Bahram (horse)

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DamFriar's Daughter
DamsireFriar Marcus
BreederHH Aga Khan III
OwnerHH Aga Khan III
TrainerFrank Butters
Record9: 9-0-0
Major wins
National Breeder's Produce Stakes (1934)
Rous Memorial Stakes (1934)
Gimcrack Stakes (1934)
Middle Park Stakes (1934)
2000 Guineas (1935)
Epsom Derby (1935)
St. Leger Stakes (1935)
St. James's Palace Stakes (1935)
14th U.K. Triple Crown Champion (1935)

Bahram (1932–1956) was an Irish-bred, English-trained Thoroughbred racehorse. In a career which lasted from July 1934 until September 1935 he was undefeated in nine races. The leading British two-year-old of 1934, he went on to take the Triple Crown in 1935 by winning the 2000 Guineas Stakes, Epsom Derby and St. Leger Stakes. He was retired to stud at the end of the year. After a promising start to his stud career in Britain he was exported to the United States, where he had moderate success before being exported again to Argentina.


Bahram was a bay horse with a white star and strip[2] foaled at the HH Aga Khan III's stud farm on The Curragh, Ireland. He was by the highly successful stallion Blandford, who sired four Derby winners and was British Champion sire on three occasions.[3] His dam, Friar’s Daughter, was inbred to St Simon in the third and fourth generations. Friar’s Daughter won one small race, but was a good broodmare who produced eleven winners of over £58,000'[4] including Dastur,[5] who finished runner-up in all three legs of the Triple Crown in 1932. Bahram stood 16.2 hands high, had a good temperament, and was described by equine experts as having flawless conformation.[6] The Aga Khan originally registered the colt as "Bahman"[7] but renamed him in honour of his cousin, who was killed in the torpedoing of the SS Sussex in 1916.[8] Bahram was trained by Frank Butters for the Aga Khan at Newmarket in England. His regular rider was the veteran jockey Frederick Fox (1888–1945).[9]

Racing career[edit]

1934: two-year-old season[edit]

Bahram made his debut in the valuable National Breeders Produce Stakes at Sandown Park Racecourse in July for which he started a 20/1 outsider. He won by a neck from his more fancied stable companion Theft, who had won the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot in a result which reportedly stunned the crowd.[10] Later in July, Bahram won the Rous Memorial Stakes at Goodwood before being sent to York for the Gimcrack Stakes in which he ran lazily and had to be driven out[11] to win by a length from Consequential.[12]

In the autumn he was sent to Newmarket where he won the Boscawen Stakes before contesting the Middle Park Stakes, one of the year's most prestigious races for juveniles, which he won in a record time of 1:11.2. In the Free Handicap, a rating of the season's best two-year-olds, Bahram was awarded top weight of 133 pounds, a pound ahead of his stable companions Theft and Hairan.[7][13]

1935: three-year-old season[edit]

The Aga Khan in 1936

By the spring of 1935 Bahram had grown into a handsome, impressive horse with a placid, lazy temperament.[2] He missed an intended run at Newmarket's Craven meeting in April and made his first appearance of the season in the 2000 Guineas. Ridden by Freddie Fox he started at odds of 7/2 in a field of sixteen runners. He won "comfortably"[14] by one and a half lengths from Theft, with Sea Bequest two lengths away in third.

A month after his win at Newmarket, Bahram started 5/4 favourite for the Derby at Epsom. The race was run in bright sunshine, despite previous heavy rain, and was attended by a crowd estimated at 500,000 including King George V who was celebrating his Silver Jubilee.[8] Bahram was towards the rear of the field in the early stages but was always travelling well. Fox moved him up to third place at Tattenham corner before accelerating into the lead early in the straight.[15] He won very comfortably by two lengths from Robin Goodfellow and Field Trial, with Theft in fourth.[16] Later in June, Bahram started at odds of 1/8 in the St. James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and won from Portfolio. In August, Bahram's training was delayed by the "coughing epidemic" which struck many British stables in late summer.[17]

At Doncaster in September, Bahram started 4/11 favourite for the St. Leger Stakes in his bid to become the first winner of the traditional Triple Crown since Rock Sand in 1903 (Pommern, Gay Crusader and Gainsborough had won wartime "Triple Crowns" but these included substitute races run at Newmarket). Since Rock Sand, four colts had attempted the feat but St. Amant (sixth in 1904), Minoru (4th in 1909), Manna (tenth in 1925) and Cameronian (tenth and last in 1931) had all been well-beaten at Doncaster. He was ridden by Charlie Smirke, Fox having sustained serious injuries in a fall the previous day.[18] Bahram won very easily by five lengths from Solar Ray, with Buckleigh a further three lengths away in third.[19] After the race Smirke claimed that Bahram could have won carrying "12 Stone and two riders".[20]


On Bahram's retirement, he was described as the "Horse of the Century" by his owner, an assessment with which the Daily Mail concurred,[10] although The Times regarded him as inferior to Windsor Lad.[21]

In their book A Century of Champions, John Randall and Tony Morris rated Bahram the twenty-eighth best horse of the 20th Century and the seventh best Derby winner, behind Sea-Bird, Hyperion, Mill Reef, Nijinsky, Shergar and Windsor Lad.[22]

Bahram was reportedly even lazier at home than he was on the racecourse, making him a difficult horse to assess. His trainer, Frank Butters, admitted that "I never knew how good he was".[22]

Stud record[edit]

At the end of the 1935 racing season Bahram was retired to Egerton Stud in Newmarket where he stood at a service fee of 500 guineas per mare.[1] With just two crops racing, Bahram became the second leading sire in 1940[1] and leading juvenile sire of 1941. Among his English progeny were Big Game (2000 Guineas and Champion Stakes), Persian Gulf winner of the Coronation Cup and sire of the Derby winner Parthia, Turkhan, winner of the 1940 St. Leger Stakes and Irish Derby and Zabara, and the winners of 469 races.[19] Bahram was also the damsire of Noor who competed successfully in England as well as in America where he would be inducted into the United States' National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.[23]

Following the German occupation of France during World War II, the Aga Khan fled France to the safety of Switzerland, and in September 1940, sold Bahram for £40,000 to an American syndicate made up of Walter P. Chrysler Jr., Alfred G. Vanderbilt II, James Cox Brady, Jr. and Sylvester Labrot, Jr. In 1941, the horse was brought to Vanderbilt's Sagamore Stud in Maryland then to Walter Chrysler Jr.'s North Wales Stud in Warrenton, Virginia. However, there was considerable resentment amongst British breeders against the Aga Khan for selling to overseas buyers all five of his Derby winners, particularly the three from the Blandford line, Bahram, Blenheim and Blenheim's son, Mahmoud. All of them were considered a severe loss to British breeding stock.[6]

In the US Bahram sired the winners of 660 races worth two million dollars.[19] In 1946 Bahram was sold for a reported $130,000 to a stud farm in Argentina where he met with only modest success before his death at 24 years of age in 1956.


Pedigree of Bahram (IRE), bay stallion, 1932
Bay 1919
Bay 1907
John o'Gaunt Isinglass
La Fleche
Canterbury Pilgrim Tristan
Bay 1912
White Eagle Gallinule
Merry Gal
Black Cherry Bendigo
Black Duchess
Friar's Daughter
Bay 1921
Friar Marcus
Bay 1912
Cicero Cyllene
Prim Nun Persimmon
Garron Lass
Bay 1917
Roseland William the Third
Electric Rose
Concertina St Simon
Cosmic Song (Family: 16-a[5])

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Leicester, Sir Charles, Bloodstock Breeding, J.A. Allen & Co, London, 1969
  2. ^ a b "Bahram". Horseracing History Online. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  3. ^ "Leading Sires of Great Britain and Ireland". Retrieved 2012-07-31.
  4. ^ Pryor, Peter, The Classic Connection, Cortney Publications, Luton, 1979
  5. ^ a b "Miss Agnes - Family 16-a". Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  6. ^ a b Anne Peters Thoroughbred Heritage. "Bahram". Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  7. ^ a b "TWO THOUSAND GUINEAS. Bahram s Victory". Sydney Morning Herald. 3 May 1935. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  8. ^ a b "Bahram is in line for Triple Crown". Montreal Gazette. 6 June 1935. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  9. ^ "Frederick Fox". Horseracing History Online. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  10. ^ a b "BAHRAM IS HORSE OF CENTURY". Barrier Miner. 16 Nov 1935. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  11. ^ Mortimer, Roger; Onslow, Richard; Willett, Peter (1978). Biographical Encyclopedia of British Flat Racing. Macdonald and Jane’s. ISBN 0-354-08536-0.
  12. ^ "ENGLISH RACING GIMCRACK STAKES—BAHRAM. LONDON, A". Mercury. 1 Sep 1934. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  13. ^ Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1990). Horse Racing: Records, Facts, Champions(Third Edition). Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-902-1.
  14. ^ "TWO THOUSAND GUINEAS Bahram Wins Comfortably Fav". The Argus. 3 May 1935. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  15. ^ "Bahram, heavy favorite, captures British Derby before crowd of 500,000". St. Petersburg Times. 5 June 1935. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  16. ^ "The Derby won by Bahram". Sydney Morning Herald. 6 June 1935. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  17. ^ "St Leger horses coughing". Glasgow Herald. 19 August 1935. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  18. ^ "Bahram scores easy victory". Leader-Post. 11 September 1935. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  19. ^ a b c Ahnert, Rainer L. (editor in chief), “Thoroughbred Breeding of the World”, Pozdun Publishing, Germany, 1970
  20. ^ "THE UNBEATEN BAHRAM. NINE RACES FOR £43,086". Sydney Morning Herald. 13 Sep 1935. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  21. ^ "- BAHRAM TO GO TO STUD Unbeaten in Nine Starts LON". Courier-Mail. 13 Sep 1935. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  22. ^ a b Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1999). A Century of Champions. Portway Press. ISBN 1-90157015-0.
  23. ^ "National Museum of Racing, Hall of Fame, Thoroughbred Horses". Archived from the original on 2012-05-14. Retrieved 2012-06-16.

External links[edit]