Hamdan cash warning

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The Independent Online
Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum has reiterated the growing unease in his family's near 20-year love affair with British racing, during which time they have become by far the most dominant and influential owners in the sport, writes John Cobb.

Sheikh Hamdan, Dubai's deputy ruler, told the newspaper Gulf Today: "We were first attracted by the traditions of British racing but you can't go on investing all the time. Racing is an expensive hobby. No one can rely on the sport to make big profits but you should be able to cover your expenses."

These are worrying words for those in Britain that have become used to the Maktoum family, principally Sheikh Hamdan and his brothers Sheikh Maktoum, Mohammed and Ahmed, pouring a seemingly endless supply of cash into the purchase of racehorses, breeding stock, studs, stables and even a racing newspaper.

Sheikh Mohammed had already signalled dissatisfaction with the finances of British racing, which compare unfavourably with those bookmaker-free countries where a higher proportion of cash generated via betting is redirected to owners through prize money.

He has reduced the number of horses he has in training, cut back on bloodstock purchases and established stronger relationships with other racing nations, while also developing the sport in his homeland.