Success Breeds Success – The Aga Khan’s legacy continues in the Sport of Kings.
With this fifth victory in the Epsom Derby, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan broke a new record by becoming the owner and breeder of five Derby winners.
“Winning the Derby is a goal for any owner. It has been for centuries. This is a great race with a great history … It’s been that way for three generations of my family.
This is a major gift for everybody who works with me in this wonderful activity. To win a fifth Derby for the family is obviously very historic.”
– His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan
EPSOM, ENGLAND – June 4, 2016.
Harzand overcame a pre-race scare to win the English Derby for owner the Aga Khan on Saturday, holding off fast-finishing favorite US Army Ranger for a length-and-a-half victory in Britain’s richest horse race.
The horse’s owner, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, a close personal friend of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, also received a prize along with trainer Dermot Weld. Dressed in a cornflower blue and white outfit, the great-grandmother was cheered by the 100,000-strong crowd as she presented the trophies in the Winner’s Circle. For more than six decades, the biggest prize in British racing has eluded Her Majesty despite 10 failed attempts to be first past the finishing post.
Harzand is the fifth Epsom Derby winner for the Aga Khan, joining Shergar, 1981; Shahrastani, 1987; Kahyasi, 1988; and Sinndar, 2000. Shergar still holds the record of the widest winning margin of 10 lengths. All four winners went on to win the Irish Derby, the same is expected of Harzand.
The result pays homage to the world class breeding operation the Aga Khan has established. He buys the best, breeds only from the best, uses the best trainers and the best jockeys, enabling him to compete with the very best in the world successfully and consistently.
For the Aga Khan it extended a tradition started by his grandfather in 1930. Blenhem was the first of five Derby winners for the current Aga’s predecessor and was followed by Bahram (1935), Mahmoud (1936), My Love (1948) and Tulyar in 1952.
A son of Sea The Stars, the brilliant 2009 Derby winner, Harzand showed the Aga Khan’s team to be as skilled as ever at breeding champions. There will always be a shiver, though, when we recall that the most aristocratic of the owner’s five Derby winners was Shergar.
Harzand had spread a plate – which means the special shoe a horse wears for racing had become detached from the horse’s hoof – in transit to Epsom, and his involvement in the race was in question.
“He was pretty unlikely to run after what happened,” said Weld, who had won the Epsom Oaks in 1981 with Blue Wind.
“When he came over, he just stood on himself. Racing plates are very light and unfortunately he pulled one off. By doing this, he just drew blood as well so his foot was very sore.
“I’ve got excellent staff and immediately old-fashioned treatment came in. We poulticed him and then, when he got to Epsom in the morning, he was very sore.
“So we treated him again and I was happy then that we’d drawn anything we had wanted to out of the foot. We then put him in ice for four hours. He hadn’t damaged the plate – it was clean and hadn’t buckled at all.
“We took him out then as His Highness (the Aga Khan – the owner) was due to leave at 2.20pm to come to Epsom. The shoe was tacked on at 1.55pm and I was happy when he jogged with the track vet and he was perfectly sound.
“I called His Highness and away he came. We put his foot back in a bucket of ice for the next couple of hours and I stayed with him. We came down and saddled him later, which was the next test, and he jogged out perfectly sound.
It is a fantastic contrast between what is and what might have been, as there was very little sign of the drama behind the scenes by the time Harzand passed the winning post by one-and-a-half lengths from US Army Ranger.
And Weld said: “It’s very special to win this race. I think I’ve had 23 Classic winners in Europe. Blue Wind was my first when she won the Oaks many years ago.
“I’ve won a couple of Irish Derbys (with Zagreb in 1996 and Grey Swallow in 2004) but I’ve always obviously wanted to win this race.
“I’ve possibly never had a horse good enough to do it but today was the day.”
A win in the Derby is like the holy grail, the key that unlocks the door to a commodity market like no other – that of stallions and pedigree and the riches of the breeding world.
In the immediate aftermath of the race, connections confirmed, like Shergar and Sinndar, that Harzard would bid to land a Derby double in Ireland at the Curragh later this month.
- Aga Khan Studs | Harzand wins the Epsom Derby
- Bloodhorse | Harzand Gives Aga Khan Fifth Epsom Derby Win
- Cambridge News | Epsom Derby 2016: Harzand defies injury scare to land greatest prize in racing
- Liverpool Echo | Sport | Horse Racing | Harzand lives the ‘dream’ to win Derby for Aga Khan
- Paris Turf
- Racing Post | Famous Five: The Aga Khan’s Derby winners
- Racing Post | Harzand emulates his sire with Derby success
- The Guardian | Harzand wins Derby after Dermot Weld makes late call to run the colt
- The Northern Echo | Ryan Moore is one of the greats but he’ll have regrets over his Derby ride
- The Olympian | Sports | Harzand shrugs off pre-race scare, wins English Derby
- The Telegraph | Sport | Racing | Aga Khan maintain the family grip on one of the greatest prizes in racing
- Thoroughbred Daily News | Aga Khan Plays The Generation Game To Perfection
Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali