Khalid Abdullah (left) with Henry Cecil, Tom Queally and FrankelPICTURE: Getty Images
Abdullah empire set to be scaled down
THE huge breeding and racing empire that is Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms is set to be reduced in size this year, although the crown jewel that is the Saudi prince's champion Frankel is not thought to be up for sale.
The extent of the owner-breeder's cutbacks will not be known for months, but Juddmonte chief executive Douglas Erskine-Crum confirmed on Saturday: "His Highness is going to make some disposals in the course of the year.
"It is very early days and it is a process that will probably take many months, and the name Frankel has not been mentioned here."
That does not mean there will not be top racing and paddocks performers to attract buyers who could include the likes of Qatari Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, with Abdullah having enjoyed some of his most successful seasons at the top level recently.
These have yielded multiple owner and breeder titles in Britain. There has been gossip in racing circles this year that the Juddmonte empire was about to be broken up and even sold in its entirety.
However, Erskine-Crum played down suggestions of a huge dispersal or sale, saying: "There is a review of the whole operation ongoing but His Highness's interest in racing is undiminished - that is very important - and I am sure he will still be at the top meetings this year."
The prize jewel in the Juddmonte crown is Frankel. Unbeaten in 14 starts and ranked the best horse ever at this year's World Thoroughbred Rankings, the son of Galileo was valued at £100 million when retiring to stud last year and stands at a fee of £125,000 for each nomination.
Erskine-Crum said the disposals would amount to more than the traditional end-of-season clearouts, adding: "There are a lot of other wonderful horses owned by His Highness, who has more than 900 horses."
Along with Frankel, Juddmonte's stable of horses includes prominent stallions Oasis Dream and Dansili plus broodmares including Frankel's dam Kind.
Juddmonte has nine studs spread between Britain, Ireland and the US, with horses in training in all three countries along with France.
Since becoming involved in racing in the late 1970s, Abdullah has owned a vast number of high-quality runners including Warning, Known Fact, Zafonic, Dancing Brave, Rainbow Quest, Workforce, Empire Maker and Midday.
Having turned to breeding early in his time as an owner, Abdullah has earned numerous awards, including four Eclipse Awards for outstanding breeder.
His most recent winners include Frankel's brother Noble Mission at Goodwood and their half-sister Joyeuse, an impressive debut winner at Lingfield last month who remains on course to carry the famous green, pink and white silks in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot this month.