Newbury: Scottish jumps racing has received a significant boost with the groundbreaking announcement that Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, will sponsor a race during the historic two-day Ayr Gold Cup festival this weekend.
The race will be run under the banner of Shadwell, the renowned breeding empire of Shaikh Hamdan, one of the world’s most successful owners and breeders of race horses.
This is the first time that Shaikh Hamdan, who has been a long-time supporter of British racing, will sponsor a race in Scotland.
Speaking about how the deal came about, Mirza Al Sayeg, Director of Shaikh Hamdan’s office, said in London yesterday: “Shaikh Hamdan’s love for horse racing is well-documented as a result of his involvement with the sport for the past 30 years, as an owner, breeder and promoter.
“He is always looking for new frontiers to take this passion that he has for promoting the sport, and Scotland became a perfect choice following a meeting with the First Prime Minister of Scotland Alex Hammond.
“Mr Hammond lauded Shaikh Hamdan’s untiring efforts to promote horse racing and to provide careers and job opportunities for thousands of Britons, and enquired if he would like to be involved with Scottish racing by lending his support to one of the races,” Al Sayeg said.
“Shaikh Hamdan was fascinated by the suggestion and without hesitation said yes, he would like to sponsor a race in Scotland. And so it was decided that one of the races at the historic Ayr Gold Cup meeting would be run under the name of Shadwell.”
The Ayr Gold Cup Festival was established in 1804 and is the principal meeting of the season.
Al Sayeg also revealed that, following the success of sponsoring races for the first time in Australia, Shaikh Hamdan was looking to extend his support to Germany and Italy.
“Shaikh Hamdan has the best interests of the sport at heart and, coupled with his worldwide sponsorship, he hopes to change the way that sport is promoted and change the perception of the racing industry and help it capture more credibility,” he said.
Al Sayeg also joined Shaikh Hamdan in lauding the efforts of Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, who is also a major promoter of Arabian horse racing around the world through his Global Flat Racing Festival.
“Shaikh Mansour’s efforts to promote Arabian racing around the world have helped raise the sport’s profile and to provide more opportunities with lovers of the Arabian horse to breed and compete in more events, which can only benefit the breed,” said Al Sayeg.