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Page last updated at 10:36 GMT, Monday, 13 October 2008 11:36 UK

Arc star Zarkava retired to stud

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Replay: Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

Zarkava, the unbeaten French-trained winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, has been retired from racing.

The brilliant three-year-old filly bows out at the top after recording seven wins from seven starts.

Her owner, the Aga Khan, said "no-one will regret" not seeing her run next season or beyond any more than him.

He called her a "supreme athlete" who would be "an invaluable asset to an essential part of our activity".

Zarkava has been rated by Timeform as the joint best filly/mare of the last 20 years and joint seventh best of the last 40 years, with a mark of 133.

Bookmakers had installed Zarkava as their 2-1 favourite for next year's Arc, indicating that the Aga Khan's decision on Monday will be viewed with surprise in many quarters.

The three-year-old daughter of Zamindar came from the back of the field to storm to a memorable two-length victory in the Arc. It was her fifth Group One triumph and came just eight days ago.

But after protracted discussions between the Aga Khan's management team and Zarkava's handler, Alain de Royer-Dupre, the decision was taken not to keep her in training next term.

Dalakhani, the Aga Khan's 2003 Arc winner, will cover Zarkava in her first season at stud in 2009. The son of Darshaan has made a successful start to his stallion career following the Group One wins of Moonstone (Irish Oaks) and Conduit (St Leger) from his first crop of three-year-olds in 2008.

As a trainer, it is normal to feel some disappointment at her retirement... but I understand

Alain de Royer-Dupre (trainer)

The Aga Khan said: "The quality and youth of our broodmare band is of the utmost importance to ensure we remain breeders of racehorses capable of performing at the top level."

Although Zarkava's finest hour arrived in the Arc, the filly also retires a dual Classic winner. In addition to her French 1,000 Guineas and French Oaks victories, she also claimed the Prix Marcel Boussac as a two-year-old and the Prix Vermeille in September.

The Aga Khan praised the efforts of those responsible for nurturing Zarkava towards greatness - including De Royer-Dupre and jockey Christophe Soumillon, who rode the filly in all seven of her starts.

De Royer-Dupre was understandably downcast at the news of Zarkava's retirement but fully accepts the Aga Khan's decision.

"As a trainer, it is normal to feel some disappointment at her retirement," said the Chantilly handler.

"But I understand that it is important for the valuable continuation of the Aga Khan's breeding operation. She is going to be a wonderful prospect at stud."

see also
Superb Zarkava claims Arc triumph
05 Oct 08 |  Horse Racing

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