Twitter Report: Princess Zahra Aga Khan at the 36th Asian Racing Conference, India

“We are proud and honoured to be associated with racing and breeding in India and around the world after so many years and so many generations, and we intend to continue this time-honoured tradition.”

My father, His Highness the Aga Khan, has maintained this family tradition for 55 years, winning an international total of 15 Derbies, 13 Guineas, 7 Prix de Diane, 4 Arcs – but not the Indian Oaks… yet!

“How have these families survived and flourished through 250 years and six generations of the Aga Khan family?

… How can we maintain and improve the genetic capital of the thoroughbred and expand the gene pool, rather than reducing it for short-term, profit-driven purposes?”

“Along with all the usual variables that we breeders look at such as conformation, distance aptitudes, character, physical fragilities, etc., we have an explicit policy of maintaining the genetic diversity of our broodmare band.”

“The answer may be a question of cycles. The “horse business” was much more patient in the past … Today, breeders and owners expect rapid returns from their investments but frankly…

In centuries to come, the thoroughbred would be better off possibly, if breeders concentrated on the horse, rather than the sale of the horse, and the stallion as a viable procreator, rather than as a source of profit.”

“The horse industry is an important part of the rural economy, employing millions of people around the world in areas of shrinking agricultural production. It supports farms and villages, it provides permanent, year-round employment to riders, lads, farriers, vets, farmers and businesses of all kinds.

As my father said, “You can look at the horse in human life — in agriculture, in war, or as a vehicle of exploration — for hundreds of years. When you think about it, the horse is one of the most extraordinary phenomena we have.” This industry preserves a species, and also an entire population that nurtures that species.”

“I may have given the impression that breeding plays a central role in my family’s activities, but in fact, for the Aga Khan family, it’s a “weekend job”, it’s a peripheral activity. As many people know, we spend 99% of our time working on development projects in Africa, and South and Central Asia … including here in India where our institutions have been present for more than a hundred years.

Nevertheless, I think that this “weekend job” is an important one, because it represents 250 years of family tradition, and it maintains ties with our Persian and Indian history.”

Complete keynote address available via Aga Khan Studs | Princess Zahra Aga Khan’s speech to the Asian Racing Conference

and also reproduced in its entirety at:

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Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali

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