Zarkava’s victory at Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp (Paris, France)
My family has been breeding racehorses for five generations. Two generations in India and three in Europe, and I believe this moment is the apogee of that effort.
This is one of the most important moments in my life. I’m not just a racehorse owner and breeder, I have many other responsibilities, but in the racing world, with all that my family has done, I really feel this is one of the most important times we have lived through.
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The Aga Khan spoke of history and heritage after Zarkava’s outstanding victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe here yesterday, of the five generations of his family, in India and Europe, who had worked towards this moment of triumph. The course announcer was more direct. “Quelle pouliche!”, he shouted, as the crowd streamed back towards the winner’s enclosure. “Quelle pouliche! Extraordinaire!”
What a filly indeed. Zarkava tore through the field in the final two furlongs to finish two lengths clear of Youmzain, and she was worth every inch and more. She is now unbeaten after seven races, including five at Group One level, and the sole cause for regret is that she seems unlikely to race on any further….
Unbeaten Arc winners are a rarity, as are three-year-old fillies with the talent to beat both the colts and the best from earlier generations. Put the two together and you have an irresistible package, but one that the Aga is likely to remove to the paddocks without further ado. Zarkava will not be travelling to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup later this month and, while she is 3-1 with Hill’s for next year’s Arc, she must be at least twice that price to see a racecourse again.
My family has been breeding racehorses for five generations. Two generations in India and three in Europe, and I believe this moment is the apogee of that effort. This is one of the most important moments in my life. I’m not just a racehorse owner and breeder, I have many other responsibilities, but in the racing world, with all that my family has done, I really feel this is one of the most important times we have lived through.
We were worried about the draw [in stall one, on the inside] and we didn’t give any instructions to Christophe, because when you have a draw like that you have to leave it up to the jockey, and he knows the filly. No decision has been made yet concerning her future career, but she will not run in the Breeders’ Cup.
… Soumillon, a crowd-pleaser both in the race and afterwards, seemed to enjoy his second victory in the Arc even more than the first, on Dalakhani five years ago….
Zarkava’s racing career may well be history now, but the memory of her perfect record, and yesterday’s victory in particular, will endure. Quelle pouliche.
As the superlatives flow for Zarkava, comparisons will inevitably be made with the great fillies of the modern era. She is the first filly since Allez France to win the French 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and Prix Vermeille in the same season, and she has trumped the Wildenstein legend by winning the Arc as a three-year-old. Allez France returned to win the race the following year, having finished second to Rheingold in the 1973 Arc.
It will be a shame if we have seen the last of Zarkava, but it seems unlikely such a prized addition to the Aga Khan’s huge bloodstock operation will be risked again. Brilliant but with a hint of temperament, Zarkava has never been tested outside France.
The Aga Khan agreed it was a special day, saying: “There have been many other important moments in my life but in the racing world this is one of the most important.”
- Guardian, 6 October 2008,
- Daily Mail, 6 October 2008,
POSSIBLY RELATED READINGS (GENERATED AUTOMATICALLY)
- Acceptance Address – Cartier Racing Awards’ Horse of the Year for Zarkava (London, United Kingdom) ·· (17 November 2008)
- Telegraph Interview after accepting the Horse of the Award for Zarkava at the Cartier Racing Awards, Marcus Armytage (London, United Kingdom) ·· (17 November 2008)
- Dalakhani’s victory at Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp (Paris, France) ·· (5 October 2003)
- Le Parisien Interview, Gilles Maarek, ‘Chantilly est un géant qui se réveille’ (Paris, France) ·· (17 June 2012)
- Alamshar’s Irish Derby and Ascot Victories (United Kingdom) ·· (26 June 2003)