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From Nashwan to Nayef: ten of the best to run in the colours of Sheikh Hamdan

Nashwan: an outstanding champion and Derby winner owned by Sheikh Hamdan
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Nashwan

An outstanding champion, Nashwan was unbeaten in two starts as a juvenile but stamped his name among Flat racing's all-time greats during a remarkable Classic year, becoming the first to win the 2000 Guineas, Derby, Coral-Eclipse and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in the same season.

Trained throughout his career by one of Sheikh Hamdan's most trusted allies Major Dick Hern and ridden in all his races by the owner's retained rider Willie Carson, Nashwan was described by Hern as the best horse he ever trained.

Before his run in the Guineas, Nashwan famously put in a piece of work on Hern's West Ilsley gallops that left those in attendance sprinting to the bookmakers and his price for the Newmarket Classic soon collapsed. He duly repeated his homework on the track during the spring and summer of 1989.

Salsabil

Trained by John Dunlop, Salsabil was the champion female of her generation and also proved too strong for the colts when landing the Irish Derby in 1990.

A Group 1 winner at two in the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp, Salsabil progressed into a remarkable three-year-old, landing both the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks before connections decided to take the unusual step of targeting the Irish Derby.

Salsabil: winner of the 1990 1,000 Guineas

Salsabil became the first filly for 90 years to win the Curragh Classic, defeating Quest For Fame and Blue Stag, who had finished first and second in the Derby at Epsom.

She added a further victory in the Prix Vermeille in the autumn but finished unplaced when favourite for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe from a poor draw back at Longchamp in October.

Dayjur

Dubbed "the world's fastest horse" Dayjur was king among the European sprinters in 1990, winning the King's Stand Stakes and at the highest level in the Nunthorpe, Sprint Cup and Abbaye.

Bred to be exceptional, Dayjur was a son of Danzig out of the American champion sprinter Gold Beauty and cost Sheikh Hamdan $1.65 million and was trained by Dick Hern.

Prepared for the 2,000 Guineas at three, it was only after Dayjur was beaten in his Classic trial in the Free Handicap that connections reverted to sprinting.

A change in tactics, allowing Dayjur to run from the front, also proved key to unlocking one of the great sprinters of all time, although his career ended on an infamous note when he jumped a shadow just ten yards from the line with the Breeders' Cup Sprint at his mercy.

Erhaab

Racing six times and winning just twice at two, Erhaab looked an unlikely Classic candidate heading into his three-year-old career but stepping up to middle distances brought out the best in him.

Erhaab (left) beat King's Theatre in the 1994 Derby

Second in the Feilden Stakes, Erhaab then beat a strong field in the Dante by three and a half lengths to set up a tilt at the 1994 Derby.
Sent off at 7-2 favourite in a packed field of 25 at Epsom, Erhaab was held up by Willie Carson in what is remembered as one of the roughest runnings of the race and had to negotiate a series of tight passageways between beaten rivals.

Switched to the outside, Erhaab produced an acceleration which Carson described as "like a dart from a blowpipe" in the straight to catch King's Theatre close home and score under his 51-year-old rider.

Sakhee

While he landed the Arc in the blue of Godolphin in 2001, Sakhee's huge success on the track was very much a triumph for Sheikh Hamdan, who bred the outstanding middle-distance champion at his stud in Kentucky.

Sakhee: winner of the 2001 Juddmonte International Stakes

Trained initially by John Dunlop and carrying Sheikh Hamdan's blue and white silks, Sakhee won the Sandown Classic Trial and the Dante to be sent off a leading fancy for the Derby in 2000, finishing a length second to Sinndar with a gap of five lengths back to the third.

At the end of the season he underwent surgery to remove a bone chip in his knee and was switched to the Godolphin banner and the care of Saeed bin Suroor.

In 2001 he landed the Juddmonte International by seven lengths before completely dominating his rivals in to land the Arc by six lengths. He later went down by just a nose to Tiznow in an epic Breeders' Cup Classic.

Invasor

Invasor was bought for $1.4m after winning the 2005 Uruguayan Triple Crown and did not take long to justify his owner's outlay, winning the Breeders' Cup Classic the following year, beating the highly talented duo of Bernardini and Lava Man for US trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Invasor was beaten only once in 12 starts and signed off in style with victory in the 2007 Dubai World Cup, then the world's richest race, at Nad Al Sheba. In doing so, he provided Sheikh Hamdan with his second success after Almutawakel scored in 1999. 

Nayef

Nayef had a tough act to follow as a half-brother to Derby winner Nashwan, out of the top Shadwell mare Height Of Fashion, but did not disappoint, winning four Group 1s for trainer Marcus Tregoning.

After winning his two juvenile starts, Nayef failed to fire at the beginning of his three-year-old season but burst into life in August 2001, winning three Group 3s in a row before landing the Champion Stakes at Newmarket.

In his four-year-old season, Nayef struck in the Dubai Sheema Classic on his first start and ended the year with success in the International at York, and in 2003 he added the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot. 

Taghrooda

Taghrooda may have only made six starts but she made a huge impression in that time, emerging as a major Classic contender when winning the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket by six lengths – a performance the Racing Post described as "breathtaking".

Taghrooda being led in by Sheikh Hamdan after winning the 2014 Epsom Oaks

The daughter of Sea The Stars then led home a Sheikh Hamdan-owned one-two in the 2014 Epsom Oaks before taking on her elders and winning the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

She lost her unbeaten record in the Yorkshire Oaks but produced a valiant display in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, finishing third to Treve from a difficult draw. She was arguably the finest horse Paul Hanagan partnered in his role as retained jockey. 

Muhaarar

Muhaarar was crowned the 2015 Cartier Champion Sprinter after a sensational run of wins. He showed a scarcely believable late turn of foot to land the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot before narrowly denying Tropics in the July Cup at Newmarket.

He then became the first British sprinter since Dayjur in 1990 to land three Group 1s in a season when taking the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville but arguably saved his best for his final start in the British Champions Sprint Stakes.

Hanagan pushed the button in the final furlong and Muhaarar bounded effortlessly clear of his rivals. The Racing Post analysis the following day summed Muhaarar up perfectly: "He's the best sprinter we've seen in a long time."

Battaash

There are few finer sights than a top sprinter in full flight and Battaash proved he was still right up there with the best of them last season, adding three more wins to his big-race haul.

Sheikh Hamdan alongside Battaash after his success in the 2019 Nunthorpe Stakes

Previously a bit of a wild child, Battaash was ruthlessly efficient last season, recording his third top-level success in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot before winning a record fourth King George at Glorious Goodwood. The son of Dark Angel, who runs in golden shoes befitting his superstar status, ended the year with his second win in the Nunthorpe, having broken the track record in 2019.

Battaash already holds a number of records and, with similar targets on the table this season, it is possible he could yet break a few more.


Read more on Hamdan Al Maktoum:

Hamdan Al Maktoum, influential owner and breeder, dies at the age of 75

From Height Of Fashion to Battaash: Tregoning, Johnston and Hills pay tribute

The remarkable facts and figures behind Sheikh Hamdan's achievements

From a small Redcar race to one of the world's great racing and breeding empires (Members' Club)

Sheikh Hamdan: shy, loyal, knowledgeable and a man fond of having a good laugh (Members' Club)

Did Nashwan produce the greatest gallop of all time? Remembering a Hamdan great (Members' Club)

A magnificent racing life: Sheikh Hamdan's champions down the years


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Bred to be exceptional, Dayjur was a son of Danzig out of the American champion sprinter Gold Beauty
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