Prince Khalid's Enable ridden by Frankie Dettori was one of racing's greats
London (AFP) - Khalid Abdullah’s death on Tuesday aged 83 is a huge loss to racing, the Saudi Prince having been one of flat racing’s most successful owners and breeders.
His colours – green silks with white sleeves and a pink sash and cap – have been synonymous with top-class success for almost three decades.
Here AFP Sport picks out three who would also probably rank among the greatest in the history of the turf:
Frankel epitomises the fairytale horse retiring unbeaten with 14 wins giving Henry Cecil battling cancer huge joy and reward for Prince Khalid Abdullah's loyalty in sticking with the trainer when many had deserted him as his fortunes waned
Not many horses retire with a perfect record but the mighty Frankel achieved that feat, bowing out with 14 wins from 14 races, including winning the English 2000 Guineas in 2011 by six lengths, the biggest winning distance since 1947.
His exploits had particular poignancy because of the difficulties trainer Henry Cecil faced on and off the track, including the death of his twin brother, a messy divorce and a cancer diagnosis in 2006. At one point he had fewer than 50 horses in training, having once had over 200.
But Abdullah remained loyal and was rewarded as Frankel, with Tom Queally in the saddle, gave the trainer a rousing finale to his career. Though Cecil was visibly weakened by his battle with cancer, he only missed one of Frankel’s 14 races.
There was barely a dry eye at Ascot after his 14th and last victory in 2012 as the crowd chanted “Our ‘Enry” and Frankel performed a lap of honour around the parade ring.
“He (Frankel) has given me so much strength,” said Cecil, who died the following year.
The decision to replace Greville Starkey with Pat Eddery after a poor ride in the Derby paid off as Prince Khalid Abdullah's Dancing Brave won the Prix de 'Arc de Triomphe beating one of the strongest fields of all time
Guy Harwood did not have the popular appeal of Cecil but he was as adept at training a racehorse. Dancing Brave, who cost $200,000 as a yearling, was the finest example of that.
He could have completed the 2000 Guineas/Epsom Derby double in 1986 but jockey Greville Starkey was criticised for his race tactics in the Derby. The late Pat Eddery replaced Starkey and he guided the horse to victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
It was a performance befitting a champion in one of the greatest fields in the race’s history.
Eddery had to switch him to the outside as he faced a wall of nine horses in front with only a couple of furlongs to race.
However, any ground he lost there he made up for with an astonishing burst of speed. Harwood, who retired in 1996, said Dancing Brave was the best horse he had trained.
“He was the best,” agreed Eddery. “He had a lovely quality about him, really laid-back.”
Enable Frankie Dettori's favourite girl provided Prince Khalid Abdullah with a final glorious fanfare winning two successive Prix de l'Arc de Triomphes amongst many other historic races
Frankie Dettori’s ‘favourite girl’ she gave Abdullah a final fanfare of glory on the track.
Rare for a top class racehorse she raced on till she was six in an ultimately failed bid under Dettori to win a third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last year.
Her trainer John Gosden said it was a testament to Abdullah’s character the ‘sporting decision’ for her to stay on for the campaign.
However, 15 wins – 11 of them Group Ones including a record three King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and a Breeders’ Cup Turf to go with her two Arcs – and over £10 million ($13.6 million) in prizemoney testifies to her class.
Enable would probably have been retired at the end of 2019 had not Dettori and her been denied the historic third Arc when caught close to the line and had to settle for second.
Her class also kept the fire burning in Dettori to carry on – he would spoil her by feeding her Polo mints when he visited the Gosden stables.
“She has got this amazing presence and these massive, big ears,” said Dettori explaining her special aura.
“She walks with her chest sticking out and you can see it -– she gives those vibes to everyone and people are attached to her for that reason.
“I’ve become friends with her.”