Truly a Prince among men
Gary McKenzie pays tribute to Prince Khalid Abdullah, a great man of the turf and a man of great loyalty
The thoroughbred world lost one of its biggest and most influential supporters this week when the legendary owner-breeder Prince Khalid Abdullah died at the age of 83. His green, white, and pink silks are known the world over.
He owned horses that won three Derbys, two Oaks, four 2000, and two 1000 Guineas, and two St Legers. And that is just the British classics.
He won six Arcs, which makes him joint top owner in terms of Europe’s premier middle distance race. He was also successful at Breeders Cup meetings.
But it was not just his success as an owner that marked him out. He was, by all accounts, a proper gentleman. And loyal.
When Sir Henry Cecil was going through a rough patch, he was still being sent horses of the highest quality by Khalid Abdullah. Frankel, named after Bobby Frankel, another of the Prince’s trainers, surely added a few years to the life of Sir Henry who had been diagnosed with cancer.
Frankel, the legendary American trainer, died a few months before his namesake made his racecourse debut.
If I listed all of his top horses I would be here all day, but some of his best would have to be at least mentioned in any debate involving the greatest horses of all time.
Dancing Brave, Enable, and Frankel will always be remembered fondly by turfistes, and the likes of Kingman and Zafonic were brilliant.
If you type in 1993 2000 Guineas on youtube you will see for yourself how brilliant Zafonic was on that particular day.
“Zafonic is absolutely pulling double” were the words from Graham Goode’s commentary. He is still my favourite Guineas winner. Breathtaking.
And Kingman was jet-propelled when he went past his rivals in the St James’s Palace Stakes. Both Zafonic and Kingman were with us for a relatively short time.
But Prince Khalid liked to see his horses race. Frankel could have been sent to stud at three but was given another season. So we got to see his unbelievable demolition job in the Queen Anne as well as his step up to ten furlongs. That Juddmonte International run still gives me goosebumps.
Enable was a champion at three yet still was allowed to enchant us for another three seasons.
But as in anything we have our favourites and, although the Juddmonte horses I loved most were high class, they are not the ones who immediately spring to mind when thinking of horses from that operation.
Midday kept getting beaten by Sariska, and only finished ahead of that filly when she refused to race. Twice. But Midday did win three Nassau Stakes, beating the likes of Snow Fairy.
She ran to 120 or higher eight times which highlights her consistency. And she was a very unlucky loser in the Breeders Cup Filly & Mares when she didn’t get a clear run until late (also getting bumped). She was just a lovely horse.
Bated Breath was also wonderfully consistent and possibly unlucky. Four times he finished runner up in Group One sprints (twice behind champion Dream Ahead) by an aggregate of less than two lengths.
He also won the Temple Stakes which is a very good Group Two. He would usually run his race and could hold his own with the very best.
Finally we have Flintshire. He was good enough to win four Group 1s, including a Hong Kong Vase, but was runner up nine times at the top level. Second in two Arcs, behind Golden Horn and Treve, and also in the Breeders Cup where he was just behind one of the toughest around, Highland Reel. Flintshire earned over six million pounds for connections.
His first crop began their careers last season and he has had a few winners, including the Juddmonte bred, Ger Lyons trained, Talacre. That filly’s dam is Bird Flown who gave birth to Siskin a few years ago. I do so hope that Flintshire’s ability has been passed down.