Sheikh Joaan launches UK horse operation

Sheikh Joaan launches UK horse operationSheikh Joaan Bin Hamed Al Thani’s desire to preside over the “best racing operation in the world” led to his Al Shaqab Racing launching a UK operation on Friday.

Leading British turf figure Harry Herbert, the racing manager of the successful Highclere syndicate, has been appointed as a full-time racing adviser to the Qatari royal’s new outfit.

Sheikh Joaan’s horses have raced at the highest level internationally in 2013, with Treve’s victory in France’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Europe’s premier all-age flat race, last month the most high-profile of four elite Group One wins.

“Our goals and objectives are to be the best racing operation in the world,” Sheikh Joann’s media manager, Sherida al Kaabi, told a press conference at London’s Dorchester hotel on Friday.

“We want the best horses, the best trainers and the best people and the appointment of Harry is to help secure our future.”

Al Shaqab Racing has around 110 horses in training split between England and France.

But their ambitions extend beyond Europe, with the organisation set to have a handful of horses next season in the United States with leading trainer Todd Pletcher.

It has been a meteoric rise within ‘the sport of kings’ for Sheikh Joaan.

The 28-year-old had not seen a thoroughbred racehorse win in his grey and maroon silks until August last year.

But as well as Treve, this season saw Toronado triumph at Group One level with victory in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, southern England, in July.

Olympic Glory, who handed Sheikh Joann his first win at the highest level last year in Paris, then triumphed in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, south-west of London, last month.

Sheikh Joaan has signed arguably the world’s most famous jockey in British-based Frankie Dettori as his retained rider.

He has also tried to secure the future of his operation by spending a world record five million guineas (STG5.05 million, $A9.11 million) at the Tattersalls yearling sales in Newmarket last month.

Al Shaqab is named after a breeding operation in Qatar established in 1992 by Sheikh Joaan’s father, Hamad, the former Emir.

The formation of Al Shaqab racing follows the investment in British racing by Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, Sheikh Joaan’s cousin, which falls under the umbrella of the Qipco British Champions Series.

It is also part of a growing Qatari presence in major sports worldwide that saw the non-profit Qatar Foundation sign a world-record E150 million ($A225 million) shirt sponsorship deal with Spanish football giants Barcelona in 2010.

Last month Qatar Tourism Authority signed a sponsorship deal worth up to 200 million euros a year with Paris St Germain, the French Ligue 1 football club acquired by Qatar Sports Investment in May 2011, where global soccer star David Beckham ended his playing career.