Today His Highness not only retains his major breeding operation in County Kildare, but also has a strong team of horses that go into training each year with John Oxx at The Curragh and Michael Halford in Kildare Town It was a small measure of compensation for Shergar’s death that within five years Sir Michael Stoute saddled a second dual Derby winner, Shahrastani. In 1988 the Aga Khan’s Kahyasi, became his third Epsom/Irish Derby winner and Sinndar completed an amazing four-timer of dual Derby winners in 2000.
Shahrastani’s pair of Derby wins was achieved in contrasting style. Like Shergar, he started his three-year-old season with an impressive win in the Classic Trial at Sandown. However, jockeyship played its part at Epsom - where Swinburn had him up with the pace and then made full use of his stamina to drive clear. He held on by half a length from the late burst of Dancing Brave who was in a near hopeless position at Tattenham Corner. The Curragh was just the sort of galloping track that suited Shahrastani and he eventually left the King Edward VII Stakes winner Bonhomie trailing eight lengths behind.
Shahrastani’s fifth dam Pale Ale had been an inexpensive yet inspired 770 guineas purchase at the December Sales. She was thirteen years old and had not previously shone at stud. Nevertheless Prince Aly Khan saw merit where no one else did and in return she bred for him the King Edward VII Stakes winner Skyraider and the Irish Oaks winner Amante.
For the 1988 Derby, the Aga Khan was double-handed and his two runners Doyoun and Kahyasi were the only starters with unbeaten records going into the race. Doyoun, the 2,000 Guineas winner, was bred from Dumka who won the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches in 1974. She was purchased by the Aga Khan for 60,000 guineas in 1974 at the Newmarket December Sales. Doyoun traces back to Major Lionel Holliday’s foundation mare Lost Soul. When His Highness acquired the Holliday stock at the end of the 1980’s, he thereby reinforced the presence in his stud of the Lost Soul family.
Doyoun at 9 to 1 was the shorter priced of the Aga Khan pair. However, those who put their faith in the superior staying power of Kahyasi, also well backed at 11 to 1, were rewarded when Ray Cochrane challenged up the centre of the course to beat Glacial Storm by one and a half lengths. Doyoun was the same distance away 3rd. It should be noted that Kahyasi wore the famous green and brown hooped silks of the Aga Khan’s grandfather to victory. These historic silks are used when the present Aga Khan has two fancied runners in the same Group One race in England or Ireland. It showed Kahyasi’s rare grit and determination when in the Irish Derby he delivered a Derby double after an epic battle in the last two furlongs with Insan that ended with a short-head win.
Finally, Sinndar is the most recent achiever of a Derby double, amongst the Aga Khan’s horses. On top of these two prestigious races, he beat Egyptband, Volvoreta and Montjeu in the 2000 edition of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, to become the only horse to date to hold these three races on his record!