) and Erhaab (Chief's Crown), while his other major victories include the Breeders' Cup Classic, two Melbourne Cups and two Dubai World Cups. Sheikh Hamdan had been leading owner in Britain in 2020 for the ninth time, and was last year leading owner at Royal Ascot with six winners.

Shadwell released a statement on Wednesday that read, “It is with great sadness that Shadwell announces the death of His Highness, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He died peacefully on Wednesday, Mar. 24, 2021.

“It is a time to reflect on his achievements and his enormous contribution to the global Thoroughbred and Arabian industries. His legacy will live on through his horses. Everyone at Shadwell is so proud to have worked for such a loyal, generous, humble and wise man.”

Sheikh Hamdan's long-term racing manager Angus Gold led the tributes from a wide range of those in the global racing industry to have benefitted from the owner-breeder's great passion for the sport of horseracing.

Interviewed on Sky Sports Racing, Gold said, “It's a very sad day. From my point of view he was an amazing man, and we spoke for the first 25 years nearly every day–whether about horses or just about what was going on in the world.”

He continued, “To have the sort of success he had you've got to have the passion–and he had that in abundance. He absolutely loved the business, particularly the breeding, as everyone knows. A homebred Classic winner was the highlight for him. That's why Nashwan was so special and close to his heart, as he always said.

“He was absolutely passionate about the business. He loved going to look at the foals and the yearlings and to see them on the racecourse. I'm sure that's what kept him going for so long. He was so passionate about it.”

Gold added, “It was wonderful to talk to a man who was so immersed in the whole thing, the fact he was very busy in his own right in Dubai and obviously a rich and powerful man, yet what he loved was talking about his horses. He would often ring me about the smallest thing that you wouldn't think he had time to notice–but he watched every runner and had very strong opinions.

“It's too early to talk about what the future will bring. We will wait and see what Sheikh Hamdan's family want to do, but I think just from the breeding point of view some of the families he has helped develop over the last 40 years will be around for a long time to come.”

Sheikh Hamdan was the second of four sons of the late ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, all of whom have helped revolutionize the Thoroughbred industry: Sheikh Maktoum, the eldest brother and another late ruler of Dubai, was a prolific owner/breeder in both Europe and America under the Gainsborough Stud banner; Sheikh Mohammed is one of the largest and most dominant owner/breeders worldwide the industry has ever known under his Godolphin and Darley brands, and Sheikh Ahmed is a Classic-winning owner who founded Dubai's Jebel Ali Racecourse.

On Wednesday, Sheikh Mohammed posted a photograph of Sheikh Hamdan on Twitter with the message, “We belong to God and to Him we shall return…May God have mercy on you, my brother, my support and my companion.”

Sheikh Hamdan–who had served as minister of finance and industry of the United Arab Emirates since 1971 and deputy ruler of Dubai since 2006, when Sheikh Mohammed succeeded Sheikh Maktoum as ruler-was born on Dec. 25, 1945. Sheikh Hamdan was raised around horses, but it was while studying at the Bell School of Languages in Cambridge in the late 1960s that the young Emirati royal developed an interest in racing, and the passion really took hold when Sheikh Hamdan and Sheikh Mohammed attended the 1967 2000 Guineas at Newmarket together. It would be another 14 years before Sheikh Hamdan dove into ownership, and on July 30, 1980, he registered his first win as an owner when Mushref saluted at Redcar.

It didn't take long for Sheikh Hamdan to signal his intentions at the upper echelons of the game. At the same time in the early 1980s that his younger brother took the American breeding business by storm with his bidding wars with team Coolmore, Sheikh Hamdan was there too battling for the best bloodstock. One of his first big public auction purchases in 1982 was a colt by Roberto that cost $800,000 at Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga Yearling Sale. Named At Talaq, the bay won once at two for Newmarket-based trainer Harry Thomson Jones and took the G1 Grand Prix de Paris at three. He failed to thrive at four; however, rather than pulling the plug, Sheikh Hamdan opted to send him down to trainer Colin Hayes in Australia. That change of scenery proved pivotal: in 1986, At Talaq won the G1 Mackinnon S. and the G1 Melbourne Cup, giving his owner his first of two wins in The Race That Stops A Nation-the other, Jeune (GB) in 1994, was trained by Hayes's son David.

All the while, a chestnut filly that Sheikh Hamdan had spent $650,000 at the 1983 Keeneland July Sale was thriving with Thomson Jones: her name was Al Bahathri (Blushing Groom {Fr}), and after winning the G2 Lowther S. and finishing third in the G1 Cheveley Park S. at two, she was second in the G1 1000 Guineas in the spring before taking the Irish equivalent in addition to Royal Ascot's G2 Coronation S. and the G3 Child S. As a broodmare, she was perhaps even more remarkable. Al Bahathri is best known as the dam of Sheikh Hamdan's homebred 2004 G1 2000 Guineas and G1 Champion S. winner Haafhd (GB) (by Sheikh Hamdan's G1 Dewhurst S. winner Alhaarth {Ire}), but her daughters have likewise proven influential producers: she counts among her descendants G1 Gold Cup winner Big Orange (GB) (Duke Of Marmalade {Ire}); Group 1 winner and globetrotting stayer Red Cadeaux (GB) (Cadeaux Genereux {GB}); G1 Dubai Duty Free scorer Gladiatorus (Silic {Fr}); and Hong Kong champion Military Attack (Ire) (Oratorio {Ire}).

At the same time that Al Bahathri was making her mark on the racecourse, Sheikh Hamdan was laying the foundations for his breeding programme with the 1984 purchase of Shadwell Estate in Norfolk, including Nunnery Stud, which became the face of Shadwell's British breeding operations and the home of its stallions. He was also expanding further afield with the purchase of Derrinstown Stud in Co. Kildare, Ireland and Shadwell Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. For the latter, he had the perfect mare to begin things with a bang: Height Of Fashion (Fr) (Bustino {GB}).

Bred and raced by The Queen, Height Of Fashion was Britain's champion 2-year-old filly of 1981 on the merit of wins in the G3 May Hill S., G3 Fillies' Mile and Acomb S. She added the G2 Princess of Wales's S. and the Lupe S. at three before being purchased privately by Sheikh Hamdan and sent to America to visit Northern Dancer. Her first of two colts by the great sire was the Group 3-winning Alwasmi. Then along came Unfuwain (Northern Dancer), winner of the G2 Jockey Club S. and Princess Of Wales's S. For the first crop produced from Shadwell Farm, however, Height Of Fashion would reserve her best: Sheikh Hamdan's homebred Nashwan (Blushing Groom {Fr}), winner of the G1 Derby, G1 2000 Guineas, G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond S. and G1 Coral-Eclipse, for whom the stallion station at Shadwell Farm is now named. The Dick Hern-trained Nashwan was Sheikh Hamdan's first Derby winner, the second being the John Dunlop-trained Erhaab (Chief's Crown), who was also foaled at Shadwell Farm, in 1994. Nashwan would go on to make his mark as a sire, most notably through the Niarchos Family's five-time Group 1 and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Bago (Fr) and Sheikh Hamdan's homebred Swain, a two-time winner of the King George as well as the G1 Coronation S. and  G1 Irish Champion S.

After throwing the stakes-winning and Group 2-placed Danzig colt Mukddaam, Height Of Fashion foaled five consecutive fillies, of which four became the dams or second dams of stakes winners. Those female line descendants of Height Of Fashion include Sheikh Hamdan's homebred GI Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf and GI Flower Bowl Invitational S. winner Lahudood (GB) (Singspiel {Ire}), the second dam of Sheikh Hamdan's 2020 Royal Ascot winner Hukum (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}); G1 1000 Guineas and G1 Coronation S. scorer Ghanaati (Giant's Causeway); G3 Cumberland Lodge S. winner and G1 Champion S. second Mawatheeq (Danzig); G2 Queen Mary S. winner Maqaasid (GB) (Green Desert); G1 Sydney Cup winner Shraaoh (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}); and G2 Temple S. winner Hot Streak (Ire) (Iffraaj {GB}).

In 1998, Height Of Fashion book-ended an excellent broodmare career with a colt good enough to join the ranks of her first champion: the G1 Juddmonte International, G1 Champion S. and G1 Prince Of Wales's S. scorer Nayef (Gulch). Like his elder brother, Nayef would go on to be a sire of note, producing for Sheikh Hamdan the likes of G1 Prix Jacques le Marois and G1 Prix Jean Prat victor Tamayuz (GB), now a Group 1 sire based at Derrinstown.

All the while, Sheikh Hamdan continued to plunder the American sales, and the $1.65-million he shelled out for a colt by Danzig at the 1988 Keeneland July Sale would prove money well spent: trained by Hern, Dayjur would prove an all-time great sprinter with a track-record setting win in the 1990 G1 Nunthorpe S. and scintillating scores in the G1 Sprint Cup and G1 Prix de l'Abbaye before missing victory by a neck in the GI Breeders' Cup Sprint after jumping a shadow late on. That season proved a fruitful one for the Hern/Sheikh Hamdan axis, they having also combined to take that season's G1 Coral-Eclipse and G1 Phoenix Champion S. (now Irish Champion S.) with Elmaamul (Diesis {GB}).

Dayjur retired with an official rating of 131, and his Nunthorpe record would stand for 29 years until Battaash (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) came along in the blue and white to break it in 2019. A gelding, Battaash has won four Group 1s since 2017 beginning with that year's Prix de l'Abbaye. The Charlie Hills charge proved as good as ever in 2020 at the age of six, defending his Nunthorpe title and taking the G1 King's Stand S. at Royal Ascot as well as a fourth consecutive G2 King George S. at Glorious Goodwood, and he remains on course for a 2021 campaign.

In terms of body of work in a single season, Dayjur and Battaash have both been outpointed by Shadwell homebred Muhaarar (GB), who in 2015 took four Group 1 sprints for Charlie Hills: the Commonwealth Cup and the July Cup, Prix Maurice de Gheest and British Champions Sprint S. against elders. Like his grandsire Green Desert, Muhaarar has taken up stud duty at Nunnery Stud. The 1998 July Cup winner Elnadim (Danzig) was another outstanding sprinter in the blue and white.     Sheikh Hamdan enjoyed a purple patch in the early 1990s particularly with fillies; during the first seven years of the decade he celebrated five 1000 Guineas winners in Britain, Ireland and France. The first of those was Salsabil (GB) (Sadler's Wells), a daughter of Kilcarn Stud's excellent producer Flame Of Tara (GB) (Artaius), who won the 1989 G1 Prix Marcel Boussac and raised her game at three to take four consecutive Group 1s: the 1000 Guineas, Oaks, Irish Derby and Prix Vermeille. Sheikh Hamdan also scooped up Salsabil's year-younger half-brother Marju (Ire) (Last Tycoon {Ire}), and he won the 1991 G1 St James's Palace S. in the blue and white before becoming a productive sire at Derrinstown Stud. Salsabil produced three stakes winners from five foals for Sheikh Hamdan, the best of those being the G2 Rockfel S. scorer Bint Salsabil (Nashwan), before prematurely dying in 1996.

While Salsabil failed to factor in the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at the end of her 3-year-old campaign and was subsequently retired, another Shadwell filly, this time a homebred, came along on the same card to pick up the baton for the John Dunlop stable. Named Shadayid (Shadeed), she emulated Salsabil with the Boussac/1000 Guineas double-it was Sheikh Hamdan's third win in four years in the Boussac, with Ashayer having also saluted at Longchamp for Dunlop in 1987. Shadayid, like Salsabil, went on to produce three stakes winners and is the third dam of Sheikh Hamdan's homebred GI Vosburgh S. winner Takaful (Bernardini). Dunlop's Mehthaaf (Nureyev)-now the third dam of four-time Group 1 winner and young Darley sire Ribchester (Ire) (Iffraaj {GB})–used a third in the 1993 Boussac as a springboard to Irish 1000 Guineas glory the following spring, while the Hern-trained Harayir (Gulch) led home the Dunlop-trained G1 Fillies' Mile winner Aqaarid (Nashwan) for a Shadwell one-two finish in the 1995 1000 Guineas. Shadwell's Classic crop that year also included the G1 St James's Palace and G1 Queen Elizabeth II S. scorer Bahri (Riverman), and he would go on to sire the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe hero Sakhee, who was bred by Sheikh Hamdan but won at Longchamp in the Godolphin blue. Sheikh Hamdan's roster of trainers by that point had expanded to include Dunlop's son Ed, and it was he who sent out Ta Rib (Mr. Prospector) to win the 1996 G1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches just nine days after breaking her maiden at Newmarket. Rick Nichols, longtime vice president and general manager of Shadwell Farm in Kentucky, where Ta Rib was born, recalled the moments after Ta Rib's maiden victory when her owner dictated that she would back up quickly in a Classic in a 2019 interview with the TDN's Chris McGrath. Standing in the winner's enclosure, Sheikh Hamdan said to his trainer and managers, “Gentlemen, next week I'm going to be in Chantilly, and so is this filly. Would you like to join us?”

Nichols said of his boss in the same interview, “He's an incredible man. He's done so much for me and the people at Shadwell. I lost my father when I was 18–and he was my best friend. Sheikh Hamdan…I wish people could get to know him the way I know him. To me, he's been a father figure. Sometimes like a big brother. Sometimes like a friend.

“He's always the boss, but he'll sit around here and we'll talk just like you and I are talking. In a lot of ways, he's like my father. I think, outside of my father, he's the best friend I've ever had. My father used to take me hunting. Sheikh Hamdan takes me hunting. I've been afforded to do things that kings and queens can't do.

“He's very relaxed. There's not ever any pressure. He knows that as long as he takes care of his people, his people will take care of his horses.”

Sheikh Hamdan closed the 90s with his first of two wins in the G1 Dubai World Cup when the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Almutawakel (Machiavellian), winner of the prior year's G1 Prix Jean Prat, saluted at Nad Al Sheba under Richard Hills. Sheikh Hamdan didn't have to wait long to again taste glory in his nation's greatest race, but the next time it came courtesy of a colt that he plucked privately from Uruguay: Invasor (Arg) (Candy Stripes), who had won that nation's 2005 Triple Crown. Joining Sheikh Hamdan's longtime trainer Kiaran McLaughlin thereafter, Invasor won five straight Grade I races in the U.S.-the Pimlico Special, Suburban H., Whitney H., Breeders' Cup Classic and Donn H.-before taking the 2007 edition of the Dubai World Cup. Invasor was America's Horse of the Year and champion older horse in 2006, the same year that Jazil (Seeking The Gold)-a $725,000 yearling purchase out of the champion broodmare Better Than Honour-won the GI Belmont S., and Sheikh Hamdan was named the Eclipse champion owner in America in 2007, the year that Lahudood won the Flower Bowl and Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

McLaughlin, who trained for Sheikh Hamdan in Dubai for 10 years before moving back to the U.S. and sending out both Invasor and Jazil, said, “Everybody that's in our business dreams of winning the Kentucky Derby but to go back to Dubai and win the world's richest race for Sheikh Hamdan in his presence and country, it doesn't get any better than that. I was blessed to be able to do that with my wife and two kids and he was there that night so it was always the highlight of my career. Even if I had won the Kentucky Derby, it couldn't have gotten better than that.

“I was lucky enough to be with him for 10 years in Dubai. I saw him every day while I was there and he was a special man. He was a great horseman and had a great wealth of knowledge of everything but I loved talking with him about the horses and breeding and racing. He was a wonderful man.

“He made me and other people in his presence always feel so important. He was like a second father to me and I loved visiting with him and being around him. Every September once I moved back to America in 2003 I looked forward to seeing him at the sales. He was a wonderful, wonderful man. Very kind and just a super person to be around.”

The turn of the century saw Classic success for Shadwell continue to flow in Europe, too. Sheikh Hamdan's homebred son of Height Of Fashion, Unfuwain, supplied him a pair of Classic-winning fillies in the early 2000s, with Lahan (GB) taking the 2000 edition of the 1000 Guineas and Eswarah (GB) clinching the 2005 Oaks. Height Of Fashion's female line descendant Ghanaati supplied victory in the 2009 editions of the 1000 Guineas and Coronation S. for trainer Barry Hills.

In 2014, Taghrooda (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) and Tarfasha (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) provided Sheikh Hamdan with another Classic quinella in the Oaks, and Taghrooda would go on to best males by three lengths in the G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. and place in the G1 Yorkshire Oaks and Arc before joining the Shadwell broodmare band. Third in Taghrooda's King George was Shadwell's Mukhadram (GB) (Shamardal), who three weeks earlier had won the Coral-Eclipse. The year 2016 saw further Classic and Breeders' Cup success for the white and blue, with Awtaad (Ire)-now a young sire at Derrinstown Stud-winning the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas for trainer Kevin Prendergast, and Tamarkuz (Speightstown)-who stands at Shadwell Farm-besting the next year's American Horse of the Year Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}) to win the GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

Sheikh Hamdan was leading owner at Royal Ascot in 2020 with six winners on the week, including Battaash in the King's Stand S., Nazeef (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) in the G2 Duke of Cambridge S. and Molatham (GB) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}) in the G3 Jersey S. Mohaather (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) checked in seventh of 15 in the G1 Queen Anne S. at the Royal meeting, but struck a different chord next out when 3 3/4 lengths the best in the G2 Summer Mile S., and when a three-quarter length winner of the G1 Sussex S. in what was hailed as one of the performances of the summer in Britain. He is currently serving his first book at Shadwell Stud.

Sheikh Hamdan's six wins at Royal Ascot last year were supplied by five different trainers, which is indicative of the widespread support he has provided for a wide range of racing's participants. From his initial patronage of Thomson Jones, his British string expanded to the stables of John Dunlop, Robert Armstrong, John Benstead, Peter Walwyn, Alec Stewart and Major Dick Hern. Over the years the names William Haggas, John Gosden, Marcus Tregoning, Barry Hills, Charlie Hills, Ed Dunlop, Owen Burrows, Richard Hannon and Roger Varian have been added to the list of his trainers in the UK. Kevin Prendergast and Dermot Weld have been Shadwell's long-term trainers in Ireland, while in France he utilised John Hammond, Freddy Head, Jean-Claude Rouget and Francois Rohaut. Naturally, Sheikh Hamdan also supported the growth of horseracing in his native country, where his trainers include Doug Watson, Erwan Charpy and Ali Al Rayhi. He was also a key patron of Kiaran McLaughlin in the U.S. and Colin and David Hayes in Australia, and he was also a staunch supporter of South African racing and trainer Mike de Kock. His flagbearers for that yard included Soft Falling Rain (SAf) (National Assembly), who was a Group 1-winning 2-year-old in his native country before traveling to win the G2 Godolphin Mile in Dubai and the G2 Joel S. in Newmarket; and Hawwaam (SAf) (Silvano {Ger}), who has won five Group 1s in South Africa and has recently joined William Haggas's stable in the UK. Shadwell announced in February that the 59 mares, fillies and weanlings that comprise Shadwell's Australian breeding portfolio will be dispersed at the Magic Millions National Sale in May and June.

The greatest measure of Sheikh Hamdan is perhaps evident in the duration of service of so many of his key personnel worldwide. Shadwell Stud Director Richard Lancaster and Racing Manager Angus Gold have been by his side since nearly the start. His close relationship with Nichols was established at the same time as Shadwell Farm itself nearly 40 years ago. Since 1988, he has had just four retained riders: Willie Carson, Richard Hills, Paul Hanagan and Jim Crowley.

Rarely, if ever, has there been someone to touch the Thoroughbred industry so deeply and across so many facets as Sheikh Hamdan did. He had Group 1 winners and champions on five continents. He supported the sport he loved through sponsorships and charitable endeavours, and affected the lives of many of his closest confidants on a personal level. He is not only one of the most outstanding breeders the business will ever see, but he was a great supporter of other breeders through his enthusiastic participation at the sales. The Thoroughbred industry has lost a true giant in Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and he will be sorely missed.

'The whole of Horseracing should be wearing a black armband'

William Haggas, who trained Mukhadram to win the 2014 G1 Coral-Eclipse S., said, “He has enriched the lives of all who knew him, and many who didn't. He has been a fantastic supporter of 'Racing PLC', not only on the racecourse and for the trainers lucky enough to train for him, but also at the sales, where he has been relentless for years.

“He was very loyal, very sporting and very generous. He was also kind, wise and humble, and he was always very approachable, which not many people knew. He had an aura about him, and when you met him in Dubai he was surrounded by lots of people but often in England he would come to see the horses with very few people. It was great to have him when he came because he knew everything about the horses and he loved them.”

Haggas continued, “The tragedy was that last year, through Covid, he didn't get to Royal Ascot. He'd been going to Ascot every year and he didn't have much success latterly. Then last year he had six winners and it was tragic for him that he couldn't be there.

“He was great to train for and he had great respect for his trainers. Whatever the jockey said, his line was always, 'What does the trainer think?' And that's quite rare. He was an extraordinary man and I don't think we will see his like again.”

Willie Carson, rider of Nashwan and Dayjur among other great horses during his time as Sheikh Hamdan's retained jockey, reflected on his involvement with the owner/breeder on the Nick Luck Daily Podcast. He said, “One year I had 13 Group 1 winners and they were nearly all his. He was a quiet man, very loyal; he gave his views of course. He loved the good horses and would often ring up when you had ridden work on one of the stars to ask how it had gone. That's where he got his enjoyment. He was a very passionate owner. The whole of horseracing should be wearing a black armband. I can't believe he's gone. I always liked having my little hug with him at the sales, a sort of yearly reunion as it were.”

Carson added, “Nashwan was obviously a fantastic horse. The record books don't give him credit because you had to see this horse, to see his majestic movement going to post. I was the lucky person who had to sit on him and I used to feel like I was floating on air with that long stride of his. He did what no other horse did.”

Charlie Hills, who succeeded his father Barry in training for Sheikh Hamdan and who has been responsible for the careers of Battaash and Muhaarar, said, “He has been a tremendous supporter of ours. It goes back to 1999 when my father had his first stakes winner for him so he has been here for a long time.

“[His support] was instrumental when I took over, otherwise the operation wouldn't have happened, so it was great having Muhaarar early on. Winning those four consecutive Group 1s as a 3-year-old was a big part of my life and I was so pleased to have a champion for Sheikh Hamdan. To train for someone like him has just been an enormous privilege.”

Marcus Tregoning, trainer of four-time Group 1 winner Nayef and last year's G1 Sussex S. winner Mohaather, said, “Our association started in the early 1980s when Sheikh Hamdan bought Height Of Fashion from The Queen. That was the start of the horses coming to West Ilsley, which was where Dick Hern was training.”

He added, “The early ones were Unfuwain and Nashwan–both out of Height Of Fashion. It was a tremendous excitement getting those, and it snowballed from there.”

He added, “He was always good fun, and loved it–he had great passion for racing.

A couple of years ago he was here with me at Whitsbury, having the usual banter and usual fun. What a lot of people didn't see, which I was very lucky to see, was his sense of humour.

“He had a great love, a passion for racing, and he loved talking about the horses and looking at them and talking about their pedigree, their temperaments, and what they might do. I have to say he was very easy to train for, because generally speaking he'd leave most of it to me. But obviously he had tremendous input too, and it was just always good fun.”

Among the horses trained by Kevin Prendergast for Sheikh Hamdan during their long association were his most recent Classic winner Awtaad (Ire) and Derby runner-up Madhmoon (Ire).

Prendergast said, “He was with me for more than 30 years. He was a great man, a great owner, and he will be sadly missed by all.

“I think I trained the last winner for him, Alhaazm (GB), on Friday night. I won the Irish 2000 Guineas for him with Awtaad in 2016 and I was second in the Derby for him two years ago. They were two highlights, but I had an awful lot of luck for him over the period of time he was with me, and I found him nothing but a gentleman and very loyal owner.”

John Gosden provided Sheikh Hamdan with his third Oaks winner, Taghrooda (GB), following Salsabil (GB) and Eswarah (GB), and also saddled the sheikh's most recent Group 1 winner in October, Nazeef (GB).

Paying tribute to “a truly great international owner, breeder and philanthropist”, the champion trained said, “I have been fortunate to train for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum since the 1980s when I was in California. He has always been an absolute gentleman with a true passion for his horses and a profound and intimate knowledge of them.

“He enjoyed being close to his horses whether on the stud farm, the racecourse or the stables. Sheikh Hamdan was a most respected, loyal, kind and humorous man of great depth and judgement.

“A huge contributor to the development of his country and a truly great international owner, breeder and philanthropist in the worldwide racing industry, he will be greatly missed.”

Jim Crowley, Sheikh Hamdan's retained rider since 2016, said, “It was a huge honour and a privilege to be able to ride for him. He was extremely knowledgeable about his horses. He had a lot of horses in training, but he knew their pedigree inside and out. It was a huge passion for him, he loved it.

“He was very kind and generous, and loyalty is a word that stands out more than the others. You only have to look at his trainers, jockeys–everybody has been with him for the long haul. It's just a real pleasure to have ridden for him.”

Reflecting on Shadwell's championship year in 2020, Crowley added, “It was such a shame last year Sheikh Hamdan couldn't come to Royal Ascot due to Covid and watch the horses run. He had the most unbelievable year in 2020. But before that we'd had some great days. When Sheikh Hamdan came to the races we always had luck. It was great he could be at York to see Battaash win in 2019. That was probably one of the most satisfying days. It was great he could be there as well.”

Richard Hills, Sheikh Hamdan's retained rider from 1997 until his retirement in 2012, said, “It's really sad. We're all devastated. From 17 years old, throughout my whole career to now. He was such a great man, he was like a father to me.

“We had some great times. I was in a lucky position. He was my friend, and I was riding his horses, which was his passion. It was joy all the way through. Every one of the Classic winners I rode him meant everything to me–four Guineas, an Oaks and a Leger. All of them were special.

“Nayef was great because he was out of Height Of Fashion. He was tough and he won six Group 1s. There was Almutawakel who won the Dubai World Cup. I rode 550 winners in Dubai. I don't think I took a week off for 15 years. It was a joy to get up in the morning and ride those horses.”

Annamarie Phelps, chair of the British Horseracing Authority, described Sheikh Hamdan as “a colossus, both here in Britain and on the international stage.”

She said, “Through his vision and passion he built Shadwell Stud from its base in Norfolk to a truly global racing and breeding operation. Thoroughbred and Arabian racehorses as breeds have benefitted inestimably from his determination for constant improvement, as well as his long-held love of the horse and the sport. He will be truly missed.”

Keeneland President and Chief Executive Officer Shannon Arvin said in a statement, “Sheikh Hamdan was a beloved figure around the world, cherished for his grace, humanity, loyalty, knowledge and sportsmanship. While he achieved great success as a Thoroughbred breeder and owner through his global Shadwell Farm operation, he made innumerable contributions to the sport–many of which were behind the scenes. Keeneland is grateful for his strong support of our sales and racing programs, including Shadwell's involvement in our philanthropic activities. Sheikh Hamdan's yearling purchases here include such standouts as Group 1 winner Dayjur and Belmont winner Jazil, and he also participated significantly in our November Breeding Stock Sale. On the race track at Keeneland, Shadwell won nine stakes led by the 2008 [GI] Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup with Alwajeeha. Because of Shadwell's encouragement, Keeneland began the Best Turned Out Awards program to recognize hard-working grooms when Shadwell started to sponsor Keeneland's one-mile turf race during the 1999 Fall Meet. Keeneland is extremely proud of that race, the [GI] Shadwell Turf Mile, which became our first million-dollar event in 2014, anchors our Fall Stars Weekend and is a key stop on the road to the Breeders' Cup.”

Churchill Downs Racetrack President Mike Anderson said in a statement, “Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum's lifelong passion to compete at the highest level on an international stage was epitomized by Invasor, who won the 2006 Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs to clinch Horse of the Year honors. His legacy and famed royal blue and white-striped silks will be fondly remembered by Thoroughbred racing and breeding fans around the world. On behalf of the entire Churchill Downs family, we extend our deepest sympathies to Sheikh Hamdan's family and friends and the entire Shadwell Stable team.”

Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said in a statement, “Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum's passing leaves a huge void in the world of Thoroughbred breeding and racing. The royal blue and white-striped Shadwell colors epitomized excellence and were represented globally by some of the world's finest racehorses. We extend our deepest sympathies to Sheikh Hamdan's family and the entire Shadwell Stable team.”

A statement from Breeders' Cup read, “We were greatly saddened to learn of the passing of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who for many decades was one of our sport's most prominent and influential owners and breeders, represented by his horses capturing many of the world's most prestigious Thoroughbred races. Those outstanding horses include Breeders' Cup Champions Lahudood, Tamarkuz, and Invasor, his Classic winner and 2006 Horse of the Year. In his absence, our community is left with his storied legacy, which includes countless contributions to the Thoroughbred business and bloodlines that will have a lasting positive impact on the breed for generations to come. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends, and the entire Shadwell Stable team.”

Chauncey Morris, current executive director of Kentucky Thoroughbred Association/Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders, Inc., recalls Sheikh Hamdan's philanthropic nature: “In the 1980's, the Maxwell H Gluck research center was being established at UK's campus. Everyone knows about the Gluck's gift to the University, however around the same time there was another gift in the amount of $5-million to UK from the Al Maktoum Family which Ted Bassett was very involved in coordinating. It is my understanding Sheikh Hamdan and his American advisors felt very strongly about this gift, and moreover His Highness Sheikh Hamdan was the largest single contributor to Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome research via our foundation. Beyond being an exceptional sportsman, he and his family are synonymous with transformational largesse that has shaped the industry here in Central Kentucky for the better.”

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