Wednesday 13 January 21: It was while watching the racing channel yesterday afternoon the following news burst through the airwaves and took over from the present days racing and no doubt everyone involved in the thoughts of everyone who loved this sport. Douglas Erskine Crum, CEO Juddmonte, said in a statement: “The whole of Juddmonte feels a huge sense of loss. Prince Khalid will always be remembered as a quiet, dignified, benevolent family man, whose horses spoke for him. He leaves a legacy that will stand the test of time.
His contribution to the development of the thoroughbred will have long-lasting effects. Abdullah enjoyed his first winner more than 40 years ago, before going on to huge success, winning each of the five British Classics on multiple occasions, including three Derby successes with Quest For Fame (1990), Commander In Chief (1993) and Workforce (2010).He also won the Arc six times in total, and was crowned champion owner in Britain three times.”The Saudi prince has owned and bred some of the greatest equine names the sport has ever seen with his famous green, pink and white silks carried by the likes of Frankel, Dancing Brave and dual Prix de Arc de Triomphe heroine Enable. Abdulla’s colours were carried to victory by more than 500 Stakes winners, of which he bred over 440 % including 118 Group or Grade One winners, of which he bred 102.
The most touching moment was when Sky presenter introduced the widow of his most majestic trainer Sir Henry Cecil which almost had time standing still, when she spoke of the man her husband forever called the “Prince” and of the time when he presented Henry with his ‘final hurrah’ – the incredible Frankel.My everlasting memory of Pat Eddery – my favourite jockey – winning the Prix de Arc de Triomphe aboard Dancing Brave was on a day I was actually owning a night club and pub in the Potteries. I say that because I was watching the Arc from there as we prepared as Geoff Salmons would say to “go over hills” to Sheffield as I was playing in Tony Currie’s Testimonial – plus I had quite a decent wager on both horse and jockey now that Pat had replaced Starkey – it might as well been Ringo riding him at Epsom!
The problem or poor excuse or explanation from the jockey at Epsom, as we all witnessed Greville Starkey ride Dancing Brave in the Epsom Derby, that the whispers were that this horse might not get the notorious mile and-a-half-trip. I never had a problem for we used to run that final three furlongs from Tattenham Corner on a Monday morning when manager Dave Sexton smelt the fumes of alcohol from the weekend.At Longchamp it all happens on the bend and on this day all I can remember was thinking Pat had fallen off Dancing Brave because as they took to the bend he disappeared off screen. When the cameraman levelled as they straightened up there was Pat sitting pretty and after his electrifying burst in that final furlong at Epsom the money was safe.
These were the memories left by the horses bred by Khalid Abdullah.I backed Wolves in a losing bet against Everton and never watched the final minutes as I got on my bicycle and began writing about the man who I wished I had met, if only for the incredible tributes flooding in all day from the USA to John Gosden and last but far from least Mrs. Lady Jane Cecil.Today’s Sporting Life: Even by the spectacular standards of winning jockey Lester Piggott, no one could have predicted just how significant the success of a two-year-old named Charming Native at a Monday evening fixture at Windsor in May 1979 would prove to be.Margaret Thatcher had just become Britain’s first female prime minister, Art Garfunkel was continuing to dominate the charts with his ballad Bright Eyes and the Jeremy Tree-trained Charming Native, given a characteristically power-packed ride through the closing stages by Piggott, acted as launchpad to the most consistently efficient and influential international horse racing and thoroughbred-breeding operation of the modern era.From Windsor’s Blue Charm Stakes onwards, jockeys wearing Prince Khalid Abdullah’s instantly-recognizable silks – green body, with a pink sash and white sleeves, chosen apparently because they matched his curtains – steered their mounts to victory in practically every major flat racing prize there is.Best known of his runners to a more contemporary audience are the unbeaten Frankel, named after one of Abdullah’s principal trainers, Bobby Frankel who succumbed to cancer in 2009, and the Frankie Dettori-ridden, John Gosden-trained filly Enable, provider of two of six Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe trophies.But the full list is nearly as long as the Rowley Mile racecourse itself, also containing great names like Rainbow Quest, Dancing Brave, Danehill, Zafonic – every one of them, like Frankel and Enable, ‘horses of a lifetime’, and, extraordinarily, all ridden by jockeys wearing the same green, pink and white.There, I can only imagine, were giants in racing circles cracking open bottles yesterday in memory of the man, I only wish I was one of them, but respect is something you cannot buy. I opened up this writing by saying nobody in football can boast such heroics, because, yes they have been giants and influential giants along the way but this gentleman not only funded everything great about his achievements, but as Roger Charlton said, “So many trainers owe so much to being involved with this man,” and that says it all, as he was admittedly one of those fortunate enough to have that last telling word.
There have been people who have invested heavily in football but it has not been for the love of the sport, in fact, quite the opposite as I actually was signed at Chelsea in the early 80s by owner/chairman Ken Bates and the only love he had for football was the greenback.Back to football after watching Wolves get beaten by a very average looking Everton team I have come to the conclusion that the Lockdown Premiership has become like a five furlong race. These sprint races are very well known for the same eight horses lining up and the same horse hardly ever wins twice – in fact, as Don and have said all along it’s becoming like a Lottery.