Group One Fillies

Any owner-breeder anxious to compete at the highest level will invariably take a special interest in the ability displayed on the racecourse by his future stock of broodmares.

In this sphere the Aga Khan and all those who work on his farms have plenty to cheer about. In France for instance he was the first to match the longstanding 20th century record of Edmond Blanc who in the years prior to the First World War had completed a hat-trick in the Prix de Diane. The Alain de Royer Dupré trained fillies who further delivered, after Shemaka’s victory in 1993: Vereva (1997), Zainta (1998) and Daryaba (1999). Of the trio the hardest tussle involved Zainta who brought an unblemished five race record to the race but it was only on the line that Gérald Mossé snatched a short-head decision over the flattering Abbatiale. It was an especially evocative victory as she posted the first Classic to be credited to the family that descends from the sparkling Petite Etoile, Prince Aly Khan’s racemare of outstanding quality. Twelve months on Daryaba’s situation was in its way still more stressful. At the pre-race Gala des Courses her owner received his award having been voted top owner of the last fifty years by a panel of judges assisted by votes cast by readers of two French racing publications. However not only did she come wide to win well by a length from Star Of Akkar but she carried on to become His Highness’s first filly to complete the rare Prix de Diane/Prix Vermeille double, the second having been earned by Zarkava, nine years later.

The previous year Zalaiyka had laid the first leg of a filly Classic double by winning the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches. At The Curragh John Oxx also had two star fillies in the shape of Timarida and Ebadiyla. The former was one of the great travellers of her sex who in the 1995 and 1996 seasons came out of the handicap ranks to win a splendid series of Group races. She finished up her three-year-old career with a hat trick from a mile to ten furlongs starting with the Matron Stakes at The Curragh and then heading to Longchamp on Arc day for the Prix de l’Opera before crossing the Atlantic to take the E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine. The sequel came in the International Classification when the handicappers gave her top spot amongst the middle distance fillies of her generation. A rarity amongst Aga Khan Group winning fillies, she was kept on in training at four and built upon her reputation as a globe-trotter by going to Germany to beat their best oldest horse, by name Germany, in the Preis Bayeriches Zuchtrennen at Munich and then to the United States where in the Beverly D Stakes she opened up a two and a half length lead at the line. Her third Group I win of the year was secured back on home ground in the Irish Champion Stakes where she quickened clear from a top-notch field that included the Derby winner Shaamit and the Irish Oaks winner Dance Design.

The following year the pick of the Oxx fillies was the record setting Ebadiyla who by winning the Irish Oaks at and the Prix Royal-Oak (the French St. Leger equivalent) became the first to complete this particular Classic double even though the history of both races goes back to the 19th century. The full significance of Ebadiyla’s double only became clear in subsequent seasons when firstly her half-sister Edabiya and then her half-brother Enzeli triumphed in the Moyglare Stud Stakes and the Ascot Gold Cup respectively. These were the first three foals produced by Ebaziya and the trio thereby claimed Group I status at distances from seven furlongs to two and a half miles.

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