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Al Maktoums enjoy special role at Royal Ascot

Horses under the Royal family's stable have produced dominating performances

Gulf News

Dubai: As the Royal Meeting celebrates its tercentenary it seems appropriate to weigh up the impact that the Al Maktoum family has had at the historic meeting.

The Al Maktoums first announced themselves as major players in the world of horse racing in 1985 when the maroon and white silks of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, were carried to a landmark victory in the St. James's Palace Stakes (Group 1) by a horse called Bairn.

Ridden by the legendary Lester Piggott and trained by Luca Cumani, Bairn became the first of many Al Maktoum-owned horses who would leave their mark in Royal Ascot's showpiece races.

And it did not take very long.

Red letter day

On the same day Al Bahathri, carrying the blue and white colours of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, won the Coronations Stakes (Group 1), making it a red letter day for the Al Maktoum family who would go on to win an incredible 45 Group 1 races at Britain's most prestigious racing festival.

There are seven Group One races run over the five days at Royal Ascot and Al Maktoum-owned horses have made a mark in each of them with the Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) being the race they have won the most, with 11 victories.

Emirati trainer

Emirati trainer Saeed Bin Surour has led seven horses racing under the banner of the Al Maktoum-owned Godolphin to victory in the race which is traditionally contested by Europe's top older milers.

Bin Surour first won the race in 1996 with Charnwood Forest and repeated that feat with Allied Forces (G2 - 1997), Intikhab (G2 - 1998), Cape Cross (G2 - 1999), Dubai Destination (G1 - 2003), Refuse To Bend (G1 - 2004), Ramonti (G1 - 2007).

In addition, Shaikh Mohammad won the race in his own colours in 1994 with Barathea, while Shaikh Hamdan claimed two successes with Waajib (1988) and Lahib (1992).

The late Shaikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum also won the Queen Anne in 2002 with No Excuse Needed.

The Prince of Wales' Stakes, one of the richest and most prestigious Group One contests at the Royal meeting, has been won on ten occasions by Al Maktoum-owned horses.

Impressive record

Mtoto, owned by Major General Shaikh Ahmad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police and Public Security, famously scored back-to-back victories in 1987-'88 while Bin Surour also has an impressive record in the race with four successes.

His first win came in 1998 with Faithful Son before he strung together a hat-trick of wins between 2000-2002 courtesy Dubai Millennium, Fantastic Light and Grandera.

Al Maktoum-owned horses have also won the St. James's Palace Stakes (Group 1) seven times, the Gold Cup and Coronation Stakes on six occasions, and the Golden Jubilee Stakes four times.

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