Aga Khan Pays Tribute to Zarkava at the 2008 Cartier Racing Awards 18/11/08
The Aga Khan last night (Monday, November 17) elaborated on why Zarkava meant so much to him when collecting the filly’s prizes as Cartier Horse Of The Year and Cartier Champion Three-Year-Old Filly at the 2008 Cartier Racing Awards in London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane.
The daughter of Zamindar was unbeaten in seven starts, culminating in a brilliant Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victory last month, and the Aga Khan revealed that the filly’s great, great grand dam had been named after his daughter Princess Zahra, who also attended the 2008 Cartier Awards.
“I would like to thank Cartier for the prize that has been given to Zarkava and just share with you what she means to me,” he said when accepting the Cartier Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Award.
“When my father was killed, there was a filly in training called Petite Etoile. She was my first Classic contact with racing. She was trained here in England by Noel Murless and ridden by Lester Piggott. She only had one daughter at stud, by Habitat, and I love my daughter so I called that filly by the name of my daughter, Zahra, and this family has continued to produce exceptional fillies through to this day.
“So Zarkava goes back to my grandfather’s time, to my father’s time and the family carries the name of my daughter and so she is very special and I think very exceptional. Sometimes we are associated with fast ladies and this is a case when I am very happy to be associated with a fast lady!”
After collecting the Cartier Horse Of The Year Award, the Aga Khan added: “Thank you very much for the honour and I have to mention my daughter. She bred Mandesha and she bred Darjina and she will probably be putting her father back out to the field!
“I want to say that, as a traditional breeder, Zarkava is probably the greatest reward that any breeder could ever have. If you are in this industry and you like breeding and not only racing this is the greatest, greatest reward that any owner could have because whether we admit it or not - and men can be kind of macho - we depend on the ladies in this game. They are the ones who produce the winners. And some of them we try to make faster than others.”
Pennsylvania-based George Strawbridge was also among the 300 invited guests at the glittering Cartier Racing Awards on November 17 and he collected the Cartier Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Award for his home-bred Rainbow View.
He said: “The reason I don’t have a piece of paper is because I have been given separate pieces of paper by John Gosden and his wife Rachel - they say the opposite! They are so worried - one about what I am going to say and the other about what I am not going to say. I will just say what I feel and what I think.
“This is a huge honour and it is the most prestigious award I’ve ever, ever received,” continued Strawbridge. “It is prestigious because of the rather famous name. Cartier, thank you so much. It is also prestigious because this is the most difficult competition in the world and to receive an award like that when there are so many good animals, so many good trainers and riders, and so many generous owners, is outstanding.
“But obviously I’m especially proud of this filly, who is without a doubt the most brilliant thing I’ve ever bred and I have to thank (John) Gosden but I really want to thank (jockey) Jimmy Fortune. He never once took this filly as seriously as she took herself and absolutely did his best to relax her and say ‘this is not that serious and you needn’t be so wound up’. He’s not only a brilliant rider but a brilliant horseman so I thank him from the bottom of my heart. Finally people ask me how did I breed such a wonderful animal and I can only think of an old friend’s expression ‘every now and then a blind pig finds an acorn!’.”
The Coolmore team also had a good evening with Yeats winning an amazing third consecutive Cartier Champion Stayer Award, Mastercraftsman taking the Cartier Champion Two-Year-Old Colt Award and Duke Of Marmalade landing the Cartier Champion Older Horse Award.
David Nagle, who jointly owns and bred Yeats, collected the prize won by the seven-year-old and confirmed the horse would be staying in training next year.
“On behalf of John and Sue Magnier, (my wife) Diane and myself, thank you Cartier. It’s a great honour to win this prestigious award. To win it once is a great honour, but to do it three years in succession is awesome for us all,” said Nagle.
“Being in the horse business, it means so much to have a horse of the calibre of Yeats and to win the Gold Cup, a race with so much history. It’s wonderful to be associated with such a horse. All credit must go to Aidan O’Brien and his team in Ballydoyle and Johnny Murtagh. What a job they have done to keep this horse sound and sweet for five or six years.
“Rumour has it that Yeats has been trying to duck through the gate at Ballydoyle and head for Coolmore, but we hope that Aidan will keep him sweet and get his mind on the racecourse for one more season! We would truly love to line up one more time in the Gold Cup. Thank you all very much.”
Paul Smith, whose father Derrick jointly owns Mastercraftsman, collected the colt’s prize: “John Magnier, Michael Tabor and my father are extremely proud of Mastercraftsman. But they recognise that as a racehorse, whatever his name implies, he is still just a brilliant apprentice.
“The real master craftsmen in this story so far are trainer Aidan O’Brien and his team at Ballydoyle and of course jockey Johnny Murtagh. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to this formidable team for their perfect handling of the horse.
“Also, on behalf of the aforementioned owners, I would like to pass on my sincere thanks to Cartier for setting up and so generously sustaining these wonderful awards. They measure and reward excellency in racing so well. The recipients of this award are certainly honoured to be part of such an enjoyable and uplifting occasion.”
Johnny Murtagh collected Duke Of Marmalade’s award along with JP Magnier, son of John & Sue Magnier, and the rider said: “Not many jockeys are lucky enough to stand up on this stage and it is a wonderful night, great awards.
“It has been a huge privilege for me to ride the horses and I would like to thank John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith and their families for all the support they gave me - they didn’t tie me down to any instructions and they said ‘you talk a good game, let’s see what you are made of’. Thankfully, it worked out well for me this year. We have a lot of nice horses for next year so hopefully we will be here again in 2009. Thank you very much.”
JP Magnier added: “On behalf of my parents, I would like to thank Cartier for another great evening. I would also like to thank Aidan (O’Brien) and all the team at Ballydoyle and of course the man beside me.”
Sheikh Mohammed was presented with the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award Of Merit by Cartier UK’s Managing Director, Arnaud Bamberger, in Dubai last week.
He commented: “I am delighted by this award. I love racing and breeding. We race not only in England and Europe as Godolphin is all round the world. I am very, very pleased with my racing company and my breeding operation.
“I love racing and I will always be involved in the sport. Thank you very much.”
The ruler of Dubai’s wife Princess Haya of Jordan, received the Cartier Champion Three-Year-Old Colt Award for the exploits of New Approach, including winning the Vodafone Derby at Epsom. It was the Jim Bolger-trained horse’s second consecutive Cartier Racing Award after gaining the Two-Year-Old Colt accolade in 2007.
“I’m really honoured and grateful for receiving this trophy,” said the Princess. “It’s wonderful to be associated with a horse like this and it’s all thanks to my husband Sheikh Mohammed.
“What’s made it all the more special for us is how kind people have been such as you and the people of England. They have participated in every stride that he took. It’s been a dream of a year so far and I can’t tell you how grateful I am. Thank you so much.”
The Freddie Head-trained Marchand D’Or gained the Cartier Champion Sprinter Award and his owner-breeder Carla Giral collected the prize from Arnaud Bamberger.
“I just want to thank everybody. I am very happy and honoured to be here for this award. Thank you very much,” said Giral.
The eight horse awards were decided by a tried and tested combination of points achieved in Pattern races (40 per cent), the views of racing journalists chaired by Brough Scott on Cartier’s Racing Panel (40 per cent), and votes from readers of Racing Post and The Daily Telegraph (20 per cent).
The invited audience at the 2008 Cartier Racing Awards consisted of leading owners, trainers, jockeys, breeders, racing personalities and media.
The Cartier Racing Awards, horseracing’s equivalent of the Oscars, are recognised as the most prestigious within European horseracing and were established in 1991 to honour excellence in the racehorse.
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