The Mumtaz Mahal Legacy

From time to time the bloodstock sales ring takes on an electric atmosphere and the event itself becomes pure theatre.

It was on such an evening in 1922 that Mumtaz Mahal was bought by the Aga Khan. The price of 9,100 guineas was not a record but observers agreed that the spotted grey daughter of The Tetrarch was the most perfectly formed filly ever seen. Add an immaculate pedigree stemming from Americus Girl and the prospect of failure was out of the question. Yet even Mumtaz Mahal’s greatest admirers will agree that her successes on the track pale in comparison to the influence her descendants would exercise on racing and breeding in every major country.

Mumtaz Mahal’s first home trial was a legendary gallop. Richard Dawson asked her to give 28 lbs. to Friar’s Daughter, already a winner that season, and she won the gallop by half a furlong. "I was so astounded," said Dawson, "that I almost fell off my hack."

Despite one defeat in her first season, nothing could deny Mumtaz Mahal her place at the top of the Free Handicap. Looking back at the dynasty she founded, names that leap out include Mahmoud (Epsom Derby in record time); Nasrullah (Champion Stakes, champion sire in England and five times champion in the United States); Migoli (Champion Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe); Abernant (top of the 2.Y.O. Free Handicap); Ginetta (Poule d’Essai des Pouliches); Petite Etoile (1,000 Guineas, Oaks and Champion Stakes); Shergar (Epsom Derby, Irish Derby and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes); Oh So Sharp (1,000 Guineas, Oaks and St. Leger); Zainta (Prix de Diane, Prix Saint-Alary), Alborada (Champion Stakes twice); Khalkevi (Grand Prix de Paris), Zarkava (Prix Marcel Boussac, Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, Prix de Diane, Prix Vermeille, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe) Igugu (J&B Met, Durban July, Woolavington 2000, South Africa Fillies Classic) and French Fifteen (Critérium International, 2nd in the 2000 Guineas) as well as a host of Group and Stakes winners over all distances.

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