One of the greatest benefactors of modern horse racing is His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Known affectionately as Sheikh Mo to racing fans around the world, the likable Ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates is passionate about the sport. He is also known for his kindness to fellow horsemen and for hosting the Dubai Racing Carnival, one of the richest events in horseracing.
Sheikh Mo and Horse Racing
Sheikh Mo has a lifelong love of horses and racing. Although he is a descendant of one of the most important and notable tribes in Arabia, His Highness interacts with racing fans wherever he goes. He is known for his beaming smile and generosity.
As a young man, Sheikh Mohammad galloped horses bareback and occasionally competed in bareback races on Jumeirah Beach. While pursuing an education at Cambridge in England, the young ruler was exposed to sanctioned horse races. His first live event was watching Royal Palace capture the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. This occurred in 1967. Just ten years later, Sheikh Mo became a race horse owner.
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The venture was an immediate success. The very first filly owned by Sheikh Mo became a stakes winner. It wasn’t long before the future leader had begun to develop the Godolphin Racing Stables which would go on to become one of the most powerful horseracing operations in the world today.
The Dubai World Cup Racing Carnival
As the Godolphin Stable of horses grew, Sheikh Mo and company enjoyed tremendous success. The horses owned and managed by the stable have competed on four different continents. The stable has multiple graded stakes wins to its credit and regularly places horses in the biggest events in racing.
When Sheikh Mo made the decision to winter his horses in Dubai, it wasn’t long before he created the Dubai World Cup Racing Carnival. This yearly event is conducted from January to March each year and awards over $10 million US in prize money. The hallmark event of the carnival is the Dubai World Cup. For many years, this event was the richest in racing. The best horses from all over the world compete for a purse as large as $6 million US.
While some might think that Sheikh Mo would structure the races of the Dubai Racing Carnival to benefit his own horses, this is not the case. It has been a rare event for a Godolphin horse to capture the main event of the carnival. Sheikh Mohammad welcomes all competitors and is a gracious host.
Sheikh Mo’s Benevolence
In March of 2012, one of horse racing’s most respected trainers suffered a heart attack during the Dubai Cup Racing Carnival. Bob Baffert, the trainer of racing’s most recent Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, fell ill and it was discovered that he had endured a life threatening cardiac event. Baffert was rushed to a Dubai hospital where he was given surgery and recovered.
It was the photo which emerged a day later that garnered worldwide attention. In the photo, a concerned Sheikh Mo can be seen standing beside the bedridden Baffert. Not many people can say they have received a visit from a world leader while in the hospital. It is also believed that Sheikh Mo helped to insure that Baffert received the best care available. While the men are competitors on the track, the kindness of Sheikh Mo in Baffert’s time of need cannot be overstated.
Sheikh Mo also works hard to protect the welfare of thoroughbred horses. He has been a tireless advocate for those who work in the sport as grooms and occupy other menial positions. His Highness is possessed of a graciousness that makes him loved and respected by racing fans all over the world.
It is a comfort to many fans of horseracing that the sport has a man like the leader of Dubai involved. He has proven himself to be a man of integrity, compassion, and genuine kindness. His racing and breeding operations are of the highest standard and raise the bar for the entire industry.
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