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Sunday, 09 December, 2018

Harry Herbert to split with Al Shaqab as Sheikh Joaan focuses on France

Sheikh Joaan, Al Shaqab general manager Khalifa al Attiya and Harry Herbert, pictured at the Al Shaqab farm in Doha last year
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Harry Herbert, whose commitment to Al Shaqab resulted in him personally paying some of those left badly hurt by its recent financial mess, is leaving the organisation as it continues to concentrate on France.

Herbert confirmed to the Racing Post he was parting from the organisation on excellent terms, having decided he must now concentrate more time on his own Highclere Thoroughbred Racing business.

Al Shaqab currently has only 12 two-year-olds based in British yards following Sheikh Joaan's decision to scale back the organisation's footprint. Al Shaqab this season has around 60 horses in training in Britain, down from 90 in 2017.

It was recently announced Frankie Dettori has agreed another one-year deal as Al Shaqab's retained rider on its British-trained horses. However, it is believed the jockey accepted a significant cut to his six-figure salary due to the reduced number of horses involved.

Herbert, whose involvement with Al Shaqab will cease at the end of April, said: "I am incredibly proud of everything Al Shaqab Racing has achieved since I became racing adviser to Sheikh Joaan Al Thani in December 2013.

Galileo Gold won the 2,000 Guineas during Harry Herbert's time at Al Shaqab
"There have been some wonderful moments on the racecourse, from the Royal Ascot treble in 2014 to five winners at the Qatar Goodwood festival in 2015. The greatest highlight of all was providing Sheikh Joaan with his first Classic winner when Galileo Gold won the Qipco 2,000 Guineas in 2016.

"I have, however, decided that with the exciting and continual growth of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, particularly in Australia and with our National Hunt horses, my attention needs to be focused on the future growth plans I have for my own business."

Herbert was privately spoken of in glowing terms by those trainers and service providers left with major debts after Al Shaqab found itself owing more than £1 million in unpaid bills stretching back to last spring.

It is now believed that backlog – blamed by general manager Khalifa Al Attiya on "a financial review" – has been sorted out, although at its height Herbert intervened to assist those left in the most precarious positions.

Al Attiya said on Monday: "I would like to thank Harry for everything he and his team have done for Al Shaqab Racing since he became racing adviser. We have enjoyed some great success over the years and I wish him the very best of luck for the future."

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My attention needs to be focused on the future growth plans I have for my own business
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