Hamdan Al Maktoum, or His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum to give him his full title, is the second-eldest brother of the ruling family of Dubai. However, in horse racing circles, he is better known as the owner of Shadwell Racing, whose distinctive silks, of cobalt blue with white epaulettes, have been borne to victory by numerous outstanding thoroughbreds during the last four decades.
Hamdan Al Maktoum developed an interest in horse racing while studying in Cambridge in the late Sixties, after travelling with his brother, Sheikh Mohammed, to watch Royal Palace win the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket in 1967. He registered his first victory as an owner when the two-year-old Mushref, trained by the late Harry Thomson ‘Tom’ Jones and ridden by Paul Cook, won a minor event at Redcar on July 30, 1980.
Four years later, in 1984, Hamdan Al Maktoum purchased the 6,000-acre Shadwell Estate, near Thetford, Norfolk and embarked on an enterprise that would make him one of the foremost owner-breeders of his generation. Shadwell Estate has become the British base for what is one of the most respected bloodstock operations in the world, with major facilities not only in England, but also in Ireland and the United States.
Hamdan Al Maktoum has won the British Flat Owners Championship four times, in 1990, 1995, 2002, and 2005 and has 12 British Classics to his name. Down the years, some of his truly great horses have included Nashwan, winner of the 2,000 Guineas, Derby, Coral-Eclipse and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1989, Dayjur, winner of the King’s Stand Stakes, Nunthorpe Stakes, Ladbrokes Sprint Cup and Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp in 1990 and Salsabil, winner of the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and Irish Derby in the same year.
Hamdan Al Maktoum is famous for his loyalty and has only ever had four stable jockeys, Willie Carson, Richard Hills, Paul Hanagan and, most recently, Jim Crowley, although he also currently retains the services of Dane O’Neill as his second jockey.