Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum has died, at the age of 75.
Sheikh Hamdan, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, was a hugely prominent owner of a string of Classic and Royal Ascot winners for more than 30 years.
His blue-and-white colours, under the livery of his Shadwell Racing banner, are among the most famous throughout the racing world.
On Wednesday morning Sheikh Hamdan’s younger brother Sheikh Mohammed posted on Twitter: “We belong to God and to Him we shall return … May God have mercy on you, my brother, my support and my companion.”
Among the best of Sheikh Hamdan’s many Group One winners, he was most widely associated with 1989 Derby and 2000 Guineas winner Nashwan, the brilliant 1990 dual Classic-winning filly Salsabil and outstanding sprinters of different generations in Dayjur and Battaash.
Others to have carried his silks included Oaks and King George heroine Taghrooda, another Derby victor in Erhaab and two winners of the Melbourne Cup in the shape of At Talaq and Jeune, who triumphed at Flemington in 1986 and 1994 respectively.
Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation was among the first to pay tribute.
A tweet on the official account read: “Everyone at Godolphin is deeply saddened to hear of the death of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum. A great loss to Dubai and our sport. He was one of the greatest owner breeders of modern times. Our deepest condolences to His Family and all @ShadwellStud.”
Richard Hills was his retained rider from 1997 until his retirement in 2012 and continued to work for him under the Shadwell banner as assistant racing manager.
“It’s really sad. We’re all devastated. From 17 years old, throughout my whole career to now,” he said.
“He was such a great man, he was like a father to me.
“We had some great times. I was in a lucky position. He was my friend, and I was riding his horses, which was his passion. It was joy all the way through.
“Every one of the Classic winners I rode him meant everything to me – four Guineas, an Oaks and a Leger. All of them were special.
“Nayef was great because he was out of Height Of Fashion. He was tough and he won six Group Ones. There was Almutawakel who won the Dubai World Cup.
“I rode 550 winners in Dubai. I don’t think I took a week off for 15 years.
“It was a joy to get up in the morning and ride those horses.”