Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, clearly liked what he saw at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday and has purchased a significant stake in Animal Kingdom, the Dubai World Cup winner.
Animal Kingdom became the first horse trained in America to win the World Cup on Tapeta last week and the performance has resulted in Sheikh Mohammed purchasing a 29 per cent interest in the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner.
His Darley breeding operation purchased 14 shares in the giant chestnut colt, with John Messara, the owner of the Australia-based Arrowfield stud, in control with 24 shares.
Team Valor International, which bred Animal Kingdom, and in whose colours the horse ran in last week, retains 10 shares. “Animal Kingdom is outstanding,” said Olly Tait, Darley chief operating officer.
“Not only is he immensely talented, he has shown a rare ability to excel on turf, synthetic and dirt and win at a range of distances up to the mile and a quarter of the Kentucky Derby and the Dubai World Cup. “His win at Meydan was all class.”
Animal Kingdom will shuttle as a sire between hemispheres and will stand both at Arrowfield and at Darley’s Jonabell Farm Stud in Lexington, Kentucky.
Team Valor breed very few horses as they are primarily an international racing syndicate, but their remaining interest in Animal Kingdom will allow them to use him as a foundation sire to generate future success.
It is clear how much Animal Kingdom’s victory meant to Barry Irwin, the organisation’s president, and on Saturday the former racing journalist broke out into tears after Animal Kingdom had prevailed by two lengths from the fast-finishing Red Cadeaux.
He was stunned yesterday at Sheikh Mohammed stepping in.
“I am just overwhelmed,” Irwin said. “I think it’s fantastic, and in Darley, we’ve got as good a partner as you can have. You could look and see how he was beaming at the horse in the winner’s circle.
“Even though he didn’t win the race with one of his own horses, he was thrilled to see how this horse performed in the race. This horse is just now getting his accolades. This deal is also good for us because now we can breed our own horses here in Kentucky.”
Animal Kingdom has not been back to the scene of his greatest triumph since. He was given a few days off by Alice Clapham, trainer Graham Motion’s travelling head groom, and has been trotting and walking around the horse path in the World Cup quarantine barn at Meydan.
The horse leaves Dubai on Saturday and will be flown by Janah, Sheikh Mohammed’s transport company, to England, where he is scheduled to be transferred to Lambourn.
There, it will be decided whether he contests either the Queen Anne Stakes over a mile at Royal Ascot on June 18 or the Prince of Wales’s Stakes over two furlongs further a day later.
Side Glance, who was fourth to Animal Kingdom in the World Cup, could well renew a rivalry with Animal Kingdom at Ascot, but will not be seen on a racecourse until then.
Side Glance arrived back in England on Tuesday after picking up US$500,000 (Dh1.8 million) in Dubai and is set to run in the Queen Anne, in which he was third to Frankel last season.
“He seems none the worse for his trip,” trainer Andrew Balding said.
“He won half a million dollars, which was pretty much doubling his previous career earnings, so it was a well-worth exercise. We were thrilled with his effort.”
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