Last Updated: 12:40am GMT 22/11/2006
News Article
By HOTSPUR (J A McGrath)

Aga Khan collects O'Sullevan award

The Aga Khan joined a select group of recipients when collecting the 10th annual Peter O'Sullevan award at The Savoy in London yesterday.

The owner-breeder, who has seen his colours carried to Derby success four times at Epsom, was added to an illustrious list of racing names who have been recognised for a lifetime's contribution to the sport.

The Queen, the late Queen Mother, Vincent O'Brien, Dick Hern, Lester Piggott, Pat Eddery, 'Stoker' Devonshire, Dick Francis, plus the famous training brothers, Toby and Ian Balding, were all previous winners of the coveted award.

advertisementThe Aga Khan, who has dominated racing in France during his lifetime, said: "I came into this great game by accident at the age of 23." His father, the great racing enthusiast and former amateur rider, Prince Aly Khan, was killed in a car crash in 1959.

A youthful Aga Khan was thus thrust into a world which, by his own admission, he knew little about. But with painstaking care and application, he has developed the bloodstock empire he inherited and taken it to a new level of excellence.

He now has two studs in France and another two in Ireland, where he continues to breed horses of Classic standard. His Derby winners, all home-bred, are Shergar, Shahrastani, Kahyasi and Sinndar.

As a video collection of the Aga Khan's greatest wins were shown his influence on the racing world was illustrated in graphic style. Aside from his English Derby winners, there were Dalakhani, Daylami (before he joined Godolphin), Alamshar, Ashkalani, and the highly-talented Azamour.

There was no mention of the Aga Khan's lengthy, self-imposed exile from British racing following the disqualification of his 1989 Oaks winner Aliysa, although Sir Michael Stoute, the filly's trainer (who was present yesterday), and the owner maintain the case was appallingly handled by racing officialdom.

The Aga Khan's vast racing empire appears to be in safe hands in future years, as Princess Zahra Aga Khan, his daughter, the owner-breder of Prix Vermeille winner Mandesha, is already heavily involved.

Princess Zahra was one of four key members of the Aga Khan's stud management group that engineered a series of matings for the stud's top mares that resulted in more speed being injected into some of the more traditional staying bloodlines.


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