Darley in China

  • 1686

    The dawn of the English Thoroughbred


    All racehorses descend from three founding fathers of the thoroughbred breed, the oldest of which, the Byerley Turk, was seized in the Battle of Buda in 1686 by an Irish Captain. Ten years later, Captain Byerley married an English woman and moved with his prize stallion to Yorkshire, where the Byerley Turk founded his dynasty.

  • 1704

    The Darley Arabian arrives
    in Britain


    Thomas Darley, and English trader and emissary of Queen Anne, discovers a beautiful colt in Aleppo, Syria. He exchanges the horse for a shipment of rifles in the first arms deal in the Middle East and ships the stallion – who enters racing legend as the Darley Arabian – to his family estate in Yorkshire. On returning to England himself some time later, Mr Darley discovers his sister no longer has his prize stallion – she's swapped him for a bull. The Darley Arabian becomes the most prepotent of the stallions who formed the thoroughbred and most modern-day racehorses carry several hundred crosses of his descendants. Almost 280 years after the Darley Arabian stood his first season at stud, Sheikh Mohammed names his breeding operation in honour of one of the Arab world's greatest ever exports.

  • 1724

    The Godolphin Arabian
    is foaled


    The last of the three most famous forefathers of the racehorse, the Godolphin Arabian, is foaled in Yemen and later given by the Bey of Tunis to King Louis XV of France. Not valued by his new owner, he's bought by an Englishman, Edward Coke, who found the horse pulling a cart in Paris. Coke brings the stallion to England and, on his death, the horse become the property of the Earl of Godolphin. 280 years later, the stallion finds renewed fame as the name of Sheikh Mohammed's all-conquering racing stable.

  • 1949

    Sheikh Mohammed is born


    On 15th July 1949, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum is born in Dubai, the third son of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Rashid.

  • 1967

    Sheikh Mohammed is bitten
    by the bug


    Sheikh Mohammed visits Newmarket’s Rowley Mile racecourse and sees Royal Palace winning the 2,000 Guineas over the straight mile. It's his first time at the races in Britain: a formative experience.

  • 1977

    Sheikh Mohammed welcomes
    his first winner


    The two-year-old filly Hatta, bought at the sales the previous October, becomes the first horse to win in Sheikh Mohammed’s maroon-and-white racing colours when victorious at Brighton. Hatta, who was famously fast, went on to win the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes at the Glorious Goodwood meeting later that summer.

  • 1981

    A breeding dynasty begins


    Sheikh Mohammed buys Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket. The purchase included the one stallion standing there at the time – Great Nephew, sire of that year's Derby hero Shergar – and ten mares, among them Oh So Fair who was in foal carrying a filly subsequently named Oh So Sharp. Oh So Sharp went on to win the Fillies’ Triple Crown in 1985.

  • 1986

    Expansion into Ireland


    Sheikh Mohammed purchases Kildangan Stud in Ireland, a stud that has been part of thoroughbred history for a century and one that has produced many Champions both before and since.

  • 1992

    Godolphin is founded


    The first runners from Sheikh Mohammed's racing stable win in Dubai. Over the coming years, the very best horses owned by Sheikh Mohammed and other members of the Maktoum family run in the now-famous royal blue silks. In late autumn, horses were sent from Newmarket to Dubai to benefit from the winter sunshine for the first time.

  • 1994

    Balanchine becomes Godolphin’s first Classic winner


    The three-year-old filly Balanchine wins the Epsom Oaks – the fillies' Derby and the oldest Classic on the racing calendar. Balanchine goes on to defeat her male rivals in the Irish Derby.

  • 1995

    Lammtarra records a remarkable racing season


    Lammtarra, owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s nephew Saeed bin Maktoum al Maktoum, provides the family and the racing stable with a first victory in the Epsom Derby on his first run for Godolphin. During his unbeaten career, he also won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – he's the only horse to have won all three races besides Mill Reef. Once retired from stud duties, Lammtarra lived out his days at Dalham Hall Stud until his death in 2014.

  • 1996

    The inaugural Dubai World Cup


    Sheikh Mohammed’s vision of hosting world-class racing in Dubai is realised with the first running of the Dubai World Cup – the world’s richest horserace. Taking place at Nad Al Sheba, the race was won by the extraordinary American Champion Cigar, in his 14th consecutive win.

  • 2000

    Dubai Millennium fulfils his destiny


    Dubai Millennium, bred by Sheikh Mohammed at Dalham Hall Stud and his all-time favourite horse, records a remarkable victory in the Dubai World Cup. Later that year, he returned to Britain and won the G1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in what was to be his final start before injury cut short his racing career. Retired to Dalham Hall Stud, Dubai Millennium died in April having contracted grass sickness. He sired only 56 foals, led by the amazing Dubawi – a high-class racehorse for Godolphin who has gone on to be Britain's greatest living stallion.

  • 2001

    Darley’s global expansion


    Sheikh Mohammed purchases Jonabell Farm, in the famous bluegrass state of Kentucky. That year, Darley also expands Sheikh Mohammed's breeding operation into the southern hemisphere with the purchase of Kelvinside Stud in New South Wales and, later, Northwood Park Stud in Victoria.

  • 2008

    Sheikh Mohammed is honoured by the racing industry


    Sheikh Mohammed is presented with the Cartier Award of Merit for his outstanding contribution to the thoroughbred industry. The same year, Stonerside Stables, where current Darley stallions Midshipman and Raven’s Pass were foaled, is added to Darley’s list of stud farms.

  • 2010

    State-of-the-art racecourse Meydan hosts its first Dubai World Cup


    Meydan, the magnificent racecourse conceived by Sheikh Mohammed, opens its doors and rounds off a hugely successful first season of racing with the Dubai World Cup.

  • 2014

    Dubawi breaks new ground
    and Godolphin expands


    Dubawi, grandson of the great Dubai Millennium and now one of the world’s most successful stallions, records his 50th Group winner in a faster time than any other stallion ever.

  • 2006

    ​First Chinese national joins
    Darley Flying Start


    ​Junling Sun becomes the first Chinese national to join Darley’s flagship management training programme.

  • 2008

    ​Darley team visits China


    ​Senior Darley representatives travel to Shanghai, Nanjing, Beijing, Wuhan and Lanzhou, meeting the head of the Chinese Equestrian Association and representatives from China Agricultural University, Beijing Equestrian Club and a number of leading stud farms. Darley managers have been making similar trips to China every year since. The same year, Junling graduates from the Darley Flying Start programme and Bill Wong joins.

  • 2009

    ​Chinese equestrian leaders attend the Dubai World Cup


    ​Darley invites leading horse owners from China to attend the Dubai World Cup to learn more about horseracing and the development of Dubai. Later that year, Chinese horse owners visit Sheikh Mohammed’s stud farms and training facilities in Australia.

    Jennifer Zhou becomes the first Chinese woman to join Darley Flying Start.

  • 2010

    ​Further visitors to the
    Dubai World Cup, and also
    to Darley in the US


    ​A second delegation of leading horse owners from China attend the Dubai World Cup and in May, a group from China visit Sheikh Mohammed’s stud farms in North America.

  • 2011

    ​Darley announces it will stand stallions in China


    ​In support of the Chinese thoroughbred industry, Darley reveals that it will stand two of Sheikh Mohammed’s stallions in China – the Storm Cat horse Jalil and Sousa, a Group 1 winner by Galileo. Also this year, Darley welcomes a number of Chinese visitors to Sheikh Mohammed’s historic stud farm in Ireland.

  • 2012

    ​The Dubai International Thoroughbred Internships
    are launched


    ​DITI – Dubai International Thoroughbred Internships – is launched, giving Chinese graduates the opportunity to learn about Darley and the wider thoroughbred industry. The first intake of interns travel to Dubai and meet with HH Sheikh Mohammed and his son HH Sheikh Hamdan.

    ​Darley’s commitment to education is further demonstrated when it selects four Chinese students to travel to Ireland to learn equine care at RACE in Ireland July. This summer, Bill Wong graduates from Darley Flying Start.

    Darley’s activities in China itself continue to expand with senior Darley personnel attending the opening of Jinma racetrack and the following month, the China Horse Fair.

    Joe Osborne, James Hall and a group of Irish thoroughbred contacts entertained the mayor of Nanjing and a delegation of Chinese guests at Kildangan Stud in Ireland.

  • 2013

    ​The Darley Jockey Training Programme is launched


    ​Darley announces sponsorship of the Darley Jockey Training Programme. The 12 jockeys selected graduate at a ceremony held in Beijing later in the year, together with the first graduates to complete the Dubai International Thoroughbred Internships programme.

    ​The second intake of DITI interns begin their course with an introduction in Beijing and in October at the China Horse Fair, Darley’s educational programmes catch the attention of a wider audience.

    ​The DITI interns once again travelled to Dubai in December where they gained a wealth of information on Sheikh Mohammed’s leadership, the development of the Emirate and the growing links between China and the UAE.

  • 2014

    ​​Darley’s Educational Seminars begin during our busiest year yet – the year of the horse


    ​Darley hosted its first educational seminar, offering an introduction to core areas of equine care and development. This year also saw the largest intake of graduates – 25 –to the DITI progamme. Darley representatives attended the Asian Racing Conference in Hong Kong, while eight new jockeys were invited to the UK for training.

  • 2015

    ​Ever more, ever greater...


    ​2015 will see further educational seminars plus the continuation of Darley’s support of DITI and the Jockey Training Programme.

Darley in China

Darley has been taking an active interest in the development of thoroughbred breeding and racing in China since the mid 2000s. Senior representatives of Darley have been regular visitors to China since 2008, travelling widely across the country to build relationships with leading figures and develop an understanding of China’s thoroughbred breeding and racing initiatives.

After one such visit, Darley, with the support of Sheikh Mohammed, decided to focus on the development of a range of education and training projects, recognising that the development of thoroughbred breeding and racing in any country requires a long-term commitment to build skills and knowledge across a broad base of areas. These were designed to broaden the Chinese understanding of global thoroughbred breeding and racing and also to help Darley learn from the rich tradition of horsemanship in China.

Over the following three years, Darley invited a number of leading Chinese thoroughbred experts and horse owners to its stud farms in Australia, USA and Ireland. Darley also invited a number of influential guests to the Dubai World Cup in March 2009 and 2010 to provide first-hand experience of HH Sheikh Mohammed’s racing showpiece in his homeland.

In October 2011, Darley made the ground-breaking decision to stand two of Sheikh Mohammed’s stallions in China as a gesture of friendship and support for the development of thoroughbred breeding. Jalil, an impressive Group winner in Dubai during his racing career, was offered to leading thoroughbred breeders in the Beijing area while Sousa, winner of the famous Spring Champion Stakes in his native Australia, stood in Inner Mongolia. Having already made a significant contribution to the development of breeding over the following two seasons, Jalil and Sousa were transferred into local private ownership in 2013.

Dubai International Thoroughbred Internships (DITI) was launched in August 2012. This is a unique, ten-month programme which recruits recent Chinese university graduates and immerses them in the world of Darley and the wider thoroughbred breeding industry. By June 2015, there will be 60 graduates from this programme, working across a broad range of industries both in China and across the world.

There have also been a number of Chinese nationals who have undertaken Darley’s flagship Flying Start management training programme, the first being Junling Sun who graduated in 2008. He and his fellow graduates are now taking leading roles in the development of thoroughbred breeding both in China and across the world.

For the past two years, Darley has also worked closely with representatives of horse racing in China to bring a group of upcoming Chinese jockeys to be trained at the home of horseracing in Newmarket in the United Kingdom. This has proven to be a highly successful initiative, with 20 Chinese jockeys to date receiving training at The British Racing School. A number of these jockeys have returned to great success in China and it is anticipated that the best will return to Newmarket for further training this year.

Darley’s education focus has also led to the staging of various events within China. In 2014, Darley hosted two separate educational seminars for leading owners and breeders from across China. Working in collaboration with the Chinese Equestrian Association and Beijing Turf Equestrian Association, leading global experts were invited to present lectures on veterinary care and nutrition.

The 2016-2017 DITI programme was the last in it’s original format. Since 2017, students with a similar background who are seeking a career in the thoroughbred industry will have the opportunity to apply for internships at Godolphin farms worldwide.