Racing World Reacts to Sheikh Maktoum's Death
by Mark Popham
Date Posted: 1/4/2006 12:42:15 PM
Last Updated: 1/5/2006 1:02:59 PM

The late Sheikh Maktoum.
Photo: Associated Press
Participants in U.S. and European racing, including some who trained for and worked closely with the late Sheikh Maktoum, have expressed surprise and sorrow over the prominent horse owner and breeder's death Wednesday of an apparent heart attack at age 62.

Simon Crisford, racing manager for the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing stable:
"Sheikh Maktoum's death is a huge loss to Dubai but also to the world of horseracing. He was at the very center of everything Godolphin has achieved. It was Sheikh Maktoum who decided that horses should be trained in Dubai to run in the top international races. Along with Sheikh Mohammed, he set up Godolphin. He was the one who chose the blue silks our horses carry, and he was involved in all key decisions affecting the stable. Sheikh Maktoum owned a number of our champions including Balanchine, Cape Verdi, Fantastic Light and Shamardal as well as a host of other horses, and he was always hugely supportive. He was also a very successful owner in his own right under the Gainsborough banner. Our thoughts are with the Maktoum family at this very sad time."

Joe Mercer, champion jockey who trained for Sheikh Maktoum for the last 19 years:
"The whole family has done a remarkable job for English racing. He had over 200 horses in training and a lot of yearlings still to come in. He really enjoyed his racing. He knew what was going on and was a very good man to work for. He was a good loser and a good winner."

Mark Johnston, Yorkshire-based trainer for Sheikh Maktoum:
"Obviously, it's a great shock. It's terrible and unbelievable and I had no inkling anything was wrong with him. He did a huge amount for racing, not just in Dubai but worldwide. Along with Sheikh Mohammed, he was instrumental in changing the whole shape of my (training) yard and helping move me to a different level. There have been no yearlings allocated yet this year, but most years I have had about 30 of his horses with me. He was my biggest owner."

Ed Dunlop, trainer based at Sheikh Maktoum's Gainsborough Stables in Newmarket:
"It's very sad news, primarily for Sheikh Maktoum's family and all of Dubai. He was a wonderful man to work for and most importantly, he was the one who gave me a chance to train. There are so many fond memories. He was a big racehorse owner and a very successful one with lots of good horses. At this stage we don't know what will happen in the future but it's immaterial at the moment because our thoughts go to his family. He will be sorely missed."

John Magnier, Coolmore Stud partner:
"It was with great regret that I learned of Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum's untimely death today. He is a great loss, not only to his family and nation, but also to world racing. A great lover of the Thoroughbred racehorse, he enjoyed much success over the years both as an owner and breeder under the Gainsborough Stud banner and also through his involvement in the hugely successful Godolphin operation. He made a lasting and important contribution to racing, not least in Ireland and it is the poorer for his passing."

Walter Swinburn, a top jockey turned trainer:
"It came as a great shock learning of his death earlier this morning and the memories have kept flooding by me all day. I was so lucky and fortunate to ride such great horses and he was such a gentleman and a pleasure to ride for. Shareef Dancer is one of his horses that is often overlooked. He won the Irish Derby -- beating the English and French Derby winners - and set the ball rolling for them in 1983. I enjoyed a good relationship with him and me and my family were welcomed by him into Dubai every year, where we were looked after like you wouldn't believe. It was just an honor to have met the man and ridden some good horses for him over the years."

D.G. Van Clief Jr., National Thoroughbred Racing Association commissioner and president of Breeders' Cup Ltd.:
"We would concur with others around the world that a visionary leader has been lost. The progressive approach that the Maktoums have taken in the development of their country is a very positive model. And from a standpoint of the racing industry, there has been no single family in recent years more influential in the conduct of the racing and breeding than the Maktoum family."

Keeneland president Nick Nicholson:
"Sheikh Maktoum leaves a tremendous legacy as a visionary leader in the worldwide Thoroughbred industry. He strived for only the best for his horses and in his racing and breeding operations, and the international Thoroughbred community has been the beneficiary of those high standards. He was a great friend to Keeneland, and to all of Central Kentucky. His leadership improved the quality of the Thoroughbred breed, and the quality of life for his employees and the people of Dubai. We were very happy that he was able to attend the recent Keeneland September yearling sale after having been away for many years. We will miss him very much."

Julian Richmond-Watson, the senior steward of the British Jockey Club, in which Sheikh Maktoum has been an honorary member since 1985:
"Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum made a hugely significant contribution to the sport of horseracing and British thoroughbred racing and breeding in particular. Along with other members of his family, he was a great sportsman who cared deeply about his horses. The majority of his racing interests were based in this country and I believe he shared with the British racing public a love of horses, of racing and of the history and heritage the sport has in this country."

Martin Broughton, chairman of the British Horseracing Board:
"British Racing has lost a tremendous patron and pioneering figure in Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum. His sad death will be felt throughout the sport, but his legacy is sure to live on."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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