Sheikh can't shake billion dollar Melbourne Cup curse

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Photo / Stephen Hindley Photosport
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Photo / Stephen Hindley Photosport

The Melbourne Cup is being portrayed as a billion dollar failure for a racing obsessed Sheikh.

Aussie casino founder Lloyd Williams became the first owner to claim five Melbourne Cups when Almandin won in a brilliant finish over Heartbreak City at Flemington Racecourse.

Williams had four runners in the race, one fewer than the Sheik in question who had a record five including favourite Hartnell.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, aged 67, is vice-president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and a horseman himself. In 2012, he won the world horse endurance championships over a 160km course in Suffolk, England, on the horse Madji du Pont.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports he has spent more than one billion dollars over two decades. This included spending more than $500m in 2008 buying "Australia's biggest racing empire" from the Ingham family. The Sheikh has another big cup link: he set up Emirates Airlines - major sponsors of the Melbourne Cup - in the mid 1980s.

The Sheikh, who runs the massive Godolphin racing outfit, began his Melbourne Cup quest in 1998. His 2016 squad of cup horses were spread over three trainers and three continents.

Charlie Appleby from the England operation, told the Brisbane Courier Mail: "As His Highness will always say, if you don't win it this year, the race will be on again next year. Godolphin will have more than five Cup runners next year. I might have five Cup runners myself next year."

Appleby trains Qewy, which finished fourth, and Oceanographer. Godolphin has three seconds in the Melbourne Cup - Central Park (1999), Give The Slip (2001) and Crime Scene (2009).

- NZ Herald

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