Dubai: It all began at a British racecourse, when a mischievous horse refused to race — he would not enter the starting gates on the big day.
The consequence: The authorities slapped a six-month ban on the horse, Highland Glen, which disqualified him from racing in the UK.
Highland Glen's embarrassed owner, Queen Elizabeth II, put him up for sale.
And, it was none other than His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who came to the rescue — he offered to buy the horse for a ‘princely sum'.
Queen Elizabeth was surprised to learn that the purchase proposal had been made by her long-time associate, someone who shared her passion for the sport.
She could not sell the horse to Shaikh Mohammad as he was a close friend. The Queen, instead, elected to give him Highland Glen to honour their friendship.
Dazzled for Godolphin
Highland Glen was dispatched to Dubai to join Shaikh Mohammad's Godolphin stable. He left behind his mischief on the shores of Britain.
In Dubai, he was a different horse. On his first start for Godolphin, he dazzled and won the InsideOut Trophy at Meydan racecourse in January 2010.
His performance pleased Shaikh Mohammad, who contacted the Queen's racing manager John Warren and offered a selection of four yearlings sired by his star stallion Street Cry at Darley Stud, as a reciprocal gift to the Queen.
One of the yearlings caught the Queen's fancy. She chose to name it Carlton House.
And this is where the other amazing story unfolds.
Carlton House, the gift by Shaikh Mohammad to Queen Elizabeth, is one of the most talked about horses and is the red-hot favourite to win next month's Epsom Derby, one of the oldest and most famous horse races in the world.
The Queen has never won Epsom, while Shaikh Mohammad has with Lamtara in 1995.
The Queen came closest to winning the Derby when Aureole finished second in 1953, her Coronation Year.
In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Warren said she wants to lift the trophy on June 4, and three-year-old Carlton House could make that dream come true.
"Every racehorse owner wants to win the Derby. Her Majesty is no exception," he said by phone from Highclere Stud in Berkshire.
"She has had many horses in the race that did not win, so she is aware at this point of time, of the odds of winning.
"She's impressed with Carlton House's attitude and believes that he has what it takes to win a race like the Derby. But she's been in this business too long to take anything for granted. Anything can happen, but she's keeping her fingers crossed."