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SHEIKH IT OFF: Ultimate Cup loser’s $1.1b fail

The Melbourne Cup’s greatest tragic.
The Melbourne Cup’s greatest tragic.

NINETEEN years and more than $1.1 billion later, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is still a Melbourne Cup loser.

The greatest loser of them all.

The ruler of Dubai and the man behind the biggest thoroughbred racing operation on the planet, Godolphin, came up short yet again when the race that stops the nation was run and won by four-year-old stallion Rekindling at Flemington on Tuesday.

At least this time losing was easy to accept.

Melbourne Cup failure hasn't always been so easily swallowed by the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates - especially after reportedly splurging more than $1.1 billion on his racing operations in Australia since he first set his sights on winning the Cup.

The 68-year-old was never considered a significant chance of pulling off his first Cup victory in the 2017 two-mile classic. His only runner Hartnell, was a $26 outsider with the TAB - and the seven-year-old gelding never got near the front of the field at Flemington, finishing 20th out of the 23 runners.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has had more success at Royal Ascot.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has had more success at Royal Ascot.

That doesn't mean it will be easy to stomach for one of the most powerful figures in racing.

All his billions have amounted to nothing in his pursuit of the $6.2 million Melbourne Cup.

Money, when it comes to the Melbourne Cup, can't buy happiness - at least not for the Vice President of the UAE.

Fairfax media reports Godolphin last year recorded a Spring Carnival loss of more than $91 million when it had five runners in the Melbourne Cup.

In 2015, when Godolphin initially nominated 10 horses to try and earn a place in the final field of 24 for the Cup, the racing operation lost $55.7 million.

The racing giant has lost $614 million chasing success in Australia, according to its publicly listed accounts.

That loss is only sustainable because of the deep pockets of Golophin's biggest stakeholder - Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum - who has to cough up to cover the losses.

Hartnell ridden by Damien Lane was at the wrong end of the Melbourne Cup field.
Hartnell ridden by Damien Lane was at the wrong end of the Melbourne Cup field.

After 19 years of losing - with nothing but five minor placings, including Hartnell's third-place finish in the 2016 Cup, to show for it - the Sheikh has cemented himself as the Melbourne Cup's biggest loser.

Since 1998, Godolphin horses have recorded three second places and two thirds.

In Australia alone, Godolphin has more than 900 runners a year.

Still, all those resources and all that money have turned to dust when it comes to the first Tuesday in November.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum will be choking on the advice 2016 and 2017 Melbourne Cup winning owner Lloyd Williams offered after his success last year with Almandin.

"You need a lot of luck to win this race,'' Williams said.

"You need a lot of luck, a lot of things to go right. Anyone who thinks they have got the answer to doing this should look up to the ­Almighty. It is not an exact science. You can do all the things that are right but it doesn't necessarily mean it is going to turn out right.''

There's always next year.

Topics:  melbourne cup 2017


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