UK village thanks the Ruler of Dubai

Nearly 300 centuries after the power of the Arabian stallion was first recognised by the racing world, his winning ways continue for residents of a small village at the very tip of England.

The chapel in the Godolphin Cross village in Cornwall. Courtesy Godolphin Cross Community Association
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The small village of Godolphin Cross, at the tip of England, has Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid to thank for being able to buy their village hall.

The village was at risk of losing the former chapel, which is being sold by the Methodist church.

But a donor, since revealed to be the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai – whose racing stable is also named Godolphin – has allowed the villagers to buy their hall.

Their community association asked Sheikh Mohammed for help in November.

“These kinds of things don’t normally happen,” said association chairman Richard McKie.

“It’s a fairy tale. It’s not often a sheikh steps in to help a Cornish village.”

After first describing him only as an “international donor”, Mr McKie told the Cornwall Live website: “It was Sheikh Mohammed.”

The association had only raised about a quarter of the Dh460,000 asking price for the hall that doubles as the village’s community centre.

Mr McKie said the association would now make a formal offer to buy the chapel.

“We can’t thank Sheikh Mohammed enough and we’d love to see him in this neck of the woods any time,” he said. “He would be assured of a very warm welcome.

“I think this shows that he’s interested in the history and values this Cornish link.”

The Cornish village takes its name from the nearby estate of the Second Earl of Godolphin, who bought a magnificent Arabian stallion for breeding until its death in 1753.

Sheikh Mohammed’s stables were also named after that horse.

“There never was such a horse,” the veterinary surgeon William Osner wrote of Godolphin Arabian in 1756.

“His shoulders were deeper and lay farther back into his back than any horse’s yet seen. The muscles of his loins rose excessively high, broad and expanded with greater strength and power than in any horse I believe yet seen of his dimensions.”

Godolphin Arabian was one of three stallions that would be the foundation of the thoroughbred stock.

The original Godolphin Arabian is thought to have come from Yemen and was once owned by the King of France until being taken to Britain in 1733.

Little regarded at first, the stallion was once used as a carthorse until his breeding ability was recognised by the Godolphin family.

Crossed with the European horses used for racing in the 18th century, his sires proved to be exceptionally fast, with one winning the Queen’s Plate at Newmarket nine times in a row.