The horse racing industry has paid tribute after Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance and one of the world’s leading owner-breeders, died on Wednesday.
Sheikh Hamdan's popular blue silks and white epaulettes were twice victorious in the Dubai World Cup, with Almutawakel in 1999 and Invasor in 2007.
He celebrated two Epsom Derby wins with Nashwan in 1989, and Erhaab in 1994, and other Classics such as the 2000 Guineas, 1000 Guineas, the Oaks, Irish Derby, Irish 2000 Guineas, Irish 1000 Guineas and Poule d'Essai des Pouliches.
Other major international successes included two Melbourne Cups with At Talaq in 1986 and Jeune in 1994, the Breeders' Cup Classic with Invasor in 2006, and the Belmont Stakes with Jazil, also in 2006.
Ali Rashid Al Raihe, the veteran Emirati and three-time UAE champion trainer who has a string of Sheikh Hamdan’s horses in training, led the tributes.
“The racing world has lost one of the greatest patrons of the industry and we have lost one of our greatest support to our industry,” Al Raihe said.
“As an owner-breeder, he has contributed enormously towards the racing industry. He pioneered the promotion of the flat racing for Purebred Arabians in the world.”
Sheikh Hamdan’s colours will be carried by five runners across three races in Saturday’s silver jubilee Dubai World Cup meeting.
Al Raihe runs Eqtiraan in the Dubai Turf and Al Zahir in the Dubai Kahayla, while Charles Hills sends out Khaadem and Dubai-based Doug Watson has Motafaawit in the Al Quoz Sprint, and Musabah Al Muhairi runs Zainhom in the Dubai Turf.
Richard Hills, the former retained jockey for Sheikh Hamdan and now the assistant racing manager to the Shadwell operation, told racingpost.com: “It’s very sad news. It’s like losing a boss and a father, as I’ve known Sheikh Hamdan my whole life.
“He was such a good man and we were very close. I know he was very frustrated about not being able to come to Royal Ascot last year when we had six winners, as he loved Ascot. I last spoke to him only a couple of weeks ago and he'll be sorely missed.”
Jim Crowley, Sheikh Hamdan’s retained jockey who rides Al Zahir, Khaadem and Eqtiraan on Saturday, tweeted: “So very sad of the passing of HH Sheikh Hamdam bin Rashid al Maktoum.
“You would not meet a more honest and loyal man, I will be forever grateful to him, it’s been a honour and a privilege to ride for him, my thoughts are with his family.”
Sheikh Hamdan was the leading owner in Britain last season, winning the championship for the seventh time. He was also the leading owner at Royal Ascot.