Sheikh Mohammed's bitter family dispute revealed in High Court ruling
Racing's most prominent owner Sheikh Mohammed was on Thursday at the centre of a high court judgement that found the Godolphin chief and ruler of Dubai had orchestrated the abductions of two of his children and subjected his former wife Princess Haya to a campaign of “intimidation”.
Britain’s High Court on Thursday published a Fact Finding Judgement in response to allegations made against Sheikh Mohammed by Princess Haya, who fled Dubai last year along with her two children and applied for them to be made wards of court.
The Guardian speculated the findings risked "destabilising diplomatic relations" with the United Arab Emirates.
In a statement issued after the judgements were published, Sheikh Mohammed said: "As a head of government, I was not able to participate in the court's fact-finding process. This has resulted in the release of a 'fact-finding' judgement which inevitably only tells one side of the story.
"I ask that the media respect the privacy of our children and do not intrude into their lives in the UK."
The ruling, written by Sir Andrew McFarlane, said Sheikha Shamsa, daughter of Sheikh Mohammed, left the family’s UK estate in Surrey in 2000 but was later recaptured in Cambridgeshire and forcibly returned to Dubai where she remains.
They said another of Sheikh Mohammed’s daughters, Sheikha Latifa, made two unsuccessful attempts to flee her father’s family in 2002 and 2018, and that she remains under house arrest after being recaptured at sea off the Indian coast.
The judge found that Sheikh Mohammed "continues to maintain a regime whereby both these two young women are deprived of their liberty".
Princess Haya said she became suspicious of the whereabouts of the two princesses early last year and voiced her concerns. At this time, she was also conducting an adulterous affair with her British bodyguard. Princess Haya fled to Britain, taking her two children, last April.
The split between Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohammed has prompted speculation over the future of her racing operation, although she had 69 runners last year and has had four so far in 2020. Her green silks were most famously carried to victory in the Derby by New Approach in 2008.
Sheikh Mohammed’s involvement in racing began in June 1977 when he enjoyed a first winner as an owner with Hatta at Brighton and he purchased Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket four years later.
Since then, Sheikh Mohammed has become the world's leading racehorse owner. In 2017, Barney Roy was Godolphin’s 250th top-level winner in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, while they landed the Derby and Melbourne Cup the following year with Masar and Cross Counter.
Godolphin’s headquarters are in Dubai with horses in training in Australia, France, Ireland, Japan, the UK and the US. The BHA declined to comment on the published series of judgements on Thursday.