Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance with Richard Lancaster of Shadwell, during the Dubai International Arabian Races at Newbury Racecourse in England. Image Credit: Gulf News archives/Courtesy DIAR

Dubai: It is hard to quantify Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s contribution to the sport of horse racing.

The Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance and Industry passed away on Wednesday. Ever since his first brush with the sport while studying in the Bell School of Languages in Cambridge, England, in the 1960s, Sheikh Hamdan has gone on to build a racing empire that has helped transformed equine sport and taken it to the highest levels.

Sheikh Hamdan established his first racing stable there in 1981 and would begin to invest heavily in both flat racing and breeding.

Through his vision and extraordinary passion for horses, he acquired major breeding operations in England, Ireland and the United States that are run and managed under the Shadwell banner, which is headquartered in Norfolk, England.

The breeding operation has set the standard for breeding excellence and through its many champion stallions has helped enrich the sport, with many Shadwell-bred racehorses winning some of the biggest races.

He owns eight stud farms worldwide containing more than 200 regally bred mares and many top stallions. Six of these are in England while the other two are in Ireland and Kentucky.

As an owner, Sheikh Hamdan has achieved more success than most of his peers with victories in major flat races around the world including the Dubai World Cup (Almutawakel, 1999 and Invasor 2007), The Epsom Derby (Nashwan, 1989 and Erhaab, 1994), Melbourne Cup (At Talaq, 1986 and Jeune, 1994), Breeders’ Cup Classic (Invasor, 2006) and more.

Last year Sheikh Hamdan was adjudged Champion Owner in Britain for the seventh time — an extraordinary achievement given the depth and competition that the sport boasts in the country.

Sheikh Hamdan has enjoyed over 50 Group 1 wins in Europe in addition to big race success in America, Australia, the UK, France, Germany and Dubai.

Sheikh Hamdan has also been passionately involved in promoting the Purebred Arabian across the world through his Dubai International Arabians Races and also the Arabian showhorse through the Dubai Arabian Horse Championship which is held annually.

Additionally Sheikh Hamdan’s racing interests have resulted in the sustained employment of more than 2,000 staff around the world and Shadwell have given back to the sport through their lavish sponsorship portfolio, which is dedicated substantially to the development of racing at Jebel Ali Racecourse.