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Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al MaktoumGeorge Crofton
George Crofton


24th March

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy ruler of Dubai, elder brother of Sheikh Mohammed and founder of the world famous Shadwell Estates operation, has died aged 75.

One of the most prominent and influential figures in international horseracing for more than four decades, he was introduced to the world of thoroughbred flat racing while studying in Cambridge between 1967 and 1968.

Sheikh Hamdan helped to change the face of horse racing in Britain and across the world through his investment in sponsorship, equine property and bloodstock, racing thousands of horses in his legendary blue and white silks. Amongst the many runners were the likes of champions Nashwan (1989 winner of the 2,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, Eclipse Stakes and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes), Dayjur (1990 British Horse of the Year and European Champion Sprinter), Nayef (Champion Stakes, 2001; Dubai Sheena Classic, International Stakes, 2002; Prince of Wales’s Stakes, 2003) and, more recently, specialist sprinter Battaash (King George Stakes, 2017–2020; Cartier Champion Sprinter, 2020).

He established his first racing stable in the UK in 1981 with his investment over the years translating into great success on the race track. Most notably he enjoyed Derby successes with Nashwan (1989) and Erhaab (1994) as well as numerous other Classics such as the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas, Epsom Oaks, Irish Derby, Irish 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas and a string of other Group 1s in Britain, Ireland and France. In addition to more than fifty European Group 1 wins, Sheikh Hamdan also enjoyed big race successes in Australia (Melbourne Cup 1986 & 1994), America (Breeders’ Cup Classic and Belmont Stakes 2006) and Dubai (Dubai World Cup 1999 & 2007). He was named British flat racing Champion Owner in 1990, 1994, 1995, 2002, 2005, 2014, 2019 and 2020.

He purchased Shadwell Estate, near Thetford in Norfolk, in 1984 with the likes of Green Desert (July Stakes, 1985; July Cup, 1986; Sprint Cup, 1986) standing at the stud, while sister operations are run at Derrinstown Stud near Maynooth, County Kildare and at Shadwell Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, USA.

Following on from the death of another great patron and rival, Prince Khalid Abdullah in January this year, Sheikh Hamdan's loss will be felt keenly around the racing world. Despite this, his impact on the sport and his legacy will last for many years to come.