Who Are Wathnan Racing? Ascot Gold Cup Owner Revealed As Emir Of Qatar

Wathnan Racing
Wathnan Racing

Who are Wathnan Racing? Is a question that eagle-eyed horse racing fans have been asking of late as the new blue and gold silks on the scene have already won two races at Royal Ascot in 2023 – including the biggest of them all, the Ascot Gold Cup with the Frankie Dettori-ridden Courage Mon Ami.

Who Are Wathnan Racing and Where Have Them Come From?

Wathnan Racing silksIt’s been said that Wathnan Racing wanted to enter the world of horse racing quietly and go under the radar.

A fair approach in theory, but when you’ve fired in the winner of the 2023 Ascot Gold Cup anonymity gets ripped up faster than a losing betting slip.

Add in the fact Wathnan Racing had already sent out Gregory to win the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot 2023, then tongues were already wagging, as to just who was behind them, long before their Gold Cup triumph.

So, Just Who Is Behind Wathnan Racing?

Like the end scene of a Scooby-Do episode the ‘big reveal’ came not long after the Gold Cup win by Courage Mon Ami and when you’ve also jocked-up a certain ready-made headline maker in Frankie Dettori to ride, then the guys at Wathnan Racing knew they had to come clean.

Okay, we are building this up to be a huge deal but – spoiler alert – this certainly isn’t on par with a Top Gear Stig reveal.

Yes, you’ve probably guessed it, Wathnan Racing are another big-spending Middle East outfit that have money to burn and are already well-known to many in the world of sport with interests across the globe – including owning PSG football club.

The Emir Of Qatar Is Fronting Wathnan Racing

Yes, the big unmasking is that Wathnan Racing is really the Emir Of Qatar – one of the richest men around and the current ruler of Qatar – Sheikh Tamin.

Tamin’s brother Sheikh Joaan runs the Al Shaqab Racing and his cousin Sheikh Fahad runs Qatar Racing.

The Emir of Qatar has got a net worth in the region of £1.6billion, while his ruling family is said to have around £276 billion lurking down the back of the sofa. Therefore, when it came to ordering their bloodstock agent (Richard Brown of Blanford Bloodstock) to buy some ‘select horses’ that they can hit the ground running with – money wasn’t an object.

Brown told the Racing Post earlier in 2023 how it all started

“Olly Tait and I lived next to each other when we first moved to Newmarket 25 years ago. We formed a friendship and have been good mates ever since. It was Easter Sunday when Olly called me about this project.”

“Obviously Wathnan Racing had been to the horses-in-training sales and bought quite a few horses to go to Qatar, and I’d quietly helped Olly with a few things like valuations in the background.”

“He told me he’d been to Qatar and the horses they’d bought had worked out well, so the owners would like to have a go at racing in Britain. He asked if I’d help and obviously I was blown away to even be asked.”

Brown added: “They are extraordinary to deal with. I report to Olly and then he deals with the guys in Qatar, but everything has been completely straightforward. We’re very focused and disciplined in what we’re trying to do.”

Jockey James Doyle Joins Wathnan Racing As Their Retained Jockey

james doyle
James Doyle: Wathnan Racing No. 1 jockey

It was also announced at the end of the 2023 flat season that jockey James Doyle will be the Wathnan Racing retained rider in 2024.

Doyle had been employed by the ‘boys in blue’ of Godolphin, but in the last few seasons was playing second-fiddle to William Buick and has decided to quit that role.

He rode Ballymount Boy to win the Listed Prospect Stakes at Doncaster at the end of October for Wathnan Racing and within days Doyle was announced as their number one jockey.

Doyle told the Racing Post “It is a tremendous honour for me to sign for Wathnan. It’s an amazing opportunity for me going forward with His Highness Sheikh Tamim’s Wathnan Racing and I’m greatly looking forward to working with Olly Tait, Richard Brown and the rest of the team.”

The move for James Doyle will end a nine-year spell with Godolphin, while before that he was also the main jockey for Khalid Abdullah.

Courage Mon Ami Was Bought From Anthony Oppenheimer


The Wathnan Racing Ascot Gold Cup winner was bought off Derby-winning owner Anthony Oppenheimer prior to his big win at the Berkshire track, with his black and white silks replaced with the new Emir Of Qatar’s colours of blue with gold sleeves and a red cap (see here).

The new colours hit the track at Royal Ascot 2023 when another recent purchase (from the Manton Stud) Isaac Shelby finished 4th in the Queen Anne – their plan of going ‘under the radar’ was working.

However, the silks were back out again on the Wednesday at Royal Ascot 2023 and with Frankie Dettori doing the modelling this is when the curious cats came out of the woodwork – especially when their horse (Gregory) won the Queen’s Vase.

Other Wathnan Racing Horses

Besides the 2023 Ascot Gold Cup winner Courage Mon Ami, Wathnan Racing of course own several other high-calibre horses. As mentioned previously, Wathnan Racing own Gregory the Queen’s Vase winner at Royal Ascot back in June 2023.

Gregory was last seen at the York Ebor Festival where he came third in the Great Voltigeur Stakes for jockey Dettori and trainers John & Thady Gosden. The same can be said for Ballymount Boy – another Wathran Racing owned horse, who won the Listed Prospect Stakes at Doncaster at the end of October 2023.

Prior to that Doncaster win, Ballymount Boy was the outright favourite to win the Tattersalls Acomb Stakes at York, but was beaten by 1 1/2 lengths to finish in second for trainer Adrian Keatley. Wathnan Racing do have another entry at the York Ebor Festival though in the shape of Isaac Shelby.

Isaac Shelby contests the City of York Stakes on Saturday 26th August at York for trainer Brian Meehan. This is another of Wathnan Racing’s hopefuls, who is currently the 6/1 third favourite to win the Group 2, Class 1 race over seven furlongs.

The Ascot Gold Cup winner Courage Mon Ami is also in action at York during the 2023 Ebor Festival and contests the Lonsdale Cup Stakes. The likes of Coltrane and Quickthorn are more fancied than the Gosden-trained four-year-old, but we all know that Courage Mon Ami has the beating off those horse on his day, just like we saw at Royal Ascot in June.

Remarquee for trainer Ralph Beckett, Per Contra for Ollie Sangster and Jayyash for the Gosden’s are the other three Wathnan Racing owned horses. None of these three are in action at the York Ebor Festival, but will certainly be worth keeping an eye on in the future.

Wathnan Racing have also been busy at the end-of-season sales, including buying Rogue Lightning for a reported £1m just before Champions Day at Ascot, so we can expect to see their blue, gold and red silks at the courses a lot more during 2024.

Wathnan Racing Hit The Big Time With Just Their Third Ever Runner

Fresh from the Queen’s Vase win, it was onto the 2023 Ascot Gold Cup and with Frankie Dettori hunting his ninth win in the race there was a lot of focus on their runner Courage Mon Ami, who was sent off at 15/2.

Despite the slightly longer odds for a Frankie final runner in the race, the horse would still have had a lot of backers and the lightly-raced Gosden runner didn’t disappoint – beating the favourite Coltrane to enter the history books as one of the most lightly-raced Gold Cup winners ever and also a final winning ride in the race for a certain Italian jockey.

So, having come out of the stalls like a 5f sprinter, the horse racing world will be eager to see what’s next for Wathnan Racing – what other horses they’ve got up their sleeve and might buy in the future.

From their opening three runners – they’ve bagged two winners and already won £522,702 in total prize money – wow!

Wathnan Racing Bolster Squad With Beshtani and Make Me A King At Arqana Autumn Sales 

The Wathnan Racing cheque books were out again in November 2023 at the Arqana Autumn Sales in Chantilly as the up-and-coming owners purchased Beshtani and Make Me A King.

Richard Brown, Wathnan’s chief scout, was giving the telephone orders from Ireland with Stuart Boman in France to get the deal over the line.

Make Me A King cost €380,000 and has already tasted victory at Listed level and been placed in the Group 3 Prix Thomas Byron over 1m as a 2 year-old for top French yard Andre Fabre.

Beshtani was the next big-money buy at €340,000. This former Aga Khan horse actually beat Make Me A King at Chantilly in October 2023 by just a short-neck in the Prix de Montleveque. So the pair are very closely-matched.

The two horses are expected to be heading to Qatar to race first, but there is every chance they will be seen in some top races in Europe during 2024 too.

After the purchases Brown told the Racing Post.

“They’ve both been bought for Wathnan and they are both going to go to Qatar, When the catalogue came out I sent those numbers and profiles over to Olly Tait straight away and he spoke to the team in Qatar. Both horses ticked the boxes for what we’re looking for for Qatar.”

“Obviously their form ties in very closely. Stu was there and gave me good reports and full videos, and we’re delighted to get them both.”

WATCH: Frankie Dettori and Wathnan Racing Winning The 2023 Ascot Gold Cup

Who Is The Emir Of Qatar?

The Emir Of Qatar – Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani – is the head of state and monarch, plus is also the commander-in-chief of their armed forces. In short, he’s a very powerful figure in Qatar and the world in general.

Qatar’s ruling family are also no strangers to the world of horse racing as certain members are already owner-breeders – the Emir’s brother Sheikh Joaan is the head of Al Shaqab Racing and also involved in major sponsorship of the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe fixture in France.

Uncle Shiekh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thai, who was in the Royal Ascot procession on Gold Cup day, is an owner-breeder too, like his son Sheikh Fahad – the main behind Qatar Racing and with his brothers the backers of the QIPCO British Champions Day Series.

Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir Of Qatar, is also the owner of top French football side Paris St-Germain (PSG).

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