Al Shaqab Expansion Includes New Racing Advisor, Plans for U.S. String

by | 11.29.2013 | 8:40am
Sheikh Joaan al Thani campaigns his horses under the Al Shaqab Racing banner.

Qatari Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani has appointed Harry Herbert, founder of the successful British racing syndicate Highclere, as racing advisor of his high-powered global string of Thoroughbreds that could have a growing presence in the United States.

The appointment of Herbert, who will manage the Al Shaqab Racing operation from his Berkshire, England, offices, was announced Friday in a statement and subsequent press conference, at which it was revealed several horses will be placed with leading American trainer Todd Pletcher in 2014.

The relatively new stable of the Qatari sheikh already can claim major success with victories by Arc de Triomphe winner Treve at Longchamp in France and Olympic Glory in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in England.

“We are delighted that Harry has joined our team as Racing Advisor to Al Shaqab Racing with immediate effect and we are very much looking forward to working with him,” the statement read. “Harry is one of the most high profile figures in European racing and has enjoyed great success with his syndicate ownership company, Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, which we hope and know will continue. His years of experience will help us to fulfill our aspirations for Al Shaqab Racing internationally and to achieve our goals and objectives in the sport.

“We have a long term vision in terms of our breeding program and we purchase our thoroughbreds very carefully in order to try to achieve our desire to be one of the leading forces in thoroughbred racing.

“We take advice from many experienced people, both Qataris & non Qataris, which we are proud of. There has been much speculation about purchase prices that is simply not true which is frustrating.”

Sheikh Joaan paid a record $8.3 million for a yearling filly by Galileo earlier this year at Tattersalls in England and more recently purchased two-time Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner Mizdirection at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky's November Sale for $2.7 million. He is a son of the former Emir of Qatar, the world's wealthiest country based on per capita gross domestic product. It has massive reserves of oil and natural gas.


  • Knowitall

    What is the speculation about purchase prices? That like many wealthy players before him, he is having prices run up on him by sellers or dual agency?

    • G. Rarick

      We don’t know how much he paid for Treve, but the speculation is that, like Sheik Mo before him, Sheik Al Thani has more money than sense. Hence his comment about how he is listening to experienced people, even if they are not Qatari. People in Europe are saying that they’ll pay ridiculous prices for horses worth half as much. Since a horse is really worth what anybody will pay for it on a given day, you can’t really fault them, I suppose. Like with Sheik Mo, money rolls downhill. Horses that don’t make the cut for these guys might be perfectly useful racehorses for the rest of us at lower levels, as long as they don’t wreck them first – and on that note, the Qataris seem a little more wise than Sheik Mo, in that they’re putting horses with plenty of experienced trainers instead of trying to consolidate under one or two hand-picked trainers.

  • steve k

    The rich get richer. Soon Pletcher will be racing only against himself. But it is good that Al Thani has dumped a fortune in bloodstock in recent sales. Perhaps Treve will be headed to Pletcher. Ha ha.

    • Don Reed

      “Soon Pletcher will be racing only against himself.”

      At which time, like an amoeba multiplying within itself, The Pletcher Divisions (like
      the boy regiments of Peter The Great) will form competitive groups that war amongst
      themselves, for the greater good of The Stable.

      PTG was never allowed to lose in such mock battles.

      Neither will Todd The Great (“to be honest with you…”), whose glory will be frontloaded in his next seven-horse entry in yet another Kentucky Derby.

    • Birdy2

      Almost true already (TP racing against himself). Looking on the bright side, his horses don’t tend to drop dead from massive internal hemorrhages brought on by combinations of nandrolone, methocarbamol, clenbuterol, diclofenac and other NSAIDs dished out while training as if combinations of these drugs had no predictable side effects.

  • Beach

    I wonder if Mizdirection will be bred, or will continue to race.

    • Rob Yetman

      Will be bred to Al Kazeem in 2014.

  • fb0252

    Welcome! Any that race, take care of their horses, and contribute to our sport!

    • Mimi Hunter

      And that is the bottom line.

  • Don Reed

    We have heard this all before.

  • zchairman

    I thought BIG foreign buyers would not buy U.S. horses because of Lasix. Obviously another myth perpetrated by the BC and JC.

    • G. Rarick

      Horses for courses. He’s buying U.S. horses to run in the U.S.

  • Barry Irwin

    Racing could use about 10 more just like this fellow. He is smart, he is hiring top people and his acquisition and handling of Treve has been nothing short of superb. Good luck to him!

  • William

    Sheikh Joaan want more International fame, already a successful stable with Mr Pletcher the sky is the limit.

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