Friday, March 18, 2016

The Maktoums: From Bedouins to Billionaires (Part I) - Full Article

March 15 2016

Time does not wait in Dubai. It is an impatient measure of what is immediately past and what is going to happen next. And so it is for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum who dreamt the same dreams of his father, Sheikh Rashid…the dream of transforming Dubai from a sleepy seaport dependent on pearling into an international trading center sustaining his people into the future. Yet this Sheikh doesn’t just conjur; he plans and executes. He hires the brightest of talent and expects the best in performance. He operates, in part, from OPM (other people’s money)…investment dollars. And like any dream that requires a kind of myopia with the reality of investments amid world fiscal meltdowns and international terrorism, Sheikh Mohammed never wavered from his vision of Dubai. Much like the racehorse in flight, he grabs the bit and charges forward.

Of the things that Sheikh Mohammed treasures beyond Dubai’s future are his children and his horses. For this is a determined man, a champion endurance rider himself, who has consistently infused the pockets of bluegrass breeders at the Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton auctions in his quest for the Kentucky Derby roses and Breeders' Cup glory. The Maktoum brothers first set their sights on American bloodstock in 1980, spending $2.45 mil on primarily the Northern Dancer line (Levin/2002). “The Dancer” had been a relatively smallish colt but had proven heart and stamina on the American track in the 60s. As a sire, his progeny had proved adept on all track surfaces, particularly grass, which was the European, Asian and Australian surface of choice. The Dubai entourage was just getting warmed up when in ‘84 they spent close to $42 mil setting a record for single day sales at Fasig-Tipton. Continuing to make purchases into the present day with his majib, led by John Ferguson and some of the finest bloodstock minds in the racing industry, they are a force in international racing. Of note is the fact that 1980 was not the first sale attended by “Sheikh Mo” in Lexington. The previous year he flew commercially into Lexington incognito. Upon arrival he discovered that the area’s hotels were booked to capacity and ended up staying at a small motel down the road from Keeneland. The next morning, dressed to blend in, he hovered in the back of the sales theatre, careful not to draw the attention of the Irish bloodstock agents from the Curragh that might recognize him from British stakes racing where the Maktoum brothers had been making their mark (Wilson/2006).

What is unique about the Maktoum mentality is that they consider any loss as a lesson and a factor in the next victory….something to build upon...

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