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Racing silks of Aga Khan.svg
Racing silks of Aga Khan
SireZamindar (USA)
GrandsireGone West
BreederHH Aga Khan IV
OwnerHH Aga Khan IV
TrainerAlain de Royer-Dupre
Record7: 7-0-0
Major wins
Prix Marcel Boussac (2007)
Prix de la Grotte (2008)
Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (2008)
Prix de Diane (2008)
Prix Vermeille (2008)
Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (2008)
European Horse of the Year (2008)
European Champion 3-Y-O Filly (2008)
Last updated on 18 November 2008

Zarkava (foaled 31 March 2005 in Ireland) is an undefeated French Thoroughbred racehorse whose wins included the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.


Bred and raced by HH Aga Khan IV, Zarkava was sired by Group II winner Zamindar who also sired the multiple Group One winner, Darjina. Out of the mare, Zarkasha, her damsire is Kahyasi, winner of the 1988 Epsom and Irish Derbys.[1]

Racing record[edit]

Zarkava made two starts at age two at Longchamp Racecourse, her home base in Paris for trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre. She won both the 2007 Prix de la Cascade for maiden fillies, and the Group One Prix Marcel Boussac. As a three-year-old, she made her 2008 debut in April at Longchamp with a win in the Group Three Prix de la Grotte followed by the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches in which she set a new race record time. She then won the Prix de Diane at Chantilly Racecourse in June and back at Longchamp, September's 2,400 metres (1½ mile) Prix Vermeille. After stumbling out of the starting gate and losing at least a dozen lengths to the leaders, she came back from last to equal the race record time in winning the Prix Vermeille by two lengths.

Ridden by Christophe Soumillon in all her starts to date, Zarkava was the betting favorite leading up to the October 5th Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. In what was her first race against colts, Zarkava won the 2008 Arc with a powerful stretch drive to become the first filly in fifteen years to win the race. Zarkava was retired on 13 October 2008, with an undefeated record.[2]

Many began to question her ability to win the Arc after her tardy start in the Prix Vermeille. However, on 17 November 2008, when she was named Cartier Horse of the Year, the Aga Khan noted in a video interview posted on the website of the Daily Telegraph that they had been working to get this quirky filly to leave from a state of relaxation in the gate and run in a more relaxed mode at the start of her races instead of getting "all tied up". He also said Zarkava had matured at three and did not get into her pace as quickly as she did at two. The Aga Khan went on to say she was an exceptional racehorse in a year of exceptional horses; and that her quality was identified very early, resulting in being placed in Group 1 races after her maiden win. The interview also stated that his daughter, Princess Zahra, was deeply involved in the breeding of Zarkava, as well as the Aga Khan's other horses. His Highness has been quoted in story after story as saying Zarkava represents "the apogee" of his family's 90+ years of breeding champion thoroughbred racehorses.


As of November 2008, Zarkava was ranked #2 racehorse in the world by the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities ( and #1 in the world by The UK's Daily Mail reported that in addition to being the first filly to win the Arc in 15 years, she was the first three-year-old filly to win since 1982 and the first of either sex to win the great race from her post position since 1964.

Timeform announced that they rated Zarkava at 133 after the Arc, making her the joint-best filly or mare in the last 20 years and joint-seventh in the last 40 years. This was significantly higher than the official rating, but Phil Smith, the senior British Horseracing Authority handicapper, explained that it was like comparing apples and oranges.

"We look at the facts and make our assessment in an historical context," he said. "We're not trying to speculate. We think Zarkava is exceptionally good, and we think our figure reflects that. We're also constantly updating our list of the 50 top horses, and she is joint-second (with Duke Of Marmalade) on 127, only 3lb behind the top-rated, Curlin. Many forget she was receiving a 3lb sex allowance, which if applied to our list, would bring her out as the same horse as Curlin [as the #1 rated horse in the world].

Zarkava won the prize, Most Under-Appreciated Significant Victory of 2008 Insider Award, for her defeat of older males in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.[3]

Zarkava was named European Horse of the Year at the 2008 Cartier Racing Awards.[4]

Stud record[edit]

The first foal for Zarkava was a filly by Dalakhani foaled on 6 February 2010 at Gilltown Stud in Kilcullen, Ireland[5] who was subsequently named Zerkaza.[6]

On 11 February 2011 she produced a bay colt by 2009 Epsom Derby, 2000 Guineas and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner, European Champion 3-year-old and No.1 World Ranked Racehorse Sea the Stars at the Aga Khan's Haras de Bonneval stud in Normandy, France. The colt, named Zarkash, was described as "a strong colt who looks like his sire and is very correct.",[7] and was priced at 50-1 to win the 2014 Epsom Derby after his birth, but never made it onto a racecourse. Zarkash was trained by Alain de Royer-Dupré at Chantilly but broke a leg during training in October 2014 and had to be euthanized.[8]

2010 Zerkaza (IRE), filly, foaled 6 February, by Dalakhani (IRE) - unraced. Has foaled a filly by Exceed and Excel and a colt by Oasis Dream. In foal to Sea the Stars. Aga Khan reported plans for her to be covered by Siyouni in 2017.

2011 Zarkash (FR), bay colt, foaled 11 February, by Sea The Stars (IRE) - unraced

2012 Zarkar, Colt by Galileo (IRE) - unraced. Stood at stud in Argentina one year before being euthanized in May 2017 after fracturing a tibia in a paddock accident [9]

2013 Zarak (FR), Colt, foaled 1 March, by Dubawi (IRE) - Raced 2015-2017 and retired to stud for the 2018 year. Out of 13 starts, he had four wins (one Grade 1, one Grade 3), three seconds(two Grade 1, one Grade 2), one third (Grade 2), two fourths, (both Grade 1), two fifths, (both Grade 1), and finished tenth in his career final (Grade 1).[10]

2014 Zarmitan (FR), Bay Colt, foaled 10 March, by Redoute's Choice (AUS). He was expected to debut at St Cloud in June, 2017.

2015 Zarkamiya (FR), Filly by Frankel (IRE) - Won her debut on April 19, 2018 at Longchamp[11][12]

2016 Colt by Invincible Spirit (IRE)

2017 Bay filly, foaled 21 March, by Siyouni (FR)

2018 Colt, foaled in March, by Sea The Stars (IRE)

2019, to be Covered by Dubawi. This foal will be a full sibling to 2013 Zarak


Pedigree of Zarkava, bay mare, 2005
Zamindar (USA)
Gone West Mr. Prospector Raise a Native
Gold Digger
Secretame Secretariat
Zaizafon The Minstrel Northern Dancer
Mofida Right Tack
Wold Lass
Kahyasi Ile de Bourbon Nijinsky II
Kadissya Blushing Groom
Zarkana Doyoun Mill Reef
Zarna Shernazar

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History". Aga Khan Studs. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  2. ^ "Arc star Zarkava retired to stud". 13 October 2008 – via
  3. ^
  4. ^ Armytage, Marcus (17 November 2008). "Zarkava named as Horse of the Year at Cartier Racing Awards" – via
  5. ^ "- Thoroughbred Times".
  6. ^ "Arc winner Zarkava's first foal named". Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  7. ^ "Racing hails birth of superfoal". 15 February 2011 – via
  8. ^ Burton, Scott. "Zarkava progeny Zarkash suffers fatal injury". Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  9. ^ Stevens, Martin. "Son of Zarkava dies after one season at stud in Argentina - Bloodstock News - Racing Post".
  10. ^ "The Aga Khan Studs". The Aga Khan Studs.
  11. ^ "Well-bred Zarkamiya strolls to debut success - Bloodstock News - Racing Post".
  12. ^

External links[edit]