Prince Khalid bin Abdullah: Remembering an icon of the turf

3 days ago 8

Dubai: The passing of legendary horse owner-breeder Prince Khalid bin Abdullah on Tuesday has shocked the racing world’s very soul.

However, the legacy that he leaves behind will be immortalised within contemporary horse racing and its culture.

The many tributes that are pouring in for the Saudi royal illustrate the huge impact that his death has had on the Sport of Kings, which he ruled for over four decades.

Hall of Fame trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori, who formed a formidable team with Prince Khalid, led the tributes with the former saying: “His charming and humorous manner was coupled with a great strategic approach, both in business and in his horse racing and breeding operation.”

Prince Khalid bin Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, centre, owner of Workforce, ridden by jockey Ryan Lee Moore of Great Britain, left, celebrate with the trophy after winning the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Europe's premier middle-distance horse race, in 2010. Image Credit: AP

Prince Khalid was one of the most successful and prolific owners of the modern generation with a list of great horses too long to recall.

He was a key player in the evolution of British horse racing since the 1970s not just through the champions that he raced but also through the champions that he bred at the world renowned Juddmonte Farms International in the UK, Ireland and United States.

Prince Khalid was one of the sons of Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman, a younger half-brother of King Abdulaziz. He is also is a half-first cousin to all the sons of King Abdulaziz and the six siblings who have ruled modern Saudi Arabia in succession to their father the founder.

At the races

Prince Khalid, who was born in Ta’if in 1937, studied history in the United States and Riyadh, and worked for a time at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

However, it was when he embarked on building a business empire with the launch of Mawarid Holding, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest and most diversified private companies, with extensive dealings in financial services, manufacturing, construction, medical supplies, catering, telecommunications and the media, that he really made his mark.

Although his father had owned horses, Prince Khalid’s first brush with the sport of racing came while on a visit to Longchamp racecourse in France with friends in 1956.

But it was in the late 1970s that he began to develop what would become a lifelong passion for the sport that was so close to his heart.

Prince Khalid began to purchase high-class yearlings at the world’s top sales and would forever transform the sport.

His first notable win on the flat was delivered by a horse called Known Fact, who won the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket in the UK, and would then gift him his first Classic when he was declared the winner of the 2000 Guineas in 1980 following the disqualification of Nureyev.

Die is cast

The die had been cast and Prince Khalid would not look back as he went on to invest and build a racing empire of global significance.

Juddmonte Farms delivered his first superstar in Dancing Brave, who raced between 1985 and 1986 running 10 times and recording eight wins. He was judged the outstanding European racehorse of 1986 when he won the 2000 Guineas, the Eclipse Stakes, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

To reel off more famous Prince Khalid winners would be next to impossible but it was two outstanding horses that he bred in the late 20th century that would define his lasting legacy — Frankel and Enable.

The former, who was unbeaten in 14 races was trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil, who was Prince Khalid’s long-time trainer, before Gosden inherited his talented string.

Frankel’s would become the most famous horse in the world, taking on all the opposition and dominating them for victory after victory. Upon his retirement his legacy endures as he now enjoys a lucrative second career as a stallion in Newmarket.

Dettori and Enable combined to win the Prix de l'Aec de Triomphe Image Credit: AFP

The recently retired Enable ran 19 times, winning 15 races including 11 at Group One level during a glitter career which spanned 2016 to 2020.

Enable, who was trained by Gosden, won all the major races in Britain and France including the Cheshire Oaks, Epsom Oaks, Irish Oaks, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (twice).

Recalling Prince Khalid, Gosden said: “Prince Khalid Abdullah first enjoyed going racing in the 1950s as a young man in Paris. This sparked his bold and thorough plan to establish a breeding operation in the late 1970s, an illustration of his brilliant mind. In the period of 20 years, he established himself as both a European and American champion breeder. His charming and humorous manner was coupled with a great strategic approach, both in business and in his horse racing and breeding operation.

“He was a very private and patrician gentleman and a very strong family man, for whom it has been a great honour and privilege to train for 38 years. He was humorous but steely, tough. “You better be on your mettle with him. We had an awful lot of fun together and when they got beaten, he took it hard. It was a passion for him, he always referred to it as his one great luxury.”

Frankel wins the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Image Credit: AFP

Dettori, who said he grew up watching Prince Khalid’s horses such as Dancing Brave winning, hailed him as “a true giant of the sport”.

He said: “He was amazing and a true giant of the sport. You could go on naming all the great horses he has owned, but you would have to say Enable, Frankel and Dancing Brave are the three that stand out.

“Enable will always be the apple of my eye and the last time I saw him (Prince Khalid) was when she won her second Arc. He was a real gentleman and he loved his horses. He was very passionate and knowledgeable about them and the results speak for themselves. What he has done for the whole industry is fantastic. I grew up in an era watching horses like Dancing Brave win and you were always very excited that one day you might get to wear those silks — ones that had been associated with such great success.”

The words of Dettori perhaps best sum up a man who will forever be remember in the world of racing through the everlasting legacy that he has left behind. RIP Prince Khalid.

Prince Khalid bin Abdullah Image Credit: Twitter/Juddmonte

Prince Khaled factfile

Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud
Born: 1937 Ta’if, Saudi Arabia
Died: 12 January 2021 (aged 83)
Founded Juddmonte Farms in 1977


Home-bred Group winners 113
Home-bred Group winners 220
Home-bred Classic winners (EU/USA) 28


Eclipse Award for Outstanding Owner (1992, 2003, 2016, 2017)
Eclipse Award for Outstanding Breeder (1995, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2009)
British flat racing Champion Owner (2003, 2010, 2011)
French flat racing Champion Owner (2002, 2003, 2006, 2015, 2017)
Three of Prince Khaled’s horses have achieved the accolade of World’s Best Racehorse (previously the World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings) — Frankel (2011 and 2012), Arrogate (2016 and 2017), and Enable (co-winner with Crystal Ocean and Waldgeist for 2019).

Arrogate ridden by jockey Mike Smith and trained by Bob Baffert wins the Dubai World Cup Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Big race wins

Epsom Derby (3) — Quest for Fame (1990), Commander in Chief (1993), Workforce (2010)
Irish Derby — Commander in Chief (1993)
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (6) — Rainbow Quest (1985), Dancing Brave (1986), Rail Link (2006), Workforce (2010), Enable (2017, 2018)
Breeders’ Cup Classic — Arrogate (2016)
Breeders’ Cup Turf — Enable (2018)
Breeders’ Cup Mile — Expert Eye (2018)
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf — Banks Hill (2001), Intercontinental (2005), Midday (2009)
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint — 2nd Ventura (2008)
Pegasus World Cup — Arrogate (2017)
Dubai World Cup — Arrogate (2017)
Dubai Duty Free — Cityscape (2012)
Dubai Sheema Classic — Polish Summer (2004)

Most successful horses

Known Fact (1979—1980) — Middle Park Stakes and 2000 Guineas
Rainbow Quest (1985) — Coronation Cup and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
Dancing Brave (1986) — 2000 Guineas, Coral Eclipse, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
Quest For Fame (1990—1992) — Epsom Derby
Commander In Chief (1993) — Epsom Derby and Irish Derby
Banks Hill (2001—2002) — Coronation Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf and Prix Jacques Le Marois
Oasis Dream (2002—2003) — Middle Park Stakes, July Cup and Nunthorpe Stakes[36]
Rail Link (2006) — Grand Prix de Paris and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
Midday (2009—2011) — Nassau Stakes (three times), Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, Yorkshire Oaks and Prix Vermeille
Twice Over (2009—2011) — Champion Stakes (twice), Eclipse Stakes and Juddmonte International[49]
Workforce (2010) — Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
Frankel (2010—2012) — Dewhurst Stakes, 2000 Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes (twice), Queen
Elizabeth II Stakes, Lockinge Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes, Juddmonte International and Champion Stakes
Noble Mission (2014) — Irish Tattersalls Gold Cup, Grand Prix De Saint–Cloud and Champion Stakes
Flintshire (2013—2016) — Grand Prix de Paris, Hong Kong Vase, Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes, Woodford
Reserve Manhattan Stakes and Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes
Kingman (2014) — Irish 2000 Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes and Prix Jacques Le Marois
Arrogate (2016—2017) — Travers Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Classic, Pegasus World Cup and Dubai World Cup [6]
Enable (2017-) — Oaks, Irish Oaks, King George & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (twice) and Breeders’ Cup Turf

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