Omar Sharif's passion for horse racing

Published July 12th, 2015 - 12:31 GMT
Picture courtesy: paris-turf
Picture courtesy: paris-turf

Iconic actor Omar Sharif, who passed away on Friday at the age of 83, was also a keen patron of the turf who enjoyed several notable wins with a horse named Don Bosco.

The Egyptian-born legend’s pink and black hooped silks were frequently seen at French racecourses for close to 50 years, while his stable flag-bearer won 11 races between 2010 and 2015 including three Group races, the Prix De Muguet and Prix Perth at Saint-cloud and Prix Gontaut-Biron at Deauville.

Don Bosco was sired by European Horse of the Year Barathea, who was owned by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Now an eight-year-old, Don Bosco was recently seen in action on June 29 at Nantes, where he was narrowly beaten to third place in the Listed Grand Prix Anjou Bretagne.

Veteran French trainer David Smaga was a longtime friend and collaborator with Sharif.

“I knew him from the days when I was in Egypt and we had a friendship which lasted down through the years,” Smaga said on Friday in the Racing Post.

“He loved those victories with Don Bosco and he really came alive when he went racing. Before Don Bosco we had a filly called Lixirova who won the Prix Miesque. When his horses won there was always a celebration.

“I had the opportunity to try and walk down the street with him in Egypt and the crowds around him were too great, it was just impossible!”

After Don Bosco won the Group 3 Prix de Gontaut-Biron, Sharif was quoted saying: “This is fantastic because I don’t have many horses and I’m especially happy because this horse often stops when he gets near the finish, so it was a great surprise to see him run to the line like that.”

Sharif gained international fame thanks to his leading roles in the David Lean Oscar-winning classics Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago.

Also well known for his regular tipping column in a Parisian racing magazine, he once famously proclaimed: “Every time I lost, I went out and made another film.”

Sharif who was reported to be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease since May 2015, is survived by his son Tarek Al Sharif.

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