Qatar operation Al-Shaqab cuts contract of Frankie Dettori in half

Franke Dettori will earn half as much as he previously did when riding for Sheikh Joaan. (Reuters)
Updated 30 January 2018
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Qatar operation Al-Shaqab cuts contract of Frankie Dettori in half

LONDON: The Al-Shaqab Racing operation has come under further financial scrutiny after news emerged that it has halved the contract of its leading jockey.
According to The Times, three-time Champion jockey Frankie Dettori has had his six-figure contract with Al-Shaqab reduced by 50 percent in a move that comes weeks after the same paper revealed the operation owed more than £1 million (US1.4 million) in unpaid fees to a number of Britain’s leading flat racing trainers. Al-Shaqab Racing, which runs a 170-horse operation, is fronted by Sheikh Joaan Al-Thani, the brother of the emir of Qatar.
Dettori joined Al-Shaqab in July 2013 after ending his 18-year association with the Godolphin stables, owned by Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, in October 2012. He was handed a six-figure contract by the Qataris to ride horses in Britain including Galileo Gold to English Guineas and Royal Ascot glory and Olympic Glory to the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes, but that has now been renegotiated after Al-Shaqab shifted much of its focus to France.
“They have reduced the number of horses by 50 percent in Britain and the contract makes allowance for that,” Peter Burrell, Dettori’s agent, told The Times. “It would be correct to say that (the retainer) was a substantial six-figure sum,” Burrell said.

News of Dettori’s revised one-year contract comes on the back of reports that Al-Shaqab owed more than £1 million in a backlog of unpaid invoices, including Dettori and a number of leading trainers. Al-Shaqab apologized to the trainers to whom it owed money when The Times broke the story, but the cash crisis is likely to be a source of embarrassment for Sheikh Joaan.
“It’s an unfortunate situation that has put us all in some difficulty,” one trainer told The Guardian. “Obviously there must be money. They’re one of the richest states in the world. I don’t know what the problem has been. I’ve had to ask my bank to extend the overdraft.”
Khalifa Al-Attiyah, the general manager and a close associate of Sheikh Joaan, blamed an organizational restructuring and an accounting review for the backlog in payments, denying it was because of Qatar’s diplomatic crisis.
“The blockade against Qatar had many consequences socially and politically but not for this situation,” he said. “This is purely an issue due to the financial review taking longer than expected time. We do apologize and it is not something we wanted to happen or take lightly. We are in the middle of restructuring the whole organization.” He said all invoices would be paid “in the coming weeks.”
The Times reports that only some have been paid in full while others have received partial amounts. One leading Newmarket trainer said that he had been paid about one third of what he was owed, which amounted to more than £200,000.
At the beginning of the month, when the cash-flow story was first published, Dettori was understood not to have been paid since August, The Times reported. It is not known whether that unpaid bill has since been settled.


Saudi Arabia step up their World Cup preparations by flying to Switzerland for training camp

Updated 20 May 2018
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Saudi Arabia step up their World Cup preparations by flying to Switzerland for training camp

  • Squad of 28 to be based in Zurich
  • Friendlies on the horizon against Italy and Peru

Juan Antonio Pizzi has taken a 28-man squad to Zurich for the final stage of the Green Falcons’ World Cup preparations.
The party flew out of Jeddah late last night and landed in Switzerland early this morning. There they will be joined by Fahad Al-Muwallad and Salem Al-Dawsari who will fly in from Spain after playing for Levante and Villarreal on Saturday night.
The three-week training camp in the Swiss resort town of Bad Ragaz gives Pizzi the chance to get stuck into some intense tactical and physical work with his players and decide which five players to leave out of his squad. He must whittle down his list down to 23 by June 4, which gives the players get two final chances to stake their claim for a seat on the plane in friendlies against Italy on May 28 and Peru on June 3. By the time they play Germany in Leverkusen on June 8, Pizzi will have named his party for the assignment in Russia.
Pizzi is clearly much nearer knowing who he will take as he has only made minor changes to the squad he named for the recent wins against Greece and Algeria.
Al-Ittihad goalkeeper Assaf Al-Qarni replaces his club teammate Fawaz Al-Qarni as the fourth stopper in the squad, as Pizzi looks settled on retaining Al-Ahli duo Yasser Al-Mosaileem and Mohammed Al-Owais in addition to Al-Hilal’s Abdullah Al-Mayouf. One of those four will fail to make the cut as no team takes four goalkeepers to the World Cup.
There were no changes in the backline where the former Chile boss is opting for harmony. Eight of the nine defenders called up ply their trade at Al-Hilal or Al-Ahli, while Al-Nassr’s Omar Hawsawi rounds off the selection. One defender might have to make way and Al-Hilal teammates Mohammad Jahfali and Ali Al-Bulayhi could well find themselves vying for one spot on the plane to Moscow.
Abdullah Otayf and Taisir Al-Jassim look to be firm favorites to make the starting XI in the base of midfield, while the third central spot is up for grabs. Hussein Al-Moqahwi has regularly featured in that position, but Salman Al-Faraj’s return from a long injury saw him start both friendlies in the Spain training camp. Abdulmalik Al-Khaibari could emerge as the more conservative midfield enforcer against stronger sides.
The center of the pitch is where the most intense battle of positions will take place. As many as three midfielders could be left behind come June 4. Ibrahim Ghaleb has already been left out and he may be joined by Al-Shabab duo Hattan Bahebri and Abdulla Al-Khaibari. One of Mohammad Kanno and Mohammed Al Kuwaikbi could be the last man to be dropped in two weeks’ time.
Up front, Harun Kamara, a surprise call-up for the recent friendlies, failed to retain his spot in the squad so Mohannad Assiri and Mohammed Al-Sahlawi will battle it out for the sole striker position.

Squad
Goalkeepers: Mohammed Al-Owais, Yasser Al-Mosaileem (Al-Ahli); Abdullah Al-Mayouf (Al-Hilal); Assaf Al-Qarni (Al-Ittihad)
Defenders: Motaz Hawsawi, Saeed Al-Muwallad, Mansour Al-Harbi (Al-Ahli); Osama Hawsawi, Mohammed Jahfali, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Mohammed Al-Burayk, Yasser Al-Shahrani (Al-Hilal); Omar Hawsawi (Al-Nassr).
Midfielders: Abdullah Al-Khaibari, Hattan Bahebri (Al-Shabab); Abdulmalik Al-Khaibari, Abdulla Otayf, Salman Al-Faraj, Mohammed Kanno, Nawaf Al-Abid (Al-Hilal); Taisir Al-Jassim, Hussein Al-Moqahwi (Al-Ahli); Mohammed Al-Kuwaikbi (Al-Ettifaq); Salem Al-Dawsari (Villarreal); Fahad Al-Muwallad (Levante); Yahya Al-Shehri (Leganes)
Forwards: Mohammed Al-Sahlawi (Al-Nassr); Mohannad Assiri (Al-Ahli)