Khalid Abdullah, legendary owner-breeder of Frankel, dies aged 83

Owner and breeder Khalid Abdullah, in whose green, white and pink silks the likes of Frankel, Dancing Brave and Enable ran, has died at the age of 83.

One of the leading names on the global racing scene over the last 40 years, Abdullah had over 500 stakes winners including 118 at Group/Grade 1 level. 

Just a year after having his first runners in Britain in 1978, Abdullah celebrated his first Group 1 success with Known Fact in the 1979 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.

Known Fact went on to become Abudallah's first Classic winner in 1980 after his success in the 2,000 Guineas and the first of the litany of superstars to carry his owner's name.

Douglas Erskine Crum, CEO of Juddmonte Farms, said: "The whole of Juddmonte feels a huge sense of loss. Prince Khalid will always be remembered as a quiet, dignified, benevolent family man whose horses spoke for him.

"He leaves a legacy that will stand the test of time. His contribution to the development of the thoroughbred will have long-lasting effects."

Frankie Dettori, who rode Enable to two Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe wins, said: "It's very sad news. I've enjoyed some great success for Prince Khalid over the years.

"He was an amazing man with an amazing breeding operation that produced many champions. One of my early big wins was on Ryafan for him in the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp, who was trained by John Gosden. 

"I know he got great satisfaction from Enable and I think it was probably one of the last times he went racing when she won the Arc for a second time.

"He was colossal in every sense of the word for our industry with stallions, mares and breeding operations which produced a host of top-class horses over nearly 50 years."

Enable and Frankie Dettori winning the Arc, photo Liesl King

Enable's trainer John Gosden said: "Prince Khalid Abdullah first enjoyed going racing in the 1950s as a young man in Paris. This sparked his bold and thorough plan to establish an international breeding operation in the late 1970s and was an illustration of his brilliant mind. In a period of 20 years he established himself as both a European and American champion breeder. 

"His charming, urbane and humorous manner was coupled with a great strategic approach both in business and his horseracing and breeding operation. A very private and patrician gentleman, Prince Khalid was a very strong family man for whom it has been a great honour and privilege to train for 38 years."

Abdullah's finest horse of the 1980s was undoubtedly Dancing Brave, who won the 2,000 Guineas, Eclipse, King George and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in a fabulous 1986 campaign. 

Guy Harwood, who trained Dancing Brave, said: "It's very sad. He was a very fine gentleman who had a great innings and has left behind him huge racing and breeding enterprises.

"We were very fortunate in the 1980s to have trained some of his best horses and enjoyed doing so. His racing empire was his great love.

"It was his creation. He liked to be involved in every facet. He bought good horses, he then started his studs – he bred the best to the best and had great success."

Juddmonte trailblazer Known Fact was trained by Jeremy Tree, as was Abdullah's first Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Rainbow Quest and the crack miler Danehill, who went on to become a breed-shaping stallion with Coolmore.

Roger Charlton took the reins from Tree at Beckhampton and in his first full season with the licence he sent out the Derby and Prix du Jockey Club double with Quest For Fame and Sanglamore four days apart before going on to train such notable horses as Bated Breath, Cityscape and Kind, the dam of Frankel. 

Charlton said: "I had the good fortune to have known him for over 40 years and we all know the huge contribution that he made and what an amazing professional operation that Juddmonte has become.

"He's been at the head of the table, he's made decisions, mating plans, and I think everybody found him to be charming, humble and a pleasure to work for.

"We had some good days and some bad days, that's how it is. Like everybody, he bounced back very well and he understood racing – he understood that you have to be a good loser as well as celebrating the great victories, of which he had many."

The men and women who trained for Juddmonte reads like a Who's Who of world racing, and Sir Michael Stoute and Andre Fabre have also joined in the tributes.

"It was a great pleasure and privilege to train for Prince Khalid," said Stoute, who landed the Derby-Arc double in 2010 with the Juddmonte homebred Workforce. "He built the Juddmonte empire, turning into one of the most iconic and successful breeding operations in the world. Racing has lost a very special friend and supporter, but his remarkable legacy will live on."

Fabre's list of champions to carry the emerald green and pink silks encompasses British and Irish Classic winners such as Wemyss Bight, Toulon and Zafonic, as well as Breeders' Cup heroine Banks Hill and more recently another Juddmonte Arc winner in Rail Link. 

But it is as a man that Fabre most fondly remembers Abdullah.

"Everybody knows his achievements as an owner and breeder, one of the greatest of all time you could say," said Fabre. "But above all he was a true aristocrat. Not in the sense of class but he was a true prince in everything he did.

"I would say everyone around him was eager to do well for him, without any pressure but just because he was a nice man and everybody wanted things to go well for him."