Few in the history of Thoroughbred, and Arabian horses racing for that matter, have ever created as much lasting joy in the respective sports than Godolphin owner Sheik Mohammed’s older brother Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
And sadly, as you wake this morning, overnight the great owner, breeder passed away.
He was 75.
His unanticipated death comes only three days before Dubai World Cup day and in the same year as the passing of another internationally prominent owner and breeder, Juddmonte’s Prince Khalid bin Abdullah in January.
Sheikh Hamdan’s horses have twice won the big Dubai World Cup – Almutawakel in 1999 and in 2007 with Invasor.
Unlike his younger brother Sheikh Mohammed, whose Godolphin racing and Darley breeding operations have concentrated just on Thoroughbreds, Sheikh Hamdan was equally interested and invested in the Arabian breed.
He will be represented on Saturday’s Dubai World Cup day card by Al Zahir in the traditional Kayhala Classic, a 2000m event restricted to purebred Arabians.
Sheikh Hamdan created Shadwell Stud in 1980. His racing colours, seen to advantage many times in Australia, were blue with white epaulets. They were carried to success in two Gr 1 Melbourne Cups – 1986 (At Talaq) and 1994 (Jeune).
He won the coveted Eclipse Award in 2007 as an owner and over the past 20 years he has on 32 occasions bought yearlings at Keeneland for $1million or more!
His contribution to the sport has been massive.
His runners twice won both the 2000 Guineas (1989, 2004) and the Epsom Derby (1989, 1994). Sheikh Hamdan was a three-time victor in the Epsom Oaks and captured the English 1000 Guineas five times.
Outside of racing he was a great philanthropist contributing millions to the advancement of education in particular.
His contribution to the racing industry as well as to the world in general, will be greatly missed.