Horse racing: Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda drives on with terrific team backing

Dubai: Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda has enjoyed enormous success over the years and his third-straight and fourth overall UAE Owners’ Championship success at the end of the 2020/21 campaign provided sufficient proof his breeding operation is on the right track.

Al Nabooda has been a long-time campaigner of UAE-bred Purebred Arabians and has twice bred the winner of the Group 1 Dubai Kahayla Classic, the only Purebred Arabian affair on the prestigious Dubai World Cup card. He first achieved the feat in 2016, when AF Mathmoon won in the colours of the late Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the former Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, and then three years later he won yet again as owner-breeder with AF Maher delivering spectacularly. A third victory would have come his way this year, but the Ernst Oertel-schooled AF Alwajel fell just short in his effort in the hands of Tadhg O’Shea.

The heartache, if any, was fleeting and to Al Nabooda it didn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things as he was left thoroughly impressed by a horse, previously known for his sprinting ability to have come so close to winning one of the world’s most prestigious mid-distance races in Arabian racing.

“I was very pleased with the way AF Alwajel ran in the Kahayla Classic. He was a sprinter and I think he holds two sprint records. Even in the Kahayla, despite finishing second, he completed the race in less time than the previous record,” said Al Nabooda, referring to the fact that AF Alwajel finished the race in a time faster than the previous record, despite his three fourths of a length defeat by Deryan.

“I was very happy with his performance in the race and it shows Ernst’s expertise as a trainer because he was able to change him from a sprinter into a middle distance horse, which is really good. He ran against some very strong horses, but his result shows local breds can still show we can be competitive. All results are a blessing from God, so I just accept them and I am very happy with that result.”

Al Nabooda does not have to look too far to find the fuel needed to drive his passion for breeding and racing Arabians. That he gets from the bespoke German car brands his company are dealers for in Dubai. Al Nabooda dons many hats and one of those is that of a businessman. He is the Managing Director of the Khalifa Juma Al Nabooda Group of Companies and must juggle between varied roles to keep his passion alive.

Al Nabooda’s engine runs on a tank that never empties and his unrelenting passion for horses is what keeps his wheels turning in cruise control.

“My aim has always been to prove that locally bred horses can compete with the best horses and I think I’ve proven that our horses can win races at all levels from maidens to Group Ones,” Al Nabooda explained. “Ever since I started in 1990, pedigrees and bloodlines have fascinated me. I am still on the journey, learning all the time, but proud of what has been achieved so far.”

Achievements are all down to teamwork and the more cohesive a unit, with all the cogs fitting perfectly the smoother and better the performance.

He explains: “I thank God for this fourth title and it means a lot to me. It wasn’t easy, especially with the COVID pandemic, but to win despite everything going on for the fourth time shows I am on the right track and with the right team.

“It is down to teamwork. I have a good team around me. A team that works not because of money, but because they love horses. I have Ernst and Karl Oertel and Tadhg and they work as if they own things.

“We all work very closely, from the trainers, the jockeys, the farriers, the grooms, the feed in charge everyone does their bit for the team. We have a good team in place and when you have a good team you will get good results. But you also need to have good horses to win and our UAE breds have shown they are capable of competing against the best.”

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