Mumtaz Mahal was bred in 1921 by Lady Sykes of Sledgmere. Mumtaz Mahal is by The Tetrarch – Lady Josephine by Sundridge. She was brilliantly fast, and had a powerful build in keeping with her sire, and also much of his colouring since “Mumty”, as she was known to the staff who handled her, had some of the blotchy spots of white and black on her grey coat, though not near as many, as her sire had. Her dam, Lady Josephine was also a speed type, as she was the winner of the Coventry Stakes and the Acorn Stakes at two. Lady Josephine would also produce Fair Trial by Fairway and is the direct female grandmother of another fast horse and top sire Tudor Minstrel.
Mumtaz Mahal cost the Aga nine thousand and one hundred guineas as a yearling. This was the second highest price ever paid for a yearling at that time. The highest was for the great filly Sceptre. Mumtaz Mahal was selected on behalf of the Aga Khan III by Lord Derby’s trainer and friend the Hon. George Lambton. The hallmark of the family is speed, and plenty of it, along with a large dose of nervous energy.
The grand sons of Mumty read like a Who’s Who in pedigrees. Nasrullah by Nearco was produced by her daughter Mumtaz Begum. Mumtaz Begum was sired by Blenheim, before his exportation to the US. Mumtaz Begum raced only as a two year old. She was a high strung sort, like her mother and grand sire, and since Nearco was also of similar temperament, it is no wonder that Nasrullah would be the head strong individual he was.
A full sister to Nasrullah named Rivaz (Bedford Stakes, July Stakes etc) is the dam of Palariva (leading sprinter twice), the grand dam of top class sire Kalamoun. Kalamoun was a short lived but very influential sire whose line is very strong in Europe today.
Mumtaz Begum also produced a daughter that would in turn produce a top sire. Sun Princess by Solario was unplaced as a runner but more than made up for this by producing Royal Charger by Nearco. Royal Charger is a vital branch of the Nearco male line, still in fashion today. This line leads to recent and current top sires Dynaformer, Deep Impact and More Than Ready.
Another daughter of Mumtaz Begum was Dodoma by Datsur. A champion at two, Dodoma would produce the blazingly fast Diableretta, who in turn produced Ginetta (Poule d’Essai des Pouliches) dam of stakes winner Nasreen. Nasreen is the dam of Sharmeen, dam of Shergar. Also, Mumtaz Begum’s daughter named Bibibeg by Bahram became the great grand dam of Risen Star.
Mah Mahal by Gainsborough – Mumtaz Mahal produced the record breaking Epsom Derby winner Mahmoud. Mahmoud became one of the important sires in recent Thoroughbred history. Sons such as Cohoes and The Axe II, and daughters Almahmoud, Grey Flight, Majideh, Boudoir II, and Ghazni have had substantial influence on the breed that is still reverent today.
Mah Iran by Bahram was another stakes winning daughter produced by Mah Mahal. She in turn is the dam of Migoli (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Eclipse Stakes, and Champion Stakes) by Bois Roussel. Migoli would sire Gallant Man (Belmont Stakes). A full sister to Migoli was Star Of Iran, the dam of the great Petite Etoile by Petition.
Mumtaz Mahal’s daughter Rustom Mahal by Rustom Pasha, a sire by Son-In-Law, was unraced but would do the family proud when she became the dam of Abernant by Owen Tudor. Rustom Pasha was very fast herself, in training, and was said by legendary jockey Sir Gordon Richards to be the fastest filly he ever rode. Abernant would become a champion at two winning the Champagne Stakes, Middle Park Stakes etc, and then be a champion sprinter winning the King George Stakes, the Nunthorpe Stakes and the July Stakes twice each. He added the King’s Stand Stakes during his championship season.
The sons of Mumtaz Mahal were actually more accomplished runners than her daughters, including Badruddin by Blandford (Sussex Stakes, Midsummer Stakes)and Mirza II by Blenheim. The latter was considered by Frank Butters as the fastest horse he ever trained. Brilliant at two, in keeping with the family tradition, Mirza II won the July Stakes, Coventry Stakes, and Bedford Stakes among his two year old victories. He won the Greenham Plate and was third in the 2000 Guineas before an injury would force him to retire from racing. Mirza II was retired to stud in France but was seized by the Nazis during World War II. He survived to be brought back to Britain after the end of the war and would sire Skylarking, the great grand dam of Ballade.
The family of Mumtaz Mahal has set numerous course and track records, generally at five and six furlong distances. Mumty herself set the course record at Newmarket in her first start, the five furlong Spring Stakes, covering the distance in 57:4/5 seconds. Her failure to last in the 1000 Guineas would likely be her one major disappointment in an otherwise successful life as a racer and broodmare.
Mumtaz Mahal is one of the most memorable and influential female Thoroughbreds, and the biggest asset to the Aga Khan III racing and breeding success. His grandson, the Aga Khan IV is still reaping the rewards from the purchase of the grey daughter of The Tetrarch his ancestor made way back in 1922. Mumtaz Mahal died in 1945 at the age of twenty-four.
(Photo courtesy of The Aga Khan archives)