The exploits of Nashwan, Salsabil and Shadayid in recent seasons have inspired the notion that Classic success is almost commonplace for the Sheikh, but even his massive investment has failed to produce a performer of the highest excellence this year.
Of the 220 horses he has scattered among Britain's trainers, the best of the current crop are Muhtarram, who was just outside the frame in both the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby, and the Queen Anne Stakes victor at the Royal meeting, Lahib.
This relative paucity of top-
calibre ammunition does not disturb the Sheikh too greatly, however. He understands that fallow years, even for one of the world's most powerful players, are a ritual of racing. 'We are definitely down on really nice horses at the moment, there's no doubt about that,' Angus Gold, the Sheikh's racing manager, says. 'But this game is all about swings and roundabouts and Sheikh Hamdan looks on it as a long-term business. Anyway you would have to say we've been quite lucky these past few years.'
There are still hopes that Muhtarram will salvage something from this campaign, while the owner's batch of two-year-olds are promising to restore the Classic status quo in 1993.
'Things have not been going quite right for Muhtarram but he could still go to York (for the International Stakes),' Gold says. 'There's no doubt he is a horse with plenty of ability. And then there are promising types for the future like Thawakib, Salatin and Liyakah (an impressive winner at Goodwood on Wednesday).'
While Classic thoughts are entertained for the chosen few among the Sheikh's string, most of the animals are simply trying to pay their way. Two such journeymen, in Jahafil and Mutabahi, should contribute to the coffers at Goodwood this afternoon.
Jahafil (3.45), a victor on his seasonal debut, should regain winning ways following defeat at the hands of Silver Wisp at Chepstow on his latest outing. 'It was a very encouraging effort first time out (in winning Newmarket's Fred Archer Stakes) and he possibly should have set a stronger pace last time though he was up against a very good horse,' Gold says. 'He should go well.'
MUTABAHI (nap 3.10) tries 10 furlongs for the first time after being campaigned at around a mile. 'He's been getting behind and then finishing well so this trip might be the key,' Gold says.
The keys to the other televised races should be the Royal Ascot winner Niche (2.30) and Dime Bag (next best 4.15).Reuse content