Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 19 November 2017

Why Sheikh is backing the Queen

Marcus Armytage

The world's most powerful owner is not bitter about losing Carlton House.

Even a cursory flick through the list of 231 Derby winners reveals, in any one decade, an accurate picture of the most influential men of the turf at the time.

The Derby has always been the ultimate return on what has often been a massive investment in bloodstock -- both time and money.

In the modern period, however, there is one glaring omission: Sheikh Mohammed, arguably the most powerful owner ever, whose investment in British racing has carried the sport for nearly three decades.

But should Carlton House win, achieving a lifelong ambition for the queen, the colt will become, remarkably, a fifth Derby winner linked to Sheikh Mohammed's operation.

Lammtarra, the first horse and only winner wintered in Dubai by Sheikh Mohammed in the early days of Godolphin, carried the colours of his nephew, Saeed Maktoum Al Maktoum, while New Approach, the 2008 winner, was already a champion two-year-old when he was purchased as a gift for his wife, Princess Haya of Jordan.

High-Rise, in 1998, and Shaamit, in 1996, were owned by close associates of the Sheikh and bred from racehorse families that had belonged to him.

So, while it may trouble some that Sheikh Mohammed's name is not up there in lights beside a Derby winner, it genuinely seems to be the least of the great man's worries. "He likes to see his family, friends and associates doing well," confirms Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager.

"He's really thrilled with the way Carlton House has turned out and if he were to win the Derby, I can assure you he would be as excited as the queen."

Street Cry, the sire, raced for Godolphin at the highest level and Talented, the dam, was one of their very first horses to race in Dubai.

Should Carlton House be led back into Epsom's famously small, circular winner's enclosure, perhaps even by the queen herself, it will not be just a dream come true for the monarch, it will be also be a dream come true for Sheikh Mohammed. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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