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'Racing was Prince Khalid's hobby but he seemed to live and breathe it'

Criquette Head, Ger Lyons and James Doyle add to the tributes

Criquette Head: "He was an incredible man"
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Two trainers who represent the opposite ends of an astonishing four decades of achievement have added their recollections to the reams of praise paid to Khalid Abdullah, the founder of Juddmonte Farms, who died on Tuesday at the age of 83. 

Criquette Head received her licence in the same year Abdullah saw his colours first carried on a racecourse and counted the prince among her supporters from 1979 right up until her retirement in 2018.

The pair won French and British Classics with American Post and Special Duty, as well as enjoying Group 1 success with African Rose at a re-routed Sprint Cup at Doncaster.

Head said: "He was an incredible man. I started training for him in 1979 and he was always so nice and helpful. He sent me a lot of good horses and I had a lot of fun training for him. He was a big part of the career that I can look back on today.

American Post and Richard Hughes streak to success in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere

"When I decided to retire he was the first owner I called and he wrote me a beautiful letter. We were close."

Head added: "Prince Khalid always surrounded himself with good trainers and the people on the farms so hopefully Juddmonte will go on but it’s a big loss for racing.

"It's important to remember he had a fantastic life and he loved what he did. I was very lucky to cross him and to be able to work for him."

Ger Lyons only joined Abdullah's roster in 2018 but trained the last Juddmonte homebred Classic winner the owner would live to see, the brilliant Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Siskin.

Ger Lyons with Siskin after his impressive success in the Irish 2,000 Guineas

"I was honoured to be a part of his team for a short time," said Lyons. "I never had the pleasure of meeting the man but I was delighted to train him his last Classic winner. My heart goes out to the whole organisation who knew and worked with him and condolences go out to his family."

James Doyle enjoyed a golden spell as retained rider to Abdullah and recalled his surprise and delight when entrusted with what turned out to be a winning ride aboard Cityscape in the 2012 Dubai Duty Free at the age of 24. 

"It just shows the kind of man he was that he had full confidence in trainers and in young people as well," said Doyle. "It meant everything to me at the time.

James Doyle and Roger Charlton are all smiles after the rider's career-changing success on Cityscape

"To be named as number one rider gave me a huge sense of pride and satisfaction. It was an unbelievable feeling and we had an outstanding couple of years with horses like Kingman and Noble Mission. 

"I think some of the decisions he made were very interesting, certainly with Noble Mission. It looked like we'd go for the Irish Champion and it was Prince Khalid that wanted to wait and have a crack at the Champion Stakes at Ascot. It was quite a call and look how it played out.

"It was his hobby but he seemed to live and breathe it and that shines through in his results."


Read more on Khalid Abdullah:

Khalid Abdullah, legendary owner-breeder of Frankel, dies aged 83

'He was colossal in every sense of the word' – Dettori pays tribute to Abdullah

Appreciation: titan whose hobby brought joy to him and countless racing fans around the world (Members' Club)

Frankel, Dancing Brave, Enable and more: the champions Khalid Abdullah made

Frankel: Alastair Down on the emergence of a genuine superstar in the Guineas

The remarkable facts and figures behind Khalid Abdullah's achievements

Khalid Abdullah: the great owner-breeder and his horses captured in pictures

Focus on quality the foundation of Khalid Abdullah's breeding success

Five foundation mares who made Khalid Abdullah one of the world's best breeders

Interview: Khalid Abdullah talks to Brough Scott about his racing life (Members' Club)

Frankel: the inside story behind Prince Khalid Abdullah's unbeaten phenomenon (Members' Club)

The Tuesday Profile: 'You have to see him when he talks about Enable – he literally glows' (Members' Club)

Frankel's debut: 'I had a lot of money on Frankel that night – I just couldn't see him beaten' (Members' Club)

Enable: how decades of patience produced the perfect storm of a racehorse (Members' Club)


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When I decided to retire he was the first owner I called and he wrote me a beautiful letter
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