Yes [Zarkava] really is an exceptional filly in a very, very good year of race horses…. [H]er trainer, really had identified that quality very, very early on and that’s why he took the decision to run her from a maiden and go straight into a group 1 race.

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Interviewer: Marcus Armytage

[The Aga Khan] was speaking after he had collected the Horse of the Year and Three-Year-Old filly award for this year’s Arc de Triomphe winner from Arnauld Bamberger, managing director of Cartier UK, at the Cartier Awards in London. The awards ceremony, one of racing’s most glittering occasions, was attended by 300 guests from the world of racing, including Alex Pitchford, of London, who won the Daily Telegraph reader competition.

Marcus Armytage: Well Your Highness, what a fantastic night this has been and what a remarkable season for a fabulous filly, Zarkava.

His Highness the Aga Khan: Yes she really is an exceptional filly in a very, very good year of race horses.

AM: How long ago did you know that she was something quite exceptional?

AK: Alan d’Waier [?], her trainer, really had identified that quality very, very early on and that’s why he took the decision to run her from a maiden and go straight into a group 1 race.

AM: Now you said tonight that how special she is. Not only does she trace from Petit e Toir [?], which is the family’s great mare, but she also carries part of the name of your daughter.

AK: Yes, Petit e Toir [?], when she went to stud, only had one daughter and I named that filly after Zahra. And Zahra had a good race career and went to stud and had a large number of black type [?] winning fillies.

AM: I’m sure. Princess Zahra, you are part of your father’s team as far as organising the matings and looking at the breeding of all these horses and you were part of this mating with Zamindar who was a sire of Zarkava. Why Zamindar? Of all horses why Zamindar?

Princess Zahra: The paper with her mother was very, very nice. He makes really lovely pedigrees with our horses, and the final decision always rests with His Highness, but in this case it was I think the combination of inherent speed, ability on the race course, a nice physical horse — Zamindar is a very nice horse — and a family that was tending to produce very fast horses. I mean Zarkia was a very fast filly. So it was bring speed to speed. But I think dad’s decision ultimately led us to this wonderful horse.

AM: Well it’s been a remarkable success story. But I must ask you one thing. Now when I was reporting for the Daily Telegraph, after the Valmay [?], you said to me “I know what went wrong.” Now that filly was lying on the side of the gate, she was reluctant to start, you said to me “I think I know what went wrong.” Can you tell Daily Telegraph readers exactly what that was?

AK: (Chuckles) I think what actually happened was that they had wanted to encourage this filly to leave in a state of relaxation from the gates and not to be tied up as from the beginning of the race. Secondly, I think that she had in a sense matured and therefore was not as quick as she would have been as a 2 year old into her pace. And one of the basic premises we worked with, was not to put her out of her pace at any time in the race.

AM: But in the Arc, when she came out of the gate … I mean your heart must have been in your mouth when saw her … she almost whipped around through the tape [?].

AK: Yes that’s true. The Arc was a pretty difficult situation to watch, the Valmay [?] was even more difficult.

AM: Congratulations to you tonight and to you Princess Zahra. It’s been a magnificent success.

AK: Thank you very much indeed.

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