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Daryakana - Sha Tin - December, 9 2009

Daryakana: became the eighth Group 1-winning filly or mare by Selkirk

  PICTURE: Hong Kong Jockey Club  

Daryakana: caps another fine year for Selkirk

3 ch f Selkirk - Daryaba (Night Shift)

FOR the second year in a row the world's most successful breeding operation has a top-class undefeated three-year-old filly among its stars.

In 2008 it was the brilliant Zarkava, who climaxed a perfect career with a scintillating victory in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe that confirmed her status as Europe's horse of the year.

Her successor in 2009 has not attained such dizzy heights as yet, but Daryakana hasimproved with every start to date, and Sunday's Group 1 triumph in the Hong Kong Vase prompts the belief that she will be a leading contender for the Aga Khan in top-level contests on the European stage next season.

Daryakana was a late developer, not sighted on a racecourse until July this year. She began with a smooth win in a minor event at Clairefontaine, and within a month she followed up in fine style at Deauville.

On both occasions she was held up, way off the pace, before delivering eye-catching acceleration, and it was easy to imagine that the bare results did not reflect her true ability.

Raised in class for the Listed Prix des Tourelles at Chantilly in early September, shewas ridden with exaggerated confidence by Christophe Soumillon, who kept her detached from her nine rivals, seemingly asking her a tough question. But once again Daryakana came storming home to snatch the spoils from an older filly in the last few strides.

The filly's next assignment was in the Group 2 Prix de Royallieu on Arc weekend, an occasion which brought her owner-breeder a fabulous five-timer, including three at the top level.

She had Gerald Mosse in the saddle this time, but the tactics were as before, and the outcome much the same. Last of the seven turning for home, she responded readily when her rider shook the reins, and an impressive burst of speed down the outside carried her to an easy two and a half-length victory over the Sadler's Wells filly Peinture Rare.

After that performance Daryakana's connections were initially inclined to feel that she had done enough for the season, but she continued to thrive at home and the temptation to aim at one more target at Sha Tin became impossible to resist.

The competition in the Hong Kong Vase appeared to be tougher again, with three-time Arc runner-up Youmzain and another proven older star in Spanish Moon among the opposition. As the only three-year-old filly on parade, tackling males for the first time, she seemed to have plenty on her plate.

As it turned out, Youmzain did not do himself justice, but Spanish Moon was decidedly on song, and when he grabbed the lead a furlong from home the race seemed all over. The five-year-old gave Ryan Moore all he had, but the champion jockey was all too aware of what to expect from the filly, and as the post came nearer the prospect he had dreaded came ominously into view.

Having had only one behind her on the turn for home, Daryakana fairly ate up the ground in the straight and Mosse's timing proved spot on. There was no way that Spanish Moon could quicken again close home, and the filly snatched a short-head verdict on the line.

Five runs, five wins – three of them by under a length and all gained by dint of superior acceleration after racing from way off the pace. It is still hard to assess Daryakana's true merit, but there can be little doubt that she remains on the upgrade and must be considered a legitimate contender for top honours back in Europe in 2010.

Daryakana represents the 13th crop by her sire, Selkirk, a horse remembered for his sterling performances in the early 1990s, successful in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes as a three-year-old, and a triple Group 2 scorer in the following season – in the Lockinge, the Celebration Mile and the Challenge Stakes.

The Lanwades-based stallion is now responsible for a total of 12 individual Group 1/Grade 1 winners, and eight of them have been fillies, the others being Squeak, Field of Hope, Wince, Sulk, Favourable Terms, Kastoria (also an Aga Khan-bred), and Red Bloom. If we cannot yet describe Daryakana as the best of them, chances are that we will next term.

Selkirk has enjoyed an excellent 2009 with his runners – five individual Pattern winners over a variety of distances, from Border Patrol at 1m to Akmal over twice that distance – and with his sale yearlings, who averaged over 90,000gns and included the top-priced lot, a 260,000gns colt out of Eminencia, at Tattersalls October Part 2.

But Selkirk was not so fortunate in the breeding season, getting injured by a maiden mare early on. Although he resumed covering after a week's rest, it soon became clear that his semen quality had been impaired and he was taken out of service in mid-March.

There has since been better news. The density, motility and longevity of his sperm have improved, he has two test mares in foal, and he is reportedly in vigorous health. Breeders may feel confident that normal service will be resumed in February, when he is scheduled to cover at £20,000, his lowest fee for a decade.

Daryakana is the fourth winner from five racing-age foals out of the top-class racemare Daryaba, whose previous best runner was Daramsar, a Rainbow Quest colt successful in the Group 2 Prix du Conseil Municipal.

A late developer, like her daughter, Daryaba ran only as a three-year-old, rapidly reaching the top as winner of both the Prix de Diane and the Prix Vermeille in 1999.

Her reputation after those victories was such that she started as fourth favourite for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, but that race proved an unhappy experience; she bled and was found to have mucus in her lungs. Hercareer was over after just five races.

Nevertheless, Daryaba could be considered second-best among all the daughters of Night Shift, inferior only to In the Groove, and it comes as no surprise that she has been making her mark as a broodmare. Her future prospects in that role also appear bright, with a yearling filly by Kingmambo and a filly foal by Mr Greeley now in the pipeline.

Daryakana comes from a family which served Marcel Boussac well over a long period, delivering a dual Champion Stakes winner in Dynamiter and an outstanding two-year-old in Abdos among many notable performers, and has thrived no less conspicuously since its absorption into the Aga Khan operation in the late 1970s.

The best in recent years have included Darsi, winner of the Prix du Jockey-Club in 2006, and Darjina, a triple Group 1 victress in 2007 and luckless runner-up in six further top-level events in 2008. Daryakana will not be the lastto confirm the strength of this family.

Bred by HH Aga Khan's Studs in France


Sire: Selkirk

Bred by George Strawbridge Jr in Pennsylvania. Won 6 (7-8f) of 15 starts, viz. 1 (Listed) out of 2 at 2 years, 2 (inc. Queen Elizabeth II S.-Gr1) out of 6 at 3 years, 3 (Lockinge S.-Gr2, Goodwood Mile-Gr2, Challenge S.-Gr2) out of 7 at 4 years. RPR: 116 at 2 years, 128 at 3 years, 129 at 4 years. Earned £477,379.

Big (16.2½hh), powerful, long-striding, quite attractive individual, if always a bit on the leg. Effective on any ground, very game, best at a mile, with excellent turn of foot.

By a high-class sprinter and good sire whose stock often stayed better than he did. Out of an unfashionably-bred mare who nevertheless showed good form here (Listed winner, Classic-placed) and in the States (Gr2 winner), and has bred other notable stakes-winners in Seebe (by Danzig; Gr3 winner in England and USA, Gr1-placed in France) and Rory Creek (by Silver Hawk; Gr3 winner in USA).

Stands at Lanwades Stud, Newmarket, at a fee of £20,000.

Dam: Daryaba

Bred by H.H. Aga Khan's Studs in Ireland. Won 3 (1m2.5f-1m4f) of 5 races, viz. unraced at 2 years, won 3 (inc. Prix de Diane-Gr1, Prix Vermeille-Gr1) of 5 races at 3 years. RPR: 118. Earned Ff2,326,000.

Quite small, neat individual. Stayed 1m4f well, acted on fast and rain-affected ground. Bled when disappointing in Arc de Triomphe on final appearance.

The best daughter of her sire, after In the Groove. Well bred. Sister and half-sister to several other winners. Dam Listed winner over 1m4f, Gr3-placed, half-sister to Daralinsha (Gr3 winner, grand-dam of Prix du Jockey-Club winner Darsi, 3rd dam of triple Gr1 winner Darjina) and to dam of Far Cry (Gr3 winner, Gr1-placed).

From a high-class family, regularly delivering major winners.

To stud at 4 years and dam of: Daryamar (2001 c by Machiavellian; winner, Listed-placed), Daramsar (2003 c by Rainbow Quest; Gr2 winner), Douraya (2004 f by Sendawar; winner), Dardania (2005 f by Dalakhani; placed), Daryakana (2006 f by Selkirk; unbeaten Gr1 winner). She has a yearling filly by Kingmambo, and a filly-foal by Mr Greeley. Slipped to Sendawar in 2002, barren to Indian Ridge in 2007.


High-class, strongly progressive filly from an excellent family. Promises to be competitive in top open company in Europe in 2010.








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