After persuading his father Faisal Farooq to reconsider the family’s involvement in the horse racing industry, it took just over eight months for Ali Farooq to establish the Farooq Racing Syndicate.
With 13 thoroughbreds in a stable located at the Al Ain Equestrian, Golf and Shooting Club, the new stable is ready for the start of the new UAE racing season, with five horses entered for the season opening Jebel Ali meeting on Friday.
“Last year, I told my father to wind up all our interest in racing from outside the country and establish a base in Dubai,” said Ali Farooq, the racing manager of Farooq Racing Syndicate.
“He gave me the go ahead and it took little over eight months to begin our new journey.”
Ali brought in Irishman Danny Murphy, their trainer in Malaysia, and has boosted their options in the stables with a number of purchases, including five two-year-olds from the United Kingdom.
General Marshall, purchased from South African trainer Mike de Kock’s stable, is expected to get the new syndicate off to a flying start at Jebel Ali in a 1,000-metre sprint for maidens.
“He’s one of the stable's leading players in our first season and we hope the two-year-olds can go close in next week’s first meeting of the season at the Meydan Racecourse,” he said.
According to Ali, his father has been a racehorse owner since he was 18 and now counts more than 55 years in the industry.
“He had horses in Australia and England, and later in Malaysia and the UAE,” Ali said. “I went to Australia in 1991/92 and did a course in horse business management.”
Ali also worked there for two years as an apprentice at the Emirates Park for Emirati owner Nasser Lootah. Thereafter, he joined his father to take care of his interest in Australia, Malaysia and Dubai.
“Horse racing is part of our family, culture and heritage,” Ali said. “It’s in our blood. This is the only thing I know how to do. And this is what I have been doing all my life.
“We started by owning a few horses ourselves, and we wanted to get a little bigger and own more. I spoke to a few friends and they came in, and a few more joined later on.
“It’s still small and we want to draw a few more partners in. The plan is to rope in a few more Emiratis and get more horses, and the idea, hopefully, is to win a Group 1 race internationally for the UAE. That would be the dream.
“Of course we’ll try to send out some runners to Australia and England but that’s going to take time. We have goals for our first season, which is to compete locally first.
Ali has high hopes in several juveniles, including Emirates Warrior, Zahrat Jumeirah, Scarlet Paradise, Army Of One and Fierce Angel.
“We have goals and we have dreams [but] the realistic [target] is to compete, which is hopefully to have a runner in both the UAE Guineas and the Derby,” Ali said.
“In the next five years we plan to win one of these classics. As an Emirati, we would love to win one of these prizes in front of our family and partner-friends."
Farooq Racing Syndicate have also partnered with a bloodstock agency in Europe to buy yearlings from the United States and sell them in Europe at the breeze-up sales, where horses yet to compete in a race are "breezed" or galloped with the purpose of timing them before they are sold.
Murphy has been a globe trotter and has been training for Farooq Racing over the past few years.
“The racing in Malaysia didn’t go well because the prize monies went down,” Murphy said on his new adventure in the UAE. “They asked me if I was interested to train in Dubai and I accepted. It wasn’t a hard decision because I was very friendly with Farooq Racing."
Murphy has a 100 per cent record in the UAE. He flew down Terfel who he owned from Singapore to win the Derrinstown Stud Handicap at Nad Al Sheba in 2005.
“That was a great moment but I wish the best is yet to come for me as a race horse trainer,” he said.
Prior to that, Terfel was the winner of the Singapore Gold Cup.
“The funny part was nobody wanted to buy this horse,” he said. “He won €770,000 [Dh3.2 million] and he came to Dubai and won another US$150,000 [Dh550,900].
“I was so lucky I couldn’t sell him or give him away. He won a million dollars in three months. It was unbelievable."
Murphy says the new project of the Farooq Racing Syndicate have started well.
“It’s a three-year plan realistically,” he said. “I have been since July so the horses are pretty forward. They are fit and healthy.
“And what I like about Farooq Racing is the father has been in racing for over 50 years. Hopefully we can keep the tradition up.”