Chicken king sells Australia’s biggest racing empire to Dubai sheikh

  • Woodlands Stud: $460 million sale.


Patrick Bartley
March 25, 2008

AUSTRALIAN racing’s most lavish supporter, Bob Ingham, has sold his vast Woodlands Stud operation to the ruler of Dubai for more than $460 million.

The deal will result in global thoroughbred giant Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s Darley Stud dominating the breeding and racing of thoroughbreds in Australia after it adds Woodlands’ 1000 horses, two studs, a pre-training farm and racing stables in Sydney and Melbourne to its operation.

Ingham and his late brother, Jack, established Inghams Enterprises, which employs around 7000 people, mostly in its poultry business.

The brothers built the biggest racing and breeding operation in Australia through investments including the showpiece Woodlands Stud in the NSW Hunter Valley and a state-of-the art training complex at Warwick Farm in south-west Sydney.

The stunning deal, described by Ingham as “a win-win for all parties”, is subject to approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board. A decision is expected within three weeks.

The sale includes everything involved in running the business, with Ingham retaining only the family’s famous cerise racing silks.

Included among the thoroughbred stock are Ingham’s former champion gallopers Octagonal and Lonhro, which both stand at Woodlands Stud, along with a bevy of current racing stock including Golden Slipper winner Forensics.

Another Ingham racehorse in training is Musket, a three-quarter brother to three-time Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva.

Musket was bought by Ingham for a then record $2.5 million.

Sheikh Mohammed is the world’s biggest owner of thoroughbreds, which he races under the Godolphin banner.

“The sale of the bloodstock business was not something I was contemplating,” Ingham said yesterday in a joint statement with Sheikh Mohammed.

“Once approached by Darley, I decided it was an opportunity that I should accept.

“The sale is on a ‘walk- in, walk-out’ basis. I will, however, be keeping our racing colours and will continue to race horses.”

Sheikh Mohammed’s team has spent the past two weeks inspecting the Woodlands Stud operation and will now have two studs in the Hunter Valley along with one in Victoria and the Inghams’ Cootamundra farm.

“I have long admired the love Australians have for the horse and for racing,” Sheikh Mohammed said in the statement.

“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. I am delighted to be making this commitment.”

Bob and Jack Ingham made a $1 billion fortune from turning a nondescript chicken farm in Sydney’s south into an Australian success story.


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