zarkava and christophe soumillon

Christophe Soumillon celebrates aboard Zarkava after winning the 159th Prix de Diane
(AFP/Martin Bureau)

His Highness the Aga Khan yesterday decided to call time on the sparkling career of his G1 Prix de l’ Arc de Triomphe heroine Zarkava (Ire) (Zamindar-Zarkasha {Ire}, by Kahyasi {Ire}).

The Thoroughbred Daily News reports that following discussions with trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre and his management team, the owner-breeder ended speculation as to the unbeaten filly’s future.

“Whilst no one will regret more than my management team and I not to see Zarkava race again, as she is such a supreme athlete, we have decided to retire her to the Aga Khan broodmare band, as she will be an invaluable asset to this essential part of our activity,” he announced. “The quality and youth of our broodmare band is of the utmost importance to ensure we remain breeders of racehorses capable of performing at the top level. The Aga Khan Studs have produced three exceptional fillies in three consecutive years: Mandesha, Darjina and now Zarkava. Their addition to our broodmare band will enhance the economic value and the potential for success of future generations of Aga Khan bloodstock at a time when competition is becoming increasingly global.”

Zarkava’s comfortable two-length victory in Sunday’s Longchamp showcase was a fifth at the highest level, with the Prix Marcel Boussac, Poule d’ Essai des Pouliches, Prix de Diane and Prix Vermeille already in her portfolio. The Aga Khan paid tribute to the team which guided her to those successes yesterday. “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the people employed at my Irish and French studs for their remarkable work,” he added.

“Without their tireless dedication, we would not be able to breed and race champions like Zarkava, Sinndar, Azamour and Dalakhani. Furthermore Alain de Royer-Dupre, Christophe Soumillon and the staff at the Aiglemont Training Centre, must be applauded for their admirable work in producing Zarkava at the top of her form for all of her seven wonderful races.”

Zarkava, who is a descendant of the great Petite Etoile (GB), will be covered by the resident stallion Dalakhani (Ire) in 2009. He has garnered attention at stud as well as on the track, courtesy of his Classic-winning daughter Moonstone (GB) and son Conduit (Ire) from his first crop. De Royer-Dupre was quick to add his own testimonial to the filly he described as a “pearl” prior to his defeat of the subsequent dual Group 1-winning miler Goldikova (Ire) in the May 11 Pouliches.

“As a trainer, it is normal to feel some disappointment at her retirement,” he told PA Sport . “But I understand that it is important for the valuable continuation of the Aga Khan ’ s breeding operation. I always said her greatest quality was her acceleration. The ability to make up so much space in such a short space of time - like she showed in the Vermeille was incredible. It is not very often a horse like this comes along- - I have been very lucky. She is possibly the best I have trained, but Dalakhani was also a great horse to have. Zarkava has been a beautiful story.”

Zarkava retires with a perfect seven-for-seven record and earnings of Eur3,364,620. 

you tube linkWatch Zarkava winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 2008