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Death of brilliant Arc winner Dalakhani, aged 21

Dalakhani, one of the Aga Khan’s greatest horses, has died at the age of 21.

The 2003 Horse of the Year only lost once in a nine-race career, in the Irish Derby to John Oxx’s Alamshar, also owned by the Aga Khan.

Trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, the son of Darshaan rounded off his juvenile season with a win in the Group One Criterium International over a mile at Saint-Cloud.

His first three runs the following year were all victories, including further Group One glory in the Prix Lupin and Prix du Jockey Club before his defeat at the Curragh.

Given a break, he returned to win the Prix Niel and was retired having won the biggest of them all, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in which he beat the Marcus Tregoning-trained Mubtaker.

Dalakhani went on to enjoy a successful career at stud, with Sir Michael Stoute’s dual Breeders’ Cup and St Leger winner Conduit, Prix du Jockey Club hero Reliable Man and Roger Varian’s Defoe among his progeny. He retired from stud duty in 2016.

A tweet from Aga Khan Studs read: “It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of the 2003 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner #Dalakhani.

“He was a champion racehorse and sired 10 Group One winners during his stud career. Dalakhani had been enjoying a peaceful retirement and was 21.”

Murtagh to train for the Aga Khan

Johnny Murtagh is “delighted” to renew his association with the Aga Khan, who is to add the trainer to his roster for 2021.

Murtagh enjoyed some of his greatest days as a jockey in the owner’s famous green and red silks.

He won the 2000 Derby at Epsom on Sinndar, with whom he also went on to follow up in the Irish version and win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for the Aga Khan and trainer John Oxx.

Murtagh also rode the likes of Timarida, Alamshar, Enzeli and Kalanisi to big-race glory – and following on from his first Group One winner as a trainer this season, when Champers Elysees won the Matron Stakes, he has attracted one of the sport’s major supporters to his yard.

“I am delighted to renew our partnership with H.H. the Aga Khan and his team,” said Murtagh.

“A hugely successful owner-breeder operation worldwide, I look forward to receiving his draft of yearlings here at Fox Covert Stables and hopefully many winners to come, to add to our great association together.“

Pat Downes, manager of the Aga Khan Studs in Ireland, said on www.agakhanstuds.com: “We have watched Johnny’s training career develop over the last few years, and undoubtedly 2020 has been a highly successful year for him.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to have him train for the Aga Khan Studs, and we will be sending him some yearlings in the coming weeks.

“His Highness and Johnny have enjoyed some great days in the past together, and hopefully there will be good days to look forward to in the future as well.”

Murtagh will join Dermot Weld and Mick Halford as trainers for the Aga Khan in Ireland.