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The Maktoums: Legends of the Turf (Third Edition) E-mail



On October 15, 1976, a filly passed through the sales ring at Tattersalls, in Newmarket, England. She was purchased by a member of the Ruling family from the little-known sheikhdom of Dubai, in the Arabian Gulf. Nearly a quarter of a century later, the Maktoum family and Dubai are easily identifiable within the sport of horse racing, not only as the sport’s largest investors but as leaders, some of the few capable of bringing racing into the 21st Century as a modern and successful entity.

During the same time period, Dubai has grown into one of the world’s most modern cities and, fittingly, one of the fastest growing racing centres in the world.

This third edition of The Maktoums: Legends of the Turf, was released at a time when the impact of the Maktoum family on the sport had never been greater. From the Breeders’ Cup to the Dubai World Cup, Godolphin had made 1999 a year of unparalleled success, even judged by its own exacting standards.

Elsewhere the Dubai World Cup meeting had also grown perceptibly into a global festival. Headlined by the richest horse race in the world, the complete meeting carried some $12 million in prize money. In light of the sport’s infancy in Dubai, which had seen less than a decade of racing under rules, the achievement was even more remarkable.

The Maktoum racing empire continued to be both a bastion of traditional sporting values, and one which was primed to take the sport into the new millennium. This was a rare combination in an era of win-at-all-costs professional sports. Witness the Emirates Airline-sponsored World Racing Series, which also drew much of its impetus from Dubai, and the fledgling Shergar Cup, two innovations which brought racing forward.

Since the second edition of this book there were many changes within the empire, aside from continued progress in and from Dubai. For some time there had been underlying discussion as to the future of the world’s largest racehorse-owning conglomerate. Would it disappear with the four brothers, Sheikh Maktoum, Sheikh Hamdan, Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Ahmed? People were not listening, but the answer was there in the history of the Maktoum family which has always maintained an interest in equestrian sport.

If proof were needed, it arrived in 1998 in the form of Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum. The eldest son of Sheikh Mohammed – the single largest thoroughbred owner in the world today – had his first British winner in the summer. Sheikh Rashid was already a noted horseman, an endurance champion, and dynamic in his love for the turf.

Back in Dubai, many of Sheikh Rashid’s brothers and cousins are involved with horses, ensuring that the future of the Maktoum Empire has never been more secure.