His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of UAE and the Ruler of Dubai has stunned Australia's racing industry with his purchase of one of the country's biggest breeding and racing operations.
Sheikh Mohammed, already one of the world's biggest owners of race horses, has offered about $418 million to buy Bob Ingham's Woodlands Stud, The Sydney Morning Herald said.
A spokesman for Sheikh Mohammed's Australian thoroughbred operation Darley, would not comment on the purchase price, saying it was a private transaction subject to commercial confidence.
The deal, which must be approved by Australia's foreign investment watchdog, will see Darley acquire Ingham's racing stables in Sydney and Melbourne along with two studs, two pre-training complexes and more than 1,000 horses.
Bob Ingham, who founded his fortune on a chicken meat business with his late brother, said he had not been contemplating the sale of his bloodstock business until Sheikh Mohammed made his offer.
"Once approached by Darley, I decided it was an opportunity that I should accept," he said in a joint statement with the Dubai ruler.
"The sale is on a 'walk-in, walk-out' basis. I will, however, be keeping our racing colours and will continue to race horses."
The deal came as a surprise to the Australian racing industry in which Bob Ingham has been a key player for some 40 years.
Sheikh Mohammed's global thoroughbred breeding operation has stud farms in Britain, Ireland, the US, Japan and Australia and the Dubai leader said he was delighted with his increased involvement in racing Down Under.
"I have long admired the love Australians have for the horse and for racing," he said.
"The Ingham family have made a significant contribution to Australian racing and to the thoroughbred and I am looking forward to building on their success."
The move comes just a few days before the Dubai World Cup (last year's race pictured above), one of the biggest sporting events on the racing calendar. (AFP)
Sheikh Mohammed buys Australian stables