No compilation of great mares would be complete without a full discussion of the foundation mares of the Aga Khan’s stud. Although Mumtaz Mahal is the most famous of these mares, Friar’s Daughter did what even that remarkable mare could not do – produce a Triple Crown winner.
Today Friar’s Daughter’s family is not terribly strong, but it can still be found, most notably in Europe via the Ballatrix II group of mares and around the world (including the U. S.) via the Dentrelic descendents. The family’s most recent classic impact was in 1996 when the pedigrees of Tropular, sire of French Derby winner Ragmar, and German Derby second Surako both showed inbreeding to Friar’s Daughter.
Friar’s Daughter was born in 1921 and was a daughter of Friar Marcus, a good sprinter and excellent broodmare sire. Her dam, Garron Lass, never ran and though her family did not have much to recommend it at the time, it would grow in prominence, as second dam Concertina had produced a truly great broodmare daughter named Plucky Liege.
Bred by Lt. Col. F. Lort Williams, Friar’s Daughter was purchased for the Aga Khan by trainer Dick Dawson for 250 guineas at the Doncaster St. Leger sales. She was described as “a weedy-looking filly” whose size and generally poor condition were due to a bout with pneumonia which had nearly killed her and which had retarded her growth. Given that she had such a poor start in life, it is to her credit that she was later thought to be “speedy and very game”, somuchso that she was once used to test the quality of an up-and-coming runner named Mumtaz Mahal.
In the trial, Mumtaz Mahal was to give Friar’s Daughter 28 pounds, but the former’s speed was so superior that Dawson later said, “I nearly fell off my hack.” It is little wonder, as Mumtaz Mahal distanced Friar’s Daughter a full sixteenth of a mile.
Friar’s Daughter retired after an undistinguished career on the racetrack and produced her first foal, Fille D’Amour by Hurry On, in 1926. Fille D’Amour won the Prince of Wales’s Nursery Handicap and also placed in the Yorkshire Oaks.
Today her branch of the family is most notable for having produced 1943 Irish Derby and Two Thousand Guineas winner The Phoenix. The best daughter grup of mares traces to Vivien, a 1945 Nearco mare whose descendents include the above-mentioned Tropular.
The Phoenix’s blood is still available to those willing to look for it. In fact, it most recently appeared via a mare named Evensong, fourth dam of 1995 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Desert Stormer. Another daughter of The Phoenix, Gneevegawn, is the fourth dam of 1990 Italian Derby winner Passing Sale – and these are just two examples.
Friar’s Daughter was barren in 1927 but in 1928 produced the French stakes winner Fille De Salut by Sansovino. Today Fille de Salut’s branch of the family is the strongest, most notably via her daughter Fille de Soleil, dam of Chef-de-Race Sunny Boy and third dam of French 1000 Guineas winner *Rajput Princess, a major producer responsible for such good horses as Irish Oaks winner Regal Exception, Prix von Europa winner Esprit du Nord and the good producer Regal Endeavor, dam of Japanese stakes winner Ibuki New Star. Fille de Soleil is also the fifth dam of 1985 Ramona Handicap winner Daily Busy.
In 1929 Friar’s Daughter gave a preview of things to come when she produced the Solario colt Dastur who ran second in all three English classics. Dastur was described as “on the small side, compact and wonderfully sound”. Races later designated Grade I’s which he won were the Irish Derby, the Sussex and Champion Stakes and the Coronation Cup. Although he could not accomplish himself what his younger brother Bahram was about to do, he earned wonderful praise from his regular rider Michael Beary, who opined that the colt was the most genuine he had ever ridden.
Look for his blood today in any horse bearing the blood of Dark Star, who descends from him in direct male line; through Nilo via Fighting Fit; through Jacinto via Marita; through Honest Pleasure via Suntop; and through horses with Derring-Do blood, to name only a few sources.
Before giving the world the great gift that was later known as Bahram, Friar’s Daughter had time to produce the Solario filly Parsan, who became the second dam of the great Belgian racehorse and sire Feuerball, also a champion in Germany. Friar’s Daughter had no foal in 1931, then in 1932 she produced what was probably the greatest horse the Aga Khan would ever breed, with the possible exception of Shergar, which is arguable since the latter was not unbeaten.
Bahram, however, was unbeaten in nine glorious starts. A son of Blandford, who was said to have had less than perfect forelegs, Bahram himself was, nevertheless, considered a picture horse. Described as generally taller and of more scope than Dastur, Bahram was also a lazy work horse, and thus less generous than his older brother.
However, this did not affect him in the afternoon, as he won all his starts including the English Triple crown of the Two Thousand Guineas, Derby and St. Leger Stakes, as well as the National Breeders’ Produce Stakes, the Rous Memorial Stakes, the Woodwood and Gimcrack Stakes and the Middle Park Stakes. He was, quite naturally, champion of his age and sex at both two and three.
Upon his retirement, Bahram stood in England for four years, where he sired Irish Derby and St. Leger winner Turkhan and Two Thousand Guineas winner Big Game. He failed to establish a sire line, however, though the Aga Khan did not know this when the horse was sold in 1940 to the U.S., an act for which he was roundly criticised, especially by Lord Derby who banned him from breeding to his stallions which, at the time, included such giants as Hyperion.
Bahram also did not prosper in the U.S., however, and he was subsequently sold to Argentina, where he was once more considered a failure.
We have often pondered why Bahram failed as a sire, and have come to the conclusion that a) he really did not, for his name is found in enough influential pedigrees today that he is designated a Chef-de-Race, and b) he might well have established a lasting male line had he only stayed in one place. Be that as it may, today Bahram’s blood is available via a wide variety of sources, including horses with strains of Risen Star, Tell, Temperence Hill, Vanlandingham, Bagdad, Rainbow Connection, Anne’s Pretender, Mellay, Kalaglow, *Gallant Man, Nishapour, Nassipour, Tamerlane, Delta Judge and Maudlin.
After Bahram, everything Friar’s Daughter produced was bound to be anti-climactic, but she nevertheless got the mare Niloufer by Sansovino, who has a small branch alive in South America; the good South African colt Sadri; and the filly Alrabia, by Blenheim II, who has established a viable branch in Germany.
At first glance, this family may seem on the verge of extinction. However, evidence that the Aga Khan still admires and utilizes this family is easy to find. His Highness’ most recent inbreeding to Friar’s Daughter is centered in two wonderful broodmares, both daughters of Val de Loir. Val Divine, a 1971 daughter of Pola Bella, is inbred to Friar’s Daughter on a 6 x 5 cross of Fille De Salut/Dastur. She was only a winner herself, but has been a major force as a producer.
Val Divine has produced five stakes winners – Prix Dollar (G2) winner Yashgan(GB); Escondido Handicap winner Varadavour (IRE); Champion Stakes (G1) winner Vayraan; Queen Anne Stakes (G3) winner Valiyar; and Prix Predicateur winner Vearia (IRE), dam of Grand Prix de Paris (G1) winner Valanour. She also foaled the Grade 1 placed Valdali (IRE) and the winning Niece Divine, dam of French Derby winner Natroun.
Sharmeen, out of Nasreen (IRE) by Charlottesville (GB), also is inbred to Friar’s Daughter on a Fille De Salut/Dastur cross, in her case 5 x 5. She is the dam of the ill-fated Derby winner Shergar as well as the current Aga Khan stallion Shernazar and more recently the 1994 Prix Minerve (G3) winner Sharamana (IRE).
Sharmeen’s son Shernazar serves well to illustratge how the Aga Khan has expanded inbreeding to Friar’s Daughter to include another branch of her family. Since Friar’s Daughter is a granddaughter of Concertina and Plucky Liege is a daughter, he combined the two great mares in Shernazar’s pedigree, with two crosses of each branch. Shernazar carries *Sir Gallahad III/Bois Roussel 6 x 6 and Fille De Salut/Dastur 6 x 6 as well.
This pattern also shows up, though not in as much balance, in the Aga Khan mare Zariya, dam of Zayyani (G3 Greenham Stakes). Zayyani has five crosses of Concertina in all, though four of them are via Plucky Liege and only one is via Friar’s Daughter.
Friar’s Daughter produced her last foal, a colt by *Mahmoud named Muzloom in 1939. One might think that such a horse has nothing to do with today’s pedigrees. Yet in 1989 a colt by Stutz Blackhawk won a little stake called the William Pennington Stakes, worth $30,000. His third dam is a mare named Siete Lunas by none other than Muzloom. Which simply goes to prove that this bloodline is out there; you just have to be willing to look for it.
Friar’s Daughter’s own pedigree is loaded with St. Simon/Galopin/Vedette strains as well as five strains of Pocahontas, three via King Tom and two via Stockwell.
There are other aspects, of course, but we mention these here because of how much Blandford added to them to produce Bahram. Not only did Blandford add St. Simon himself, but two more strains of Galopin, plus three strains of Pocahontas through all three of her major sons, King Tom, Stockwell and Rataplan. Just within his first five generations, this 1935 Triple Crown winner had four crosses of St. Simon 5 x 5 x 5 x 4. No wonder it took 35 years for another English Triple Crown winner, Nijinsky II, to come along. There have been none since, of course, and it is unlikely that we will ever have another for the simple reason that a horse who runs in the Two Thousand Guineas and Derby is unlikely to prefer the 1 3/4 plus miles of the St. Leger to the richer – and shorter – Arc de Triomphe.
Today, if a breeder is set on causing this once-proud and now rather spotty clan to bloom again, he is going to have to do some looking. We’d start with a mare who traced to Rajput Princess or Tanapa (FR) and then breed them to any of the Aga Khan’s horses (or sons of those horses) who have inbreeding to the family. With enough patience and enough desire, almost all great old familes can be virtually nurtured into growing a new branch.
For the time being, we’re going to keep our eye out for horses inbred to this great mare like Tropular and Surako as well as how the daughters of mares like Luthier’s Launch, My Cherie Amour and the faster descendents of Rajput Princess fare when put to faster/modern strains which also contain Concertina blood (Capote, e. g.).
Naming Friar’s Daughter a Reine-de-Course is a good opportunity to honor her second dam, Concertina, while we are at it, since Concertina is responsible for both her and Plucky Liege. So new Reines-de-Course are Concertina, Friar’s Daughter, Fille de Salut, and Fille de Soleil. New members of the family to be honored in this updated story are Dentrelic (1965 by Prudent) and Bellatrix II (1948 by Victrix).
Note their beautiful pedigrees:
Dentrelic is 3 x 3 to full siblings War Kilt/War Relic and 4 x 3 to three-quarter siblings Badruddin/*Mahmoud. Bellatrix II is x2 La Fleche via John o’Gaunt x2/Baroness La Fleche; x3 Pilgrimage via Canterbury Pilgrim x2/Loved One; 6 x 5 to full siblings Sainfoin/Sierra and x3 to full siblings St. Simon (x3)/Angelica. Note all that inbreeding is to existing Reines-de-Course!