Hamdan Al Maktoum

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.

Paul & Clare Rooney

Leading owners Paul and Clare made headlines in late 2018 when, in a letter reported to the Racing Post, they informed trainers not to enter their horses at Cheltenham Racecourse for fear of injury. In 2017, the Rooneys owned Willoughby Court, winner of the Neptune Investment Management Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but subsequently lost two horses, Starchitect and Melrose Boy, who were both put down after sustaining injuries in races at the Gloucestershire track in December, 2017, and March, 2018, respectively. The couple reversed its decision in February, 2019 but, even so, still had no runners at the Cheltenham Festival in 2019.


Nevertheless, since they made their racecourse debut in January, 2012, the Rooneys’ blue and yellow racing colours have become a familiar sight, under both codes, on racecourses the length and breadth of Britain. Despite removing horses from Scottish trainer James Ewart in 2014, and their entire string, over 60 horses, from Cheshire trainer Donald McCain the following year, the couple still owns hundreds of horses in training with dozens of trainers, including Kim Bailey, Gordon Elliott, Harry Fry, Philip Hobbs, Ben Pauling and David Pipe. In 2016, they became seriously involved in Flat racing and recorded their first Group One winner, My Dream Boat, in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.


Paul Rooney prefers National Hunt racing, while his wife Clare, despite a background in eventing, prefers Flat racing. However, with a fortune estimated at £100 million – a substantial proportion of which has been invested in horse racing, under both codes, in recent seasons – the Rooneys seem certain to remain prominent owners in the discipline(s) on which they choose to concentrate for years to come. In National Hunt racing alone, in just over seven years’ involvement, the Rooneys have increased their total earnings from a respectable £13,000 in 2011/12, to over £600,000 in 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/2018 and 2018/19. Indeed, their most recent Grade One winner in that sphere was If The Cap Fits, trained by Harry Fry, in the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree om April 6, 2019.

JP McManus

Limerick-born John Patrick McManus, almost invariably known in horse racing circles as ‘J.P.’, bought Cill Dara, the first horse to carry his distinctive colours of emerald green and gold hoops, with a white kit, in 1976. Indeed, those colours, which have become so familiar throughout the world National Hunt racing, on both sides of the Irish Sea, in the last four decades or so, replicate the playing kit of South Liberties, seven-time winners of the Limerick Senior Hurling Championships.


Nowadays, McManus, 68, has a net worth of €2.1 billion and owns, quite literally, hundreds of horses in training in Britain and Ireland. Notorious as a feared, but fearless, gambler and christened the ‘Sundance Kid’ by one British journalist in his heyday, McManus registered his first victory at the Cheltenham Festival with Mister Donovan, trained by Edward O’Grady, in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in 1982, reportedly collecting £250,000 in a single bet. He also reportedly relieved the late Freddy ‘Fearless’ Williams of £600,000 when Reveillez won the Jewson Novices’ Chase – now the JLT Novices’ Chase – in 2006. In recent years, McManus has curtailed his betting activity and, by his own admission, no longer feels the compulsion to ‘to have a bet on every race’, as was once the case.


However, that hasn’t stopped him racking up a total of 58 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, making him the most successful owner in the history of the March showpiece meeting by the proverbial ‘country mile’. McManus has won the Champion Hurdle eight times, with Istabraq three times, in 1998, 1999 and 2000, Binocular in 2010, Jezki in 2014 and Buveur D’Air twice, in 2017 and 2018, and Espoir d’Allen in 2019, making him the most successful owner in the history of the race. He has also won the Stayers’ Hurdle three times, with Baracouda twice, in 2002 and 2003 and More Of That in 2014, and the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Synchronised in 2012. Away from Prestbury Park, McManus has also won the Grand National, with Don’t Push It in 2010 and, all told, has over a hundred Grade One victories to his name.



Founded in 1992 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, now Ruler of Dubai, Godolphin is the largest thoroughbred horse racing and bloodstock operation in the world. The enterprise is named in honour of the Godolphin Arabian, one of the three foundation sires that were the progenitors of the Thoroughbred breed who, in turn, was named after his most famous owner, Francis, Second Earl of Godolphin.

Godolphin has its headquarters in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, but is a truly global operation with stables and breeding establishments in Britain, Ireland, France, the United States, Japan and Australia. In Britain, Godolphin operates two training yards, Moulton Paddocks and Godolphin Stables, formerly Stanley House Stables, both of which are in Newmarket.


Between 2010 and 2013, Moulton Paddocks was run by Mahmood Al Zarooni, who was ‘warned off’ for eight years by the British Horseracing Authority after admitting administering anabolic steroids to a total of 15 horses in his care, effectively ending his career in racing. Al Zarooni was subsequently replaced by Charlie Appleby, who had previously worked for Sheikh Mohammed for 15 years, including as assistant trainer to Al Zarooni.


Appleby splits his year between Moulton Paddocks, in the summer, and Marmoom Stables, situated in the desert to the south of the City of Dubai, in the winter. From his winter base, Appleby principally prepares his string for the most valuable race meeting in the world, the Dubai World Cup Carnival, which is staged annually between January and March at nearby Meydan Racecourse. Godolphin Stables, on the other hand, is the summer base of the longest-standing Godolphin trainer, Saeed bin Suroor. He, too, splits his year between Newmarket and Dubai, spending the winter months in Al Quoz Stables in the heart of the City of Dubai.


Over the years, Godolphin has employed several high-profile jockeys, including Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori, Silvestre de Sousa and Mickaël Barzalona, who remains the principal Godolphin rider in France. In Britain, the iconic royal blue silks are most often worn by retained jockeys William Buick and James Doyle. All told, Godolphin has produced over 5,000 winners worldwide, including 300 at Group One, or Grade One, level. Landmark victories include the first ever Classic winner for Godolphin, Balanchine, ridden by Frankie Dettori, in the Oaks in 1994 and, more recently, the first ever Derby winner, Masar, ridden by William Buick in 2018.