Foaled on April 15, 1988, Sheikh Albadou was a son of Green Desert, who was a good miler, but a better sprinter, as he demonstrated when winning the July Cup at Newmarket in 1986. Bred by Highclere Stud, owned by Hilal Salem and trained by the late Alex Scott at Oak Farm Stables in Newmarket, Sheik Albadou was given a low-key introduction to racing in a maiden stakes race, over 6 furlongs, on the Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket in October 1990. Ridden by Pat Eddery, he was sent off 11/2 co-second favourite but, after a slow start, weakened in the closing stages to finish eighth of 11, beaten 7 lengths. However, after a 192-day break, he made his three-year-old debut in a similar race at Pontefract where ridden by Bruce Raymond, he started favourite, at 13/8, and won very easily, by 7 lengths.
Sheikh Albadou was stepped up to 7 furlongs for his handicap debut at York, in May, but failed by a short head to concede 14lb to the more experienced Rocton North. Nevertheless, back over 6 furlongs on the Knavesmire the following month, off a 3lb higher mark, he easily won a similar race by 4 lengths.
Thereafter, Sheikh Albadou was campaigned, exclusively in Pattern company and, although he was beaten favourite on his first attempt in that sphere, in the Criterion Stakes, over 7 furlongs, on the July Course at Newmarket in late June, he soon established himself as the leading European sprinter of his generation.
After a 54-day break, he was stepped up to Group One company for the first time, in the Nunthorpe Stakes, over 5 furlongs, at York. Despite tackling the minimum trip for the first time in his career, Sheikh Albadou was sent off 6/1 third favourite, behind French raider Divine Danse – who was chasing a hat-trick after two impressive wins at Group Three and Group Two level in his native country – at 2/1, and King’s Stand Stakes winner Elbio, at 11/4.
In any event, it was the fast, precocious juvenile, Paris House, trained by Jack Berry, who gave Sheikh Albadou. In receipt of a colossal 21lb weight-for-age allowance, Paris House took the lead after a furlong-and-a-half and soon had most of her rivals at full stretch. However, Pat Eddery was always close up on Sheikh Albadou and produced him, under a determined drive, to tackle the long-time leader close home and win by 1½ lengths. Outsider Blyton Lad, at 40/1, finished third, a further neck away, with a long-looking 2 lengths back to the remainder, headed by Divine Danse.
Sheikh Albadou subsequently finished second, under Bruce Raymond, in the Ladbroke Sprint Cup at Haydock and the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp, before heading across the Atlantic for the final start of his three-year-old campaign, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Reunited with Pat Eddery, but racing for the first time on a dirt surface, Sheikh Albadou was sent off a relatively unconsidered 26/1 outsider in the 11-strong field, behind red-hot favourite Housebuster, at 2/5. However, he took to dirt like an old hand, clearing away from the best sprinters in North America in the closing stages to win easily by 3 lengths. Sheikh Albadou was, unsurprisingly, named Champion Sprinter at the Cartier Awards in 1991.