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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Private prince was first Arab owner to win British Classic

Nicholas Godfrey with some facts about the leading owner-breeder

Prince Khalid Abdullah: one of the most successful owner-breeders in racing history
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1 Prince Khalid Abdullah is a member of the House of Saud, the royal ruling family of Saudi Arabia. The son of Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman, younger half-brother of the state's founder King Abdulaziz (Ibn Saud to westerners), he was born in Ta'if in 1937. He is a cousin of the present ruler, King Salman. Prince Khalid's first wife Al Jawhara bin Abdulaziz is the founder's daughter; the late Fahd Salman, who owned 1991 Derby winner Generous, was his son-in-law. His full name is Khalid bin Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Saud bin Muhammad bin Muqrin Al Saud.

2 Before embarking on a hugely successful business career, Prince Khalid studied history in Riyadh and the United States and was also employed in the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His main business vehicle is Marawid Holding, a private investment company with extensive dealings in a vast range of commercial activities, including financial services, telecommunications, satellite TV and radio networks, construction, catering and restaurants. In 2015 Bloomberg estimated his net worth as at least $1 billion; another survey last year suggested $1.8bn, although such figures cannot be verified.

3 Abdullah is renowned for being a courteous, unassuming individual, preferring to be identified as Mr K Abdullah on racecards, but also guarded when it comes to revealing much about himself. The late Humphrey Cottrill, the former trainer who became Abdullah's first racing adviser, once said: "He was always perfectly charming but, even after some time in his company, I knew absolutely nothing about him as a person."

4 In a rare interview with the Racing Post's David Ashforth in May 2002, Abdullah revealed that his famous racing colours matched his curtains. "I like to see my colours from a distance and I have a problem with my eyes," he said. "When I decided to buy horses, Lord Weinstock visited me and said, 'You don't need to find colours, these are your colours', and he pointed to the curtains – the green, and white, and pink. He chose the colours for me."

5 Abdullah's life as a racehorse owner did not begin in auspicious fashion when the first batch of four yearlings bought by Cottrill on his behalf at Newmarket in 1977 proved to be duds as two-year-olds. Sent to his first trainer Jeremy Tree, three ran and none won in their juvenile season. In 1978 Abdullah went to a record 264,000gns to purchase the highest-priced yearling at Tattersalls Houghton Sale; named Sand Hawk, he eventually won only one small race.

6 Abdullah's first winner was Charming Native (trained by Jeremy Tree) at Windsor on May 14 1979, a month before Abeer became his first Royal Ascot winner (also first Group winner) in the Queen Mary. Known Fact, a son of In Reality bought at Keeneland in 1978, became his first Group 1 winner in the 1979 Middle Park; when the same colt claimed the 2,000 Guineas the following season after the disqualification of Nureyev, he became the first Classic winner to represent an Arab owner.

7 Abdullah is on record as favouring the breeding side of things above racing but rumours of a cutback – owing to his age and lack of enthusiasm from his sons – have been rife. A recent 'consolidation' cut his worldwide broodmare band to about 200; he also sold two stud farms comprising 1,500 acres, including the original base of Abdullah's Juddmonte bloodstock operation in Wargrave, Berkshire.

8 Although Guineas winners Known Fact and Dancing Brave were not homebreds, Wince's victory in the 1999 1,000 Guineas for Henry Cecil completed a nap hand of Classics for Juddmonte, which is based at Banstead Manor Stud near Newmarket. That Classic-winning list features three Derby winners – Quest For Fame (1990), Commander In Chief (1993) and Workforce (2010) – plus Abdullah's masterpiece Frankel, who won the 2,000 Guineas in 2011; Juddmonte also bred Brian Boru, the Coolmore-owned Leger winner in 2003. Homebreds have also won all five French Classics carrying the Abdullah silks.

9 The late Bobby Frankel, who provided the inspiration for the naming of the legendary Sir Henry Cecil-trained performer, landed a host of major US races for Abdullah, often via former European-trained horses switched across the Atlantic in the later stages of their racing career, among them Epsom hero Quest For Fame, Exbourne, Beat Hollow and Banks Hill.

10 Following Bobby Frankel's death, Cigar's trainer Bill Mott became Abdullah's US man, since when Bob Baffert – trainer of world champion Arrogate, who became the all-time leading money earner with his stunning Dubai World Cup triumph – and reigning US champion Chad Brown have also joined the team. Brown trained Flintshire in 2016 and now has Time Test, who was touched off earlier this month at Belmont on his five-year-old debut.


He was always perfectly charming but, even after some time in his company, I knew absolutely nothing about him as a person
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