published: 10 Dec 2013 in Stallion profiles

South Australian breeders have access to a superb racehorse and proven sire following the Aga Khan’s decision to shuttle Dalakhani (IRE) to Cornerstone Stud in 2013. It’s an historic move by one of the world’s major breeders, and those looking to breed a classic winner or Cups horse will find this stallion ticks all the boxes.

‚ÄčTHE Aga Khan has described breeding thoroughbreds as ‘playing chess with nature’ and he certainly made the right move when he decided to send his Miswaki mare Daltawa to his French Derby winner Darshaan (Shirley Heights). The resulting foal was the Arc de Triomphe-Gr.1 winner Dalakhani (IRE), who is covering his first southern book of mares at Cornerstone Stud in South Australia this season.

Winner of eight of his nine starts and named European Horse of the Year and Champion Three Year-Old in 2003, Dalakhani, who had a Timeform of 133 at three, is already a successful sire in Europe with winners of more than $25m. Australian racegoers saw just how good his progeny can be when French Derby hero Reliable Man (GB) gave It’s a Dundeel (NZ) a galloping lesson in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes-Gr.1 (2000m) at Randwick on April 27 at just his second Australian start for trainer Chris Waller. Unfortunately, Reliable Man (ex On Fair Stage by Sadler’s Wells) was injured pulling up in that race and had to be retired, but the grey was snapped up by a Gerry Harvey-led syndicate for Harvey’s Westbury Stud in NZ, standing at $15,000 plus GST.

Both Dalakhani’s parents descend from mares acquired by the Aga Khan in the 1970s from the bloodstock dispersal of French textile magnate Marcel Boussac, one of the great thoroughbred breeders of the 20th century and 19 times the Leading Owner in France and also Leading Owner in Britain in 1950 and 1951. The sire line, that of Mill Reef (Never Bend-Nasrullah) is one that has been carefully nurtured by the Aga Khan and is one particularly suited to all things Sadler’s Wells. Examples include Coolmore’s English Derby winners High Chaparral (who is by Sadler’s Wells from a Darshaan mare) and Pour Moi (by Montjeu (IRE) from a Darshaan mare), while Accessories (GB), dam of Gr.1 winners Helmet and Epaulette for Darley, is by Singspiel (IRE) (grandson of Sadler’s Wells) and from a daughter of Mill Reef.

Closer to his new southern base will be daughters of the classic winner Blevic, a son of Scenic (IRE) (Sadler’s Wells) and whose second dam is by Mill Reef, and they could be a very good cross with Dalakhani. Reliable Man showed Australian racegoers just how potent the Dalakhani-Sadler’s Wells cross is and a study of Dalakhani’s best runners in the northern hemisphere confirms this. 

Conduit, the Champion Three Year-Old Stayer in GB in 2008 and Champion Older Stayer (2009) and Champion US Turf Horse in 2008, whose seven wins include England’s weight for age championship, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes-Gr.1, the St Leger-Gr.1 and two renewals of the Breeders’ Cup Turf-Gr.1, is out of a daughter of Sadler’s Wells and has another line of Mill Reef’s sire Never Bend via Riverman. He is now at stud in Japan.

Chinese White, Ireland’s Champion Older female Miler of 2009 and winner of the Pretty Polly Stakes-Gr.1 is also out of a mare by Sadler’s Wells; while Irish St Leger winner Duncan is out of a mare by Danehill (more good news for Aussie breeders), his second dam is by In The Wings (by Sadler’s Wells from a mare by Shirley Heights) and his fourth dam is by Mill Reef; Seismos, winner of the Munich Grosser Preis von Bayern-Gr.1, is another inbred to Shirley Heights (3mx4m) as he is out of a mare by Dashing Blade (grandson of Shirley Heights), while his second dam is by Old Vic (Sadler’s Wells).

However, Dalakhani has Group winners from other sources too, Moonstone, winner of the Irish Oaks-Gr.1 and runner up in the English Oaks-Gr.1, is from a mare by Law Society (Alleged); Gr.2 winner Armure is from a daughter of Generous (Caerleon); Gr.2 winner and Gr.1 placed Vadamar is from a daughter of Unfuwain; Gr.2 winner Centennial is from a daughter of Lure (Danzig); and Gr.2 winner Democrate is from a daughter of Silver Hawk (Roberto). Danehill is the damsire of stakes winners Integral and Shemiyla, while other stakes winners are out of daughters of Nishapour, Alzao, Platini, Grindstone, Midyan, Batshoof, Bahri, Alhaarth, Lomitas, Barathea, Royal Academy, and Pivotal.

To mid-October, Dalakhani had 236 winners (54.9% of starters), with 484 wins. His 34 stakes winners represented 7.9% of starters, he is equally adept at siring winning colts and fillies and his winning distance index is 2232m. The sharper Australian pedigrees should see him getting some top class milers here, as well a classic and Cups horses. Sam Hayes and his partners are to be applauded for securing such a wonderful horse for South Australia and his family knows a thing or two about stayers and had success with imported Melbourne Cup winners who went on to be good sires: Jeune, trained by Sam’s uncle David Hayes and At Talaq trained by his late grandfather Colin Hayes, a innovative thoroughbred breeder who would no doubt have approved of this move.

Dalakhani was given a Timeform of 116p at two when he was unbeaten in three runs for trainer Alain de Royer Dupre in France and was first seen out in August when he led virtually all the way to win a newcomer’s race over 7f at Deauville. Three weeks later he stepped up to Gr.3 company in the Prix de Chenes (8f) at Longchamp and won in good style. He settled third in the five-runner event and took command with a furlong to go, drawing away to beat Mister Charm by 2.5 lengths. He was odds-on in the five-runner Criterium International-Gr.1 (8f) at Saint-Cloud next time out and won by a neck from Irish challenger Chevalier, a six length maiden winner on debut and stakes second at his previous run. They had five lengths on the rest of the field in the testing conditions, with Governor Brown third; and the win confirmed Dalakhani as the best two year-old colt in France.

Dalakhani made his first appearance at three (2003) in the Prix Greffulhe-Gr.3 (2100m) at Longchamp in April and it provided another win. He stepped out in the Prix Lupin-Gr.1 (2100m) the following month, settled nicely and took the lead in the final furlong to easily hold out Super Celebre by a length and with Irish raider Alberto Giacometti third. There were only seven runners in the Prix du Jockey Club-Gr.1 (2400m, French Derby) at Chantilly next time out on June 1 and again Dalakhani comfortably held runner-up Super Celebre by two lengths.

The Irish Derby-Gr.1 (12f) on June 29 at the Curragh was next on the agenda, and it turned out to be a stern test of stamina with the pacemakers from Ballydoyle setting a cracking tempo and with Dalakhani, chasing them in third position and ahead of the main pack, in an unusual role. This set him up for a battle with the Aga Khan’s other runner Alamshar in the final two furlongs and in the end Dalakhani was beaten a half-length into second, with his trainer noting, “My horse raced like a leader and he is not a leader.”

Dalakhani did not race again until September 4 when he contested the traditional Arc lead up, the Prix Niel-Gr.3 (2400m) at Longchamp and was back in the winner’s circle, defeating Doyen and English Derby winner Kris Kin into the minors. His final start came in the Arc de Triomphe-Gr.1 (2400m) at Longchamp on October 5 and his 12 opponents included the Coolmore duo of High Chaparral and Black Sam Bellamy, triple Irish St Leger hero Vinnie Roe, duel Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner Ange Gabriel, Geoffrey Freer Stakes winner Mubtaker, Derby winner Kris Kin and English St Leger winner Bollin Eric.

Dalakhani came with a great run to cut down his rivals in the straight, taking the lead from Mubtaker in the final furlong to beat that horse by three-quarters of a length, with a below form High Chaparral five lengths back in third and Doyen fourth, with Vinnie Roe and Black Sam Bellamy next. Dalakhani was the third Arc winner for his owner after Akyida in 1982 and Sinndar in 2000 and the first for his trainer and jockey Christophe Soumillon.

“He has got to be the outstanding horse of his generation over all distances and all goings,” the Aga Khan said after the three year-old’s win in the Arc. “I have always said it is difficult to make comparisons between champions but Dalakhani, such a beautiful mover, has a concentration of unusual talent.”

Timeform called Dalakhani “genuine and consistent” and said he was “effective on going ranging from heavy to good to firm”. They said he “had a telling turn of foot for a horse who stayed a mile and a half” and was “quite attractive, but rather finely made”. He stands 16.1 hands.

The Aga Khan-bred Darshaan (1981-2001), who won the 1984 French Derby from Sadler’s Wells and Rainbow Quest, traces to celebrated Boussac mare Tourzima (13c by Tourbillon), who the Aga Khan described as Boussac’s “rock”, “just as Mumtaz Mahal was for my grandfather”. Several of Tourzima’s daughters became great producers. French Derby winner and sire Acamas and Arc winner Akiyda, descend from Gloriana, by Pharis; Gloriana’s sister, the Irish Oaks and French 1000 Guineas winner Corejada, is the dam of French Oaks winner Appolonia; while another sister, the Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte winner Albanilla, is the fourth dam of Darshaan, Darara and Dalara (dam of Daliapour, a multiple Gr.1 winner by Sadler’s Wells who is now on the roster at Rosemount Stud in Victoria).

Darshaan (Shirley Heights-Delsy by Abdos) was the Champion Sire in France in 2003 and was a Champion Sire of Broodmares in Britain/Ireland and in France. He left 452 winners (72.2% of runners) of more than $50m and his 88 stakes winners represented a high 14.1% of starters. His runners included US Horse of the Year Kotashaan (Elocutionist), 10 wins including the Breeders’ Cup Turf; English 2000 Guineas winner Mark of Esteem (Adjal), also Champion Sire in the UK in a short stud career; and other Gr.1 winners Mutamam (Caerleon), Olden Times (Ajdal), Mezzo Soprano (Blushing Groom), Cerulean Sky (Law Society), Hellenic (Homeric), Necklace (Barathea), Dilshaan (Ajdal) and Key Change (The Minstrel).

His sire, the English and Irish Derby winner Shirley Heights (Mill Reef-Hardiemma by Hardicanute), was 1978 Horse of the Year in England and his 61 stakes winners included a seven-length English Derby winner Slip Anchor. Mill Reef (1968-86, Never Bend-Milan Mill by Princequillo) was also a horse of the Year in England and won 12 of his 14 starts at two and three including the Dewhurst Stakes-Gr.1 at two and the English Derby, ‘King George’, Eclipse Stakes and Arc de Triomphe at three. He won both starts at four but broke down when in training for a second Arc tilt and endured a seven-hour operation to repair his shattered leg. He covered just 23 mares in his first season (1973) and was syndicated the following season at £50,000 a share. 

Described as a “smallish horse with perfect balance”, Mill Reef, a strong influence for stamina, became a notable sire at the National Stud in England and was Britain’s Champion Sire in 1978 and 1984. His own sire Never Bend (Nasrullah-Lalun by Djeddah), a Champion US Juvenile who went on to be runner-up in a Kentucky Derby, combines bloodlines nurtured by the Aga Khan’s family and by Marcel Boussac. The temperamental Nasrullah (Nearco-Mumtaz Begum by Blenheim) is a grandson of the flying Mumtaz Mahal and Djeddah (Djebel-Djezima by Asterus), who won the Champion Stakes and Eclipse Stakes, is a three quarter-brother to Tourzima. Tourbillon and Djezima are also closely related as Tourbillon’s dam Durban and Djezima’s dam Heldifann are sisters, by Durbar from Banshee by Irish Lad.

Dalakhani’s dam Daltawa, by the Prix de la Salamandre winner Miswaki (Mr. Prospector-Hopespringseternal by Buckpasser) won twice at 2000m in France at two and three including a Listed event, and was a Gr.3 runner-up. She had been paired with the Mill Reef line before, going to English 2000 Guineas winner Doyoun (Mill Reef-Dumka by Kashmir), a horse inbred 4mx5f to Mumtaz Begum, to produce the European Horse of the Year of 1999 in Daylami, winner of 11 races including the Breeders’ Cup Turf, ‘King George’, Coronation Cup and the French 2000 Guineas. Doyoun was eventually culled to Turkey and so another from the same male line was chosen to be Daltawa’s mate in 1999. Daltawa’s six winners also include Daltaiyama (Dayoun), dam of stakes winner Daltaya (Anabaa) and Dalkala (Giant’s Causeway); Gr.3 winner Dalghar (Anabaa) and Listed winner Daymarti (Caerleon).

Daltawa’s sire is one of the best stallion sons of Mr. Prospector and best known for his Arc-winning daughter Urban Sea, dam of champions Galileo (Sadler’s Wells) and Sea The Stars (Cape Cross). Daltawa’s dam, Damana (Crystal Palace-Denia by Crepello), was stakes placed and won three races from 1600m-2800m but was culled from the Aga Khan’s studs in the mid-1990s. She is by a Derby winner, as are her dam Denia, dam of seven winners including stakes winner and Gr.1 placed Dastaan, and second dam, Rose Ness (Charlottesville).

They all trace to another of the Boussac mares, the Prix du Conseil Municipal winner Astana (9e, by Arbar-Theano by Tourbillon), Dalakani’s fifth dam. Astana’s daughter Crepellana (Crepello) won the French Oaks and her half-brother Philius (Pharis) won the French Derby. Astana is inbred 3mx2f to Tourbillon, whose family had such a big influence on the top half of Dalakhani’s pedigree.

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Show/Hide Sibling Identifiers

Six x Six Enhanced Pedigree Grid for

DALAKHANI (IRE) 2000 Grey colt
by Darshaan - Daltawa, by Miswaki


Br. 1981
GW 5 wins
f:826 r:670 w:431 SW:88
  Shirley Heights
B. 1975
GW 6 wins
f:690 r:521 w:345 SW:60
  Mill Reef
B. 1968
GW 12 wins
f:377 r:287 w:217 SW:62
  Never Bend   Nasrullah   Nearco 4
  Mumtaz Begum 9
  Lalun 3 Djeddah 13
  Be Faithful 19
  Milan Mill   Princequillo   Prince Rose 10
  Cosquilla 1
  Virginia Water   Count Fleet 6
  Red Ray 22
B. 1969
Wnr 2 wins
f:12 r:11 w:7 SW:1
  Hardicanute   Hard Ridden   Hard Sauce 11
  Toute Belle 16
  Harvest Maid   Umidwar 3
  Hay Fell 3
  Grand Cross   Grandmaster   Atout Maitre 4
  Honorarium 1
  Blue Cross   Blue Peter 20
  King's Cross 1
B. 1972
SP 1 win
f:15 r:13 w:12 SW:5
B. or Br. 1959
GW 1 win
f:153 r:76 w:53 SW:14
1 Arbar   Djebel   Tourbillon 13
  Loika 5
  Astronomie   Asterus 9
  Likka 9
  Pretty Lady   Umidwar   Blandford 3
  Uganda 3
  La Moqueuse   Teddy 2
  Primrose Lane 1
B. 1965
f:9 r:8 w:4
  Venture   Relic   War Relic 1
  Bridal Colors 8
  Rose O'Lynn   Pherozshah 9
  Rocklyn 7
  Marilla 1 Marsyas   Trimdon 1
  Astronomie 9
  Albanilla   Pharis 20
3 Tourzima 13
Gr. 1989
SW 2 wins
f:11 r:9 w:7 SW:4
Ch. 1978
GW 6 wins
f:1147 r:939 w:670 SW:94
  Mr. Prospector
B. 1970
SW 7 wins
f:1178 r:980 w:739 SW:182
  Raise A Native   Native Dancer   Polynesian 14
  Geisha 5
  Raise You   Case Ace 1
  Lady Glory 8
  Gold Digger   Nashua   Nasrullah 9
  Segula 3
  Sequence   Count Fleet 6
  Miss Dogwood 13
Ch. 1971
f:8 r:6 w:4 SW:2
  Buckpasser   Tom Fool   Menow 8
  Gaga 3
  Busanda   War Admiral 11
  Businesslike 1
  Rose Bower   Princequillo   Prince Rose 10
  Cosquilla 1
  Lea Lane   Nasrullah 9
  Lea Lark 16
Gr. 1981
SP 3 wins
f:11 r:9 w:5 SW:1
  Crystal Palace
Gr. 1974
GW 4 wins
f:499 r:325 w:201 SW:17
  Caro   Fortino   Grey Sovereign 6
  Ranavalo 4
  Chambord   Chamossaire 6
  Life Hill 3
  Hermieres   Sicambre   Prince Bio 1
  Sif 7
  Vieille Pierre   Blue Peter 20
  Vieille Maison 10
B. 1973
Wnr 2 wins
f:10 r:9 w:7 SW:1
  Crepello   Donatello   Blenheim 1
  Delleana 14
  Crepuscule   Mieuxce 7
  Red Sunset 16
  Rose Ness   Charlottesville   Prince Chevalier 9
  Noorani 14
  Astana 1 Arbar 9
  Theano 9

Arbar (FR ) 1944 : 4m x 6f
Nasrullah (GB) 1940 : 5m x 6m 6f
Princequillo (IRE) 1940 : 5f x 5f
Count Fleet (USA) 1940 : 6f x 6f
Blue Peter (GB ) 1936 : 6f x 6f

Astronomie (FR ) 1932 : 5m 6m x
Umidwar (IRE) 1931 : 6f 5f x