If there was to be a figurehead for how infusions of different blood has enhanced the Aga Khan’s breeding programme over the decades, then Tahiyra would surely qualify.
Now the winner of three Group 1 races following her success in last week’s Coronation Stakes, the filly is a daughter of her breeder’s French champion sire Siyouni, whose dam Sichilla joined the Aga Khan Studs in March 2005 as part of the 188 horses acquired from the estate of Jean-Luc Lagardere. And she is out of an emerging blue hen in Tarana, whose line has consistently fared well in the green and red in the years since her fourth dam Tremogia was acquired within the Francois Dupre stock in 1977. The print of Marcel Boussac also hovers over Tarana’s third dam Tarafa, whose sire Akarad (by Labus out of Licata) was among those in utero at the time of Aga Khan’s acquisition of the Marcel Boussac horses.
This constant development of families old and new, with an eye on what’s best for the racetrack rather than the sale ring, has been key to the success of the Aga Khan Studs throughout its history and in Tahiyra, one of the best fillies of her generation, the process could not have worked out to better effect.
Tahiyra is a direct descendant of Francois Dupre’s dual Prix de l’Abbaye heroine Texana, the champion French two-year-old filly of 1957.
Texana was a Dupre homebred but she too bore the hallmarks of Boussac breeding being out of the stakes-winning, stakes producer Tosca, a daughter of the textile magnate’s foundation stallion Tourbillon who was tightly inbred to that horse’s dam Durban.
Texana left behind only three winners but two were smart, namely the Prix de la Vallee d’Auge winner Taxation and Tonnera, one of the leading lights among the French three-year-old filly division of 1966 by virtue of a second in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches and victory in the Prix Saint-Alary, in which she reversed the placings with her Pouliches conqueror Right Away.
By that stage, Tremogia was part of the Aga Khan Studs, having changed hands in a ‘lock, stock and barrel’ transaction that involved 82 horses within the dispersal of Haras d’Ouilly
Of Tonnera’s five foals, two were fillies and only one, her Silver Shark daughter Tremogia, left any kind of lasting impact at stud. By that stage, Tremogia was part of the Aga Khan Studs, having changed hands in a ‘lock, stock and barrel’ transaction that involved 82 horses within the dispersal of Haras d’Ouilly. The dispersal, reflective of 55 years of breeding by Francois Dupre and his widow Chanteur, was due to be staged as a public auction on the day after the 1977 Arc but the Aga Khan swooped beforehand to purchase the entire catalogue for a reported £1.3 million. Included in the package was the 1979 Prix du Jockey Club winner Top Ville, then a yearling, and his dam Sega Ville, as well as Niece Divine, subsequently dam of another Prix du Jockey Club winner in Natroun.
Tremogia didn’t reach such lofty heights at stud but she did add plenty to the Aga Khan’s operation starting with her first foal, the Kalamoun colt Tassmoun whose 12 victories included the Prix Messidor. His Listed-winning sister Talaja followed shortly after ahead of the Shergar filly Tashtiya, one of only 36 foals from the sole crop of her ill-fated sire who did him proud by winning the 1986 Princess Royal Stakes. Italian Group 3 winner Tashkourgan and Chester Listed scorer Tarikhana followed in later years.
In turn, a number of Tremogia’s daughters have become important producers.
Tarikhana bred the Prix Royal-Oak winner Tiraaz, whose later claim to fame was as the sire of top two-mile chaser Finian’s Rainbow during his short innings at stud.
Tashtiya became the granddam of Tashelka, a dual Group 3 winner for Sheikh Mohammed who later foaled the Classic-placed, Group 2 winner Tasaday. Tashtiya is also the third dam of South African champion Whisky Baron.
Talaja foaled Group 3 winner Tiangar while minor scorer Tadkiyra, by Darshaan, produced Irish champion two-year-old Damson, winner of the 2004 Phoenix and Queen Mary Stakes and later dam of the high-class sprint juvenile Requinto and third dam of William Haggas’ globe-trotting Group 1 star Dubai Honour.
The unraced Takrana, meanwhile, sits as the ancestress of a family responsible for such speedsters as Gilt Edge Girl, Arcano, Godfrey Street, Streamline and Blue Dakota.
Connections persevered with Tarana and were rewarded when an eight-race four-year-old campaign included a pair of Listed wins in the Martin Molony and Oyster Stakes alongside a Group 3 placing in the Curragh Cup
By comparison, the branch responsible for Tahiyra – that belonging to Tarafa, Tremogia’s 1985-foaled daughter of Akarad – ticked over quietly for several years. Tarafa won twice as a three-year-old for Sir Michael Stoute, including a smart handicap at York’s Ebor meeting. However, although later the dam of seven winners, only one landed black-type, and the mare was sold for 26,000gns at Tattersalls in 1997. The black-type filly in question was the Shahrastani filly Tarakana, who followed up a Mallow maiden win over 7f for John Oxx with a Listed-placing in the Oyster Stakes over 1m4f.
Like her dam, Tarakana bred plenty of winners – nine in total – but only one black-type performer. That was Tarakala, a daughter of Dr Fong whose four victories for Oxx culminated in a wide-margin victory in the 2004 Galtres Stakes at York. A tough filly, she also defeated subsequent Group 2 winner Lord Admiral to win a classic trial at Gowran Park and was stakes-placed no fewer than five times.
The fact that Tarakala changed hands for just €12,000 in 2017 tells its own story regarding her stud career. In keeping with her dam and granddam, winners had been forthcoming but at a minor level. However, her best performer, Tarana, had been a smart filly for Oxx, one classy enough to win her sole start at two at the Curragh prior to overcoming a lengthy absence when second in the Listed Trigo Stakes at three. Connections persevered with the daughter of Cape Cross and were rewarded when an eight-race four-year-old campaign included a pair of Listed wins in the Martin Molony and Oyster Stakes alongside a Group 3 placing in the Curragh Cup.
Tarana ultimately stayed 1m4f well as did her first foal Tarnawa, who brought this family back to Group 1 heights with her wins in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Prix de l’Opera and Prix Vermeille. One of the best fillies of recent seasons, the daughter of Shamardal was also arguably unlucky when a close second to St Mark’s Basilica in the Irish Champion Stakes and ran a terrific race in second behind Torquator Tasso in a heavy-ground Arc.
That Tarana should produce two fillies of the calibre of Tarnawa and Tahiyra in her first three seasons at stud naturally places her within elite company. Tahiyra was more forward than her sibling, winning on debut in the Galway July Festival juvenile maiden that Tarawa herself finished third in before making an immediate impact at the top level with an impressive win in the Moyglare Stud Stakes. She has gone on to do little wrong this year as well, with a narrow defeat to Mawj in the 1,000 Guineas, in which the pair pulled well clear, preceding her smooth successes in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes.
— Aga Khan Studs (@AgaKhanStuds) June 23, 2023
Tahiyra most likely owes her pace to the influence of Siyouni, himself one of the most precocious runners to ever bear the Aga Khan silks. Successful in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere during a productive season at two for Alain de Royer-Dupre, Siyouni has become one of the major success stories of the French stallion scene, rising from an opening fee of €7,000 to his current high of €150,000.
As that ascent suggests, the 16-year-old has been successful from the outset. There were seven stakes winners in an initial crop of 78, among them the Aga Khan’s homebred Ervedya, winner of the 2015 Coronation Stakes, and the high-class sprinter Finsbury Square. The son of Pivotal has been a consistent source of quality since then, notably as the sire of that wonderful multiple Group 1-winning filly Laurens, a member of his fourth crop (off a €7,000 fee), Arc and Prix du Jockey Club hero Sottsass (€20,000), 2020 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches winner Dream And Do (€30,000) and champion St Mark’s Basilica (€45,000). The latter, a half-brother to Magna Grecia, provided ample reward for Coolmore’s 1,300,000gns investment in the colt as a yearling and the operation has continued to back Siyouni since, with further justification arriving in the form of Paddington, who backed up his Irish 2,000 Guineas success with an authoritative victory over Chaldean in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
Paddington and Tahiyra, both of whom look championship miler material, hail from the first €100,000 crop of their sire and with large crops bred off €140,000 on the ground, it is reasonable to assume that Siyouni’s standing as one of Europe’s elite will only be consolidated further in years to come. As it is, he currently sits behind only Frankel on the European sire standings for 2023 with the winners of approximately £2.2 million to his credit.