The Godolphin Story

As a boy, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed was captivated by the power, elegance, speed and grace of horses. As a young man, he and his friends rode bareback races on the sands of Jumeirah Beach.

Every modern thoroughbred traces its beginnings to Arabia and the original Arabian stallions that came from East to West - one of which gives Godolphin its name.

The love of horses is in the DNA of Dubai. As the city has grown, the passion for racing has grown with it. The same pioneering spirit that you see in modern Dubai is felt in Godolphin, constantly looking forward, relentlessly innovating.

Today Team Godolphin spans across four continents, from our home in Dubai to Europe, Australia, Japan and America. Every one of us dreaming, planning, working - doing everything in our power to discover, nurture and train the perfect horse.

Racing is the ultimate team sport. Godolphin is the expression of a shared global passion - for the speed and beauty of these magnificent animals.

The race for excellence
A year like no other

2020 will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe.

Racing went on a hiatus in many countries, with the Dubai World Cup cancelled, together with many other major events around the world.

As competition restarted, albeit behind closed doors, Victor Ludorum became the second straight winner of the G1 French 2,000 Guineas. His victory was followed a few days later by Ghiayyath, who broke the track record when landing the relocated G1 Coronation Cup at Newmarket.

Ghaiyyath went on to record two further G1 victories in 2020: beating Enable in the Eclipse, before leading all the way to win the Juddmonte International. He was named the world's best racehorse of the year, was crowned Cartier Champion Older Horse and Cartier Horse Of The Year, and was also named the Longines World's Best Racehorse of 2020.

Meanwhile in the US, another star was born as Essential Quality rounded off an unbeaten juvenile season with a win in the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, after which he was crowned Champion two-year-old.

The best for a generation

2019 started with success in the southern hemisphere, as Kiamichi took the Golden Slipper, the world's richest two-year-old race. Then on to Dubai, where Thunder Snow became the first horse ever to win the Dubai World Cup twice. However, 2019 was undoubtedly Pinatubo's year!

From the moment he stepped onto the racecourse, the handsome son of Shamardal made his presence felt. A perfect juvenile campaign saw Pinatubo win six times from six starts, including a devastating nine-length victory in the G1 National Stakes which was rated the best two-year-old performance for 25 years. 

Pinatubo rounded off his year with a win in the G1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes and was duly crowned Champion two-year-old.

Another son of Shamardal, Blue Point, also ensured his name would appear in the record books as he became the first horse ever to win two G1 sprints at Royal Ascot in the same week.

Other notable winners were Persian King and Castle Lady, who annexed the French Guineas, plus dual G1 winner Earthlight and Japanese sprinting star, Tower Of London.

A year of memorable milestones

2018 was a banner year for Team Godolphin, with an unprecedented 30 G1 victories around the world. They included two of the most prestigious races on the planet, the Epsom Derby and the Melbourne Cup, won by Masar and Cross Counter respectively.

Team Godolphin also chalked up their 5,000th winner worldwide when Expecting To Fly won a Maiden in France on Thursday, 16 August, 2018.

Since 17 March, 2018, all horses previously racing in the JRA in the name of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed now race in the name of Godolphin. The racing silks carried in Japan are royal blue with a lighter blue band on the sleeve.  

250 Group 1 wins and counting. Reaching out to fans and future leaders.

Godolphin registers its 250th G1 win when Barney Roy breaks the track record to land the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Godolphin’s Fantasy Stable League launches as part of the new fan-based Club Godolphin.

Masar Godolphin welcomes its inaugural class of future industry leaders.

Racing horse
A leading tourist destination

Dubai announced that a record-breaking, 15.8 million international travellers visited the emirate in 2017, representing a 6.2 per cent year-on-year increase in comparison to 2016. The results have further cemented Dubai's global position as one of the leading tourist destinations in the world.

Godolphin and Darley merge

Building on the foundations laid over the past two years, January 2016 saw Sheikh Mohammed’s global racing and breeding empires merge into one seamless operation under Godolphin. Darley, under which all Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock holdings formerly operated, is now used solely as a brand to promote stallions.

Dubai International Airport reaches new heights

Dubai International Airport is now the world’s busiest airport for international passengers with 83.6 million in 2016, serving 140 airlines to over 260 destinations, across six continents

Godolphin builds on global success

Godolphin's eighth victory in the G1 Dubai World Cup was recorded in spectacular fashion by Prince Bishop. Godolphin then enjoyed 16 further G1 wins in five countries, including victories for Territories (France), Jack Hobbs (Ireland), Contributer, Hartnell and Exosphere (Australia), Night of Thunder and Pleascach (UK), and Frosted and Wedding Toast (USA).

The Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards are launched in Ireland and Australia, recognising and rewarding the hard work and dedication of stud and stable staff.

Connecting the dots

Godolphin announces its permanent presence in Australia, becoming the largest horse racing operation in the world with horses in training in Dubai, the UK, Australia, America, Ireland and France.

Looking ahead

Dubai International became the busiest airport in the world for international passengers, overtaking London's Heathrow.

Dubai also saw the launch of new Dubai brand, aiming to attract 20 million tourists to the emirate by 2020.

And the winner is...

In November 2013, the UAE was awarded the honour of hosting World Expo 2020 in Dubai by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the inter-governmental organisation responsible for World Expo. Having competed against Brazil, Russia, Thailand and Turkey, Dubai Expo 2020 will be the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East and is an event that traces its origins to The Great Exhibition, first held in London in 1851.

Success breeds further success

2012 concluded with 16 G1 victories, the best total since 2002, with 214 winners and prize money of US$25.8 million.

For the second time in five years, Godolphin is awarded the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Owner, formally recognising the success of the stable in North America.

Even more connections

Two thirds of the world's population now live within an eight-hour flight of Dubai, where there are now two major airports – Dubai International Airport and Dubai World Central (DWC). 

In 2011, Dubai International Airport handled 51 million passengers (that rose to 83 million passengers by 2016), while Dubai’s second airport, DWC, opened the doors to passengers in October 2013, having launched its cargo operations in 2010. Upon completion, DWC will become the world’s largest airport with a capacity of more than 160 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo per annum.

Opening a new chapter

In 2010 the Dubai World Cup was held for the first time at the newly developed Meydan Racecourse. The iconic grandstand is the longest in world sport at 1,536m, with a seating capacity for over 60,000 and adjoins 285 elegantly appointed rooms and suites of The Meydan Hotel.

Reaching for the skies

The Burj Khalifa opens on 4 January, 2010 as part of a new flagship development, Downtown Dubai. At 829m high, it is the world's tallest building and features the world's fastest elevators, the world's highest restaurant and is crowned with the world's highest mosque.

Immediately iconic, the Burj was climbed on 28 March, 2011 by French climber Alain Robert. Hollywood movie Mission Impossible: 4 was filmed here in the summer of 2011.

Winning down under

In a truly international year, All The Good created history when winning the G1 Caulfield Cup in Melbourne - Godolphin's first success at the highest level in Australia.

A cultural oasis

In 2007, Art Dubai opens and is a showcase for Middle Eastern artists that now attracts serious international interest, including more than 60 museum groups by 2011. The Dubai International Film Festival, which first began screening in 2004, is an influential platform for Arab filmmakers and in 2010, welcomed 2,000 delegates from more than 50 countries.

Ruler of Dubai

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is appointed Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.

Godolphin rides on

Saeed bin Suroor is named Champion Trainer in the UK for the fourth time in 2004, a year in which Godolphin captured 11 G1 races.

Dubawi, a son of the great Dubai Millennium steps onto the racecourse and remains unbeaten all year. He goes on to confirm his sire’s legacy, becoming the first British-based stallion ever to sire 100 Group winners.

The financial hub

Dubai's position between the developed and emerging world creates a natural strategic advantage. In 2004, The Dubai International Financial Centre launches as a Free Zone, quickly attracting major global players. By 2011, the DIFC is home to 800 active registered firms, including 18 of the top 25 global banks, asset managers, insurers and law firms.

Spreading the joy

The scale of Godolphin's global success reached new heights in 2002. The stable embarked upon a campaign that would culminate in G1 triumphs in eight different countries: France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Singapore, UAE, UK and USA.

Small is beautiful

Following the success of Jebel Ali Free Zone, which now hosts more than 6,400 companies, 2002 sees a broadening of this concept throughout Dubai. New Free Zones include Dubai Internet City, Dubai Knowledge Village, Dubai Silicon Oasis and Entrepreneur Business Village. The Free Zones, with their 100 per cent tax breaks and their one-stop shop of offices, warehousing, visa services, amenities and accommodation, attract a wave of ambitious entrepreneurs.

Branching out

While resort and business hotel capacity continues to grow in the emirate, a more ambitious plan takes shape offshore. A new archipelago, the Palm Jumeirah, is created with innovative land reclamation techniques. 94,000,000 cubic metres of sand is used to create the Palm, which also includes a curved breakwater to encourage the growth of a natural reef. On completion, Palm Jumeirah becomes the world's largest artificial island.

Growing across the globe

Sheikh Mohammed expands his bloodstock operation with the purchase of Jonabell Farm in Kentucky, USA and Kelvinside in New South Wales, Australia, before going on to establish a presence in Japan the following year.

A legend shows the way

The year 2000 ushered forward a horse that had been named for the moment. Godolphin's greatest horse, and Sheikh Mohammed's personal favourite, was the magnificent Dubai Millennium. An accomplished horseman, Sheikh Mohammed proved his outstanding ability when identifying Dubai Millennium as a future Champion. He won nine of his 10 starts including a stunning victory in the world's richest race, the Dubai World Cup, in 2000 – the race he was named him to win.

image of racehorse
Putting Dubai on the map

Designed to resemble the sail of a Dhow, and described by its architect as a ‘building that will become synonymous with the name of the country’, the Burj Al Arab opens in December 1999. The striking structure puts Dubai on the map for millions more people and plays a part in the worldwide success of the Jumeirah hotel group. Jumeirah now has resorts in London, Shanghai, Frankfurt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Mallorca and the Maldives.

Pushing boundaries

Emaar Properties, the Gulf region's largest land and property developer, is established. The company experiences rapid growth launching Emirates Hills in 1999, followed by ground-breaking developments such as Dubai Marina (2000) and the Burj Khalifa (2010). In 2004, Emaar International is launched in a strategic move to diversify the company's markets and sustain future growth. It successfully forges a presence in major international locations spanning the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

And they're off!

11 of the world's leading thoroughbreds compete for the inaugural Dubai World Cup, a contest created by Sheikh Mohammed which confirmed the development of racing in Dubai as one of the most significant events to take place on the international racing scene in the last 20 years. The prize is one of the richest purses in racing. American wonder horse Cigar is victorious and sets the standard for what will become a pinnacle of the racing calendar.

Build it and they will come...

The inaugural Dubai Shopping Festival takes place, now an annual festival aimed to unite and promote all aspects of the emirate's economy. Many other events and conferences follow, as Dubai becomes a key global meeting point for business travellers and tourists alike.

Destination Dubai

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed is appointed as Crown Prince of Dubai and announces the 'Destination Dubai' tourism project to transform Dubai into a global tourism hub.

An unprecedented weekend

In May 1995, Godolphin enjoyed an unprecedented weekend of G1 wins around the globe with Flagbird (Italy), Heart Lake (Japan) and Vettori (France) all victorious at the highest level.

First Classic success

Balanchine wins the Oaks at Epsom Downs, UK, giving Godolphin a first Classic success.

The thoroughbred returns home

Together with his three brothers, Sheikh Maktoum, Sheikh Hamdan and Sheikh Ahmed, Sheikh Mohammed defied convention and took the revolutionary step of moving some of his horses from the chilly English winter to the warmth of Dubai, echoing the migration of birds to a warmer climate for the winter months. The seeds from which Godolphin would emerge had been sown.

The first Championship in world sports

The world's best golfers tee off in the Dubai Desert Classic, the first European Tour event to be staged in the Middle East. Winners include such greats as Ernie Els, Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. Four years later in 1993, the Dubai Tennis Championships takes its place on the sporting calendar. Roger Federer and Justine Henin would go on to dominate, winning the title five times apiece.

The empire expands

Sheikh Mohammed purchases Kildangan Stud in Ireland.

Emirates takes off

In 1985, the first Emirates flight takes off from Dubai. The airline begins with two leased planes and US$10 million in start-up capital – small beginnings in the competitive world of aviation. 30 years later, Emirates has a fleet of over 265 aircraft. Given a fair wind by enlightened aviation policies, the once-fledgling airline now serves over 150 destinations in over 80 countries.

Starting the operation

Sheikh Mohammed purchases Dalham Hall Stud, Newmarket, UK from the Philipps family, which at the time stood one stallion and employed fewer than 10 people.

Opening the gates for more trade

Deepwater port, Jebel Ali, opens, taking Dubai's connectivity to a new level. The world's largest man-made harbour, Jebel Ali covers three and a half million square metres, has 67 berths and accommodates 15,000 vessels a year. More than 1,300 containers pass through Jebel Ali every day and it has been named "Best Seaport in the Middle East" for 17 years running. Jebel Ali is also the first "Free Zone" in Dubai, proving a concept that will later spread across the emirate.

Looking up

From a stopping point on the Silk Road to the pearl, fishery and trading station of the 19th century, Dubai has long been dedicated to trade. In 1978, the World Trade Centre, Dubai's first skyscraper, opens. It soon adorns not only the Dubai skyline, but also the UAE's 100 Dirham banknote. Many taller buildings have followed (culminating in the majestic Burj Khalifa) but the World Trade Centre is still a feature of the Dubai skyline and a constant reminder that trade is the engine of the economy.

The first taste of victory

Sheikh Mohammed's own involvement with international racing began with the filly Hatta, who gave him his first success at Brighton, UK on 20 June, 1977. She went on to land the G3 Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood the following month.

Starting out – the United Arab Emirates

The British government ends its treaty with the Trucial States of the Gulf Coast on 1 December, 1971. The next day, six of the newly independent states come together and a new nation – the United Arab Emirates – is born. Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain are the founder members of the federation. A seventh emirate, Ras al-Khaimah, joins in February, 1972. Later that year, the UAE joins UNESCO, the United Nations and the Arab League.

The start of a lifelong passion

Sheikh Mohammed and his brother, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, watched their first horse race in the UK in May 1967, where they saw Royal Palace win the 2,000 Guineas - one of five British Classic races.

Expansion projects

In the 1950s, Dubai's rapidly growing population demanded significant expansion of the city's infrastructure and services. With both eyes on the future, the then Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, transformed the city of Dubai. Sheikh Rashid ordered the dredging of the Dubai creek after recognising that the rapid silting of the waterway limited the number of seagoing vessels that could enter it. By 1961, the creek project was complete and shipping lines begin using Dubai as their main port in the Gulf.

Laying the foundations

Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum bin Hasher Al Maktoum, declares his vision to create a free port and attract foreign traders to the region. A number of barriers are removed such as customs fees and licenses for vessels, a five per cent tax on trade is scrapped, and over 200 Dubai-registered boats and 3,000 merchants are exempted from further tariffs. Merchants, craftsman and pearlers flock to the emirate. In 1902, India shifts its trade to Dubai when Tehran introduces taxes on its merchants.

Godolphin Arabian

The Godolphin Arabian, also known as the Godolphin Barb, was an Arabian horse and was one of three stallions that founded the modern thoroughbred. He was named after his best-known owner, Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin. The horse would later give its name to Sheikh Mohammed's international horse racing stable.

image of Godolphin Arabian racehorse
Darley Arabian

The Darley Arabian was one of three foundation sires of the modern thoroughbred. This bay Arabian horse was bought in Aleppo, Syria, by Thomas Darley in 1704 and shipped back to Aldby Park in England as a present for his brother. The Darley Arabian stood at just 15 hands but was renowned for his striking appearance.

image of Darley Arabian
Byerley Turk

One of three foundation sires of the modern thoroughbred, the Byerley Turk is born. The stallion is believed to have been captured by Captain Robert Byerley at the Battle of Buda and served as Byerley's war horse when he was dispatched to Ireland in 1689 during King William's War. He saw further military service in the Battle of the Boyne.

image of Byerley Turk racehorse