Huge loss to the UAE sporting fraternity and Gulf nations, laments DSC’s Hareb says
Even as the UAE sporting world was mourning the loss of Shaikh Rashid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, tributes have been paid to a multitalented sportsman, sports enthusiast and racehorse owner.
While his legendary skills as a horseman helped him win three European Open Endurance Championship gold medals, he was also admired and respected as a talented flat-racing jockey, footballer and swimmer.
Shaikh Rashid will always be remembered as a very special competitor and one who contributed enormously to the dominance that the UAE endurance team enjoyed between 1998 and 2005.
His finest hour came at the 2001 European Open Championship in Italy where he won the individual gold medal which paved the way for the UAE to clinch the team gold, a feat that would be repeated at Punchestown, Ireland in 2003 and Compiegne, France in 2005.
At the Asian level Shaikh Rashid bagged the individual gold medal at the 2006 Doha Asian Games while leading the UAE to victory in the team competition. The UAE was represented by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President, UAE National Olympic Committee; and Shaikh Majid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Meanwhile, Saeed Hareb, General Secretary, Dubai Sports Council (DSC), led the tributes to Shaikh Rashid.
“This is such a huge loss to the sporting fraternity in the UAE and to the brotherly Gulf nations,” he told Gulf News.
“He was a sportsman in the true sense of the word. He was present at every event whenever it was possible for him. This presence at various sporting events was a huge boost to all of us involved in the development of the sporting sector in the UAE. The UAE will miss a true leader of sports.”
Shaikh Rashid was also the founder and chairman of Dubai Club that is based on the outskirts of Dubai on the Oman-Hatta Road.
“He played for the senior team much before the UAE Football Association (UAE FA) adopted professionalism a few years ago,” Hareb reminisced.
In horse racing Shaikh Rashid was a prominent owner who swept to five UAE championships between 2000 and 2005.
His maroon racing silks were carried to victory in some of the biggest races during the Dubai World Cup Carnival while Rhythm Band, ridden by his retained jockey Ted Durcan, gifted him the prestigious $2 million (Dh7.34 million) Dubai Turf (G1) on Dubai World Cup night in 2000.
On the same day, Durcan, a seven-time UAE champion jockey, would ride Shaikh Rashid’s Conflict to win the $1 million Godolphin Mile (G2).
Shaikh Rashid also won the Godolphin Mile in 2005 with the Mike de Kock-trained Grand Emporium.
His other notable wins came with Little Jim in the UAE 2,000 Guineas (2004) and Terrific Challenge in the Mahab Al Shimaal (G3).
Estimraar was one of his favourite horses with wins in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1, Al Shindagha Sprint and Mahab Al Shimaal.
In 2001 he acquired a horse called State Shinto who made UAE racing history by competing in four consecutive Dubai World Cups. Although he did not win, State Shinto did come close in 2001 when he finished in fourth place behind American-trained Captain Steve.
Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Minister of Health, Vice President and Chairman, Executive Council, UAE National Olympic Committee (UAE NOC), described Shaikh Rashid as a true horseman who had brought honour to his country at various international events.
Mohammad Al Kamali, General Secretary, UAE NOC, noted that Shaikh Rashid’s achievements will withstand the test of time.
“Shaikh Rashid has left behind his achievements and these will stand as a consolation to all of us,” Al Kamali said.
Ahmad Al Kamali, IAAF Council Member and President, UAE Athletics Federation, recalled Shaikh Rashid’s pivotal role in the annual Dubai Marathon.
“In 2003, Shaikh Rashid approached us and told us he would support the Dubai Marathon, and it was due to his support and backing that we have been able to take this race to being one of the most sought after events on the athletics calendar,” Al Kamali said.
“His association with athletics was from a very young age. We organised a road race in the Al Zabeel area and I remember Shaikh Rashid attending the event and handing over the prizes when he was just four years old.”