However, everything quickly reverted to normal and the wins occurred with wonderful regularity. At this point the new Aga Khan pondered whether, given the institutional responsibilities thrust upon him three years earlier by the death of his grandfather, he should continue his family’s five-generation tradition of thoroughbred racing and breeding.
Within a period of little more than two months, Charlottesville won the Prix du Jockey Club and the Grand Prix de Paris; Sheshoon won the Ascot Gold Cup and the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud; Petite Etoile won the Coronation Cup; and Venture VII won the St. James’s Palace Stakes and Sussex Stakes. Charlottesville, who had been bred in County Kildare, was the first French Derby winner bred outside of France. Capping a marvelous first season, the young Aga Khan headed the list of leading French owners with 47 victories and 1,187,810 francs in prize money.
In this fashion it was the horses that made the decision for him. Over the next 16 years the Aga Khan trained exclusively in France with François Mathet taking over control of the stable from Alec Head in 1964. During this period the numbers of horses in training ranged from 54 to 94. In those early years, His Highness had a number of very fast horses including Silver Shark whose eight Group race victories included (at 2 years) the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp and the Prix du Petit Couvert. In both instances he took on and beat older horses over five furlongs.