If polo is the sport of kings than horse racing is most definitely a royal passion..
It is said that “horses are in their blood” and nothing could be truer given the number of royal families investing in horse racing and competing around the world today. Of course in Britain the Royal family has shared a profound passion for horse racing since the days of King Charles II.
Today it’s not just kings who have a passion for horse racing, Queen Elizabeth of course owns several top thoroughbreds and has never missed a day at Royal Ascot -- one of the highlights of Britain's racing calendar -- since her coronation 64 years ago, and then there’s countless princes, princesses, Sheikhs & Sultans who are all involved in the sport but who dominates racings “Game of Thrones?”
1. He has been dubbed the man who changed racing - Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, most commonly known as Sheikh Mohammed, ruler of Dubai and vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. He is also the founder of Godolphin – the world’s largest horse racing operation – and the architect behind the Dubai World Cup.
For Sheikh Mohammed, horses and racing have long been a part of his life, an active participant in two different horse racing sports — Thoroughbred racing and long-distance endurance racing, Sheikh Mohammed dominance of the sport has been nothing short of swift and spectacular.
Established in 1992, Godolphin, which is aptly named after one of the three Middle Eastern stallions from which all modern thoroughbreds are said to be descended, today has operations in six countries on four continents and some 1,500 employees all over the world. The scale is as impressive as the results. Since 1992, Godolphin horses have won more than 4,000 races, including more than 1,000 Stakes races and 250 Group 1s around the world. Over the years, Godolphin has bred several champions, including Dubai Millennium, who won the Dubai World Cup in 2000. Sheikh Mohammad considers him to be the best horse ever prepared by Godolphin.
Today Team Godolphin has some 5,000 horses across its breeding division the Darley stud, caters to about 80 stallions across seven countries around the world. Its most treasured asset is stallion Dubawi, son of the great Dubai Millennium. In 2018, Dubawi was ranked the most successful sire in the world and commands a stud fee of £250,000
2. Ranked second is Prince Khalid Abdullah Al Saud a member of Saudi Arabia's House of Saud, owner of the prestigious Juddmonte Farms which is headquartered in Kentucky in the US. Since its founding in 1977 it has enjoyed phenomenal success with some of the best horses in history, most notably British thoroughbred, Frankel, rated the greatest racehorse in decades, with an unbeaten record of 14 starts with 10 Group 1 victories and a classic win .
To date Juddmonte has bred 111 individual Group/Grade 1 winners of 217 Group/Grade 1 races, including 26 Classic winners and two US Classic winners.
Frankel, the world's most successful horse who commands a stud fee of £175,000 is the farm's leading sire with well over 100 foals, at Royal Ascot this year, Frankel’s offspring secured three wins and two runner-up finishes, netting a cool £750,000 in prize money and considering he only has two full crops of foals in the racing arena thus far this is a brilliant achievement
3. Prized for its Arabians horses, Qatar has long been associated with the world of horse racing with several fractions of the ruling Al Thani family running independent equine operations.
Across Europe and the America’s the main operator is Qatar Racing headed up by Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, the Qatar-based sheikh who has become an increasingly influential racing figure. Along with his three brothers he heads up Qatar Racing, Qatar Bloodstock & Pearl Bloodstock it is said his hunger for knowledge is extraordinary. During 2017 the Qatar Racing earnt nearly $2.5million in winnings so it is surprising to learn that Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, only watched his first horse race on TV in 2008 and attended his first meeting at the start of 2010. During that first year of racing, his horses won an impressive 26 per cent of the races he entered and the rest you can say it history.
4. Generation after generation, the Royal Family has shared a profound passion for horses and HM Queen Elizabeth’s interest in racing is no secret. The 91-year-old monarch was given her first pony when she was 4 and won her first race as an owner in 1949 as a 23-year-old princess.
Over the past three decades she has won over $8.8 million and is one of the nation’s most successful owners with 1,700 winners to her name. An accomplished rider herself, she currently owns about 25 horses who are mostly stabled at the stud on the Sandringham estate in rural Norfolk. She has won all but one of the five British classic races -- the Epsom Derby is the only one to elude her.
Out of 2,830 races her 100 horses have run in, they’ve won 451 of them earning HM over $9million during her 31 years of racing, mathematically, this places her horses on a 16% winning percentage however her most successful year was two years ago in 2016 when her winnings totaled $775,325, but possibly her greatest triumph was in 2013 when her horse “Estimate” won the Gold Cup during the Royal Ascot meeting the first time in the two centuries of the race it has been won by a reigning monarch.
5. The house of Sabah Kuwait’s ruling family and owners of Al Areen Racing currently have horses in training with David O’Meara, William Knight, John Quinn and Richard Fahey, he has owned a few horses in the past, but his involvement in British horse-racing has got altogether more serious over the past few years.
Notable horses who have carried his colours since his first foray onto British scheme in 2013 have included Salateen, Areen Heart and Trading Point.