Shaikh Mohammad with Godolphin’s Masar that won the Epsom Derby. Image Credit: Twitter/Dubai Media Office

Dubai: At the core of every team, every enterprise, every individual, there lies a fundamental set of principles which determine the goals that must be confronted in order to achieve success.

When Godolphin, the private racing stable representing Dubai’s Maktoum Family, was created by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in the autumn of 1992, it was no different.

Yet, there was a difference. The objective was to search out the world’s most prestigious races, notwithstanding how far the frontier, and bring home the prize.

 My heartfelt congratulations to my brother Mohammad Bin Rashid on winning the Derby. It’s an honourable achievement for all of us.”

 - His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan | Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces 


Most of those have been won, many in exemplary fashion by some of Shaikh Mohammad’s greatest thoroughbreds. However, there was one, one very special prize that remained elusive until Saturday, when Masar, a product of Shaikh Mohammad’s finely-tuned breeding operation at Darley, finally gave him the most coveted prize in flat racing history, the English Derby at Epsom Downs.

Masar trained by Charlie Appleby in Dubai and England, and ridden with supreme confidence by William Buick scored a landmark first victory in Godolphin’s trademark Royal Blue colours.

Queen Elizabeth II congratulates Shaikh Mohammad, Princess Haya and their daughter Shaikha Al Jalila after Masar won the Epsom Derby on Saturday. WAM

The three-year-old colt emulated his sire New Approach, who triumphed in the colours of Princess Haya Bint Al Hussain, wife of Shaikh Mohammad, in the year 2008. A son of the legendary Galileo, New Approach currently stands at Shaikh Mohammad’s Dalham Hall Stud, in Newmarket, England.

In a thrilling renewal of the Epsom Derby, first run 239 years ago, Dee Ex Bee, raced by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, finished second to Masar, and secured an unprecedented 1-2 finish for Dubai-owned horses in the showpiece race.

It was a momentous occasion for Shaikh Mohammad, who since 1977, has been one of horse racing’s most passionate owner, breeder and patron. A life-changing journey that began 41 years ago at Brighton in England, where a filly called Hatta, would give him his first ever victory on the turf, has reached its pinnacle at Epsom.

 I am so happy for Shaikh Mohammad, who so deserved it. Everyone in the team has worked so hard for this.”

 - Princess Haya Bint Al Hussain | Wife of Shaikh Mohammad 


And nobody could have summed up what that victory meant to Shaikh Mohammad than the man himself.

“This is what it is all about — winning big races across the world,” Shaikh Mohammad told ITV Racing presenter, Lydia Hislop.

“It is something special to win the Derby. I am very happy that Masar has won today and very proud that the horse has come from Dubai.

“My daughter is here and she brought all the luck.”

Shaikh Mohammad, who only two months earlier was celebrating a landmark success in Dubai, when Thunder Snow won the $10 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse, added: Horses are my blood so this is a very special day for me. I love horses and I love racing.”

Princess Haya added: “I am so happy for Shaikh Mohammad, who so deserved it. Everyone in the team has worked so hard for this.”

While, no one will doubt that Masar’s victory was the result of a well-oiled operation assiduously pursuing the very goals on which it was built 25 years earlier, you can’t take away the fact that it was as much a victory, a colossal victory at that, for Godolphin’s founder and patron, Shaikh Mohammad.

One key person who could comprehend him significance of Shaikh Mohammad’s first Epsom Derby victory was none other than Queen Elizabeth II, who has never won Britain’s great race herself.

It was a rare sight to see the Queen smiling radiantly as Masar crossed the finish line to the sound of thunder applause from the thousands of passionate racegoers.

Shaikh Mohammad would later meet the Queen and also discuss building on the successful bilateral relations between the UAE and the United Kingdom in all sectors.

Whichever way you look at it, Masar’s Epsom Derby victory has generated major ramifications, not just for the sport of horse racing.

Shaikh Mohammad has proven yet again, that where there is a will, there is a way.