The Founding of the Crabbet Tradition (Part II)

Copyright 1990 by Michael Bowling, used by permission
Originally published in Arabian Visions March/April 1990

Full Steam Ahead: 1899-1906

The 1898 Crabbet foal crop, which had jumped by 10 over that of 1897, marked a new peak in numbers and initiated an era of sustained production. The smallest foal crops at Crabbet would now hover around the pre-1898 record high of 14. In this period the new Ali Pasha Sherif mares were active, and the Mesaoud fillies came into serious production. The Rodania family was clearly established as the most numerous at Crabbet, achieving distinction in the 1906 season as the first to be represented by five breeding mares, even though Rose of Jericho, *Rose of Sharon and Rose Diamond had been sold; Dajania, Basilisk and Meshura were roughly tied for second. On the sire side activity was dominated almost entirely by Mesaoud and his sons although Ahmar and Nejran closed out the Azrek era, Mahruss GSB got one very significant foal and the newly-arrived Feysul sired his most important offspring in his first Crabbet crop. No one sire dominated the stallion battery in any year and the average foals per sire fell slightly to 11.5. The shape Crabbet breeding would take in the future was largely defined in this period, when Daoud, Rabla, *Astraled, Risala, Ajramieh, Rijm, *Berk, Riada, Riyala and Rasim were foaled. The number of Crabbet foals which would influence future breeding rose sharply, perhaps largely because stronger international demand was developing for stock to found stable new programs. The Crabbet foals reported dead in GSB fell to 10% of this era’s 149, and 33 made it into modern pedigrees.

The Blunts worked at maintaining tail-male descent from Azrek; when Ahmar was exported to Java they bought back Nefisa’s Azrek son Nejran and used him for three seasons, but he was to breed on through just one daughter. *Rose of Sharon had also produced a top-class Azrek colt in 1890; this was Rafyk, the foundation sire of Australian Arabian breeding and whose name is extensively repeated at the back of most traditional Australian mare lines. According to the 1924 Crabbet Stud Catalogue Lady Wentworth in her turn meant to reintroduce the Azrek sire line through the double Rafyk grandson Minaret, but if that horse actually reached England nothing came of the venture.

The remaining Ali Pasha Sherif mares proved uncertain producers at Crabbet; in no more than three seasons did as many as five or six of the 10 produce, although a few straggled out to 1910. Astonishingly, the crippled Bint Helwa overcame her broken leg to be the most reliable broodmare of the lot; she shares honors with Rodania as the only Blunt imported mare to leave family branches through three different daughters–hers Hilmyeh, Hamasa and *Ghazala, with the last-named bred by Ali Pasha Sherif but used at Sheykh Obeyd. Ironically this family did not persist at Crabbet though the Sheykh Obeyd and American daughters of *Ghazala, plus *Hazna, *Hamida and *Hilwe, all founded highly influential lines. When *Rose of Sharon went to Spencer Borden in 1905 she was in foal to Bint Helwa’s son Harb and produced *Rodan. That horse was to be the only link to Harb in modern pedigrees but he proved a strong one, siring such mares as Gulnare, Bazrah, Niht, Fath and Fenzileh and leaving a male line through Ghazi.

Makbula GSB left a branch through her daughter Kibla; this became an essentially American family when Kibla’s granddaughter *Namilla and great granddaughters *Kiyama and *Kareyma transplanted the line wholesale to the Selby Stud. Bint Helwa’s elder sister Johara left a small international family. Indirect lines breed on from Makbula’s imported daughter Kasida, Lady Anne Blunt’s favorite riding mare, in the important Egyptian mare sire Kasmeyn; from Fulana in her very handsome son Faraoun, another far back in Austalian mare lines; and from the magnificent Bint Nura GSB who had no fillies to live but produced the imported stallions Abu Khasheb and Mahruss GSB and the Crabbet colt Daoud. Daoud gave his dam indirect mare lines in spades; one Daoud son, Redif, survives in pedigrees through his own influential daughter Bint Ranya.

Mesaoud established his male line more firmly before his 1903 sale to Russian Poland, though not via Daoud; *Astraled, Nejef, Harb and Nadir joined Seyal among the future sire branch founders. *Astraled, half-brother to Ahmar and Asfura, was the last foal of Queen of Sheba, who had become the most highly regarded of the Blunt desert mares. She lived to 25 and produced 10 foals but had only two daughters of record. Queen of Egypt died as a yearling; Asfura’s daughter Ajramieh did establish the family as a respected one that has always been small in numbers. Queen of Sheba has strong indirect influence; besides the Ahmar daughters already named, *Astraled and his sons Rustem, Razaz, Sotamm and Gulastra all were top sires of broodmares. Queen of Sheba’s name is another to be repeated in pedigrees with remarkable frequency, and the most international Mesaoud sire branch, that of *Astraled via Sotamm to Riffal and Oran, was notable for its Queen of Sheba reinforcement. Mesaoud had one major son outside Crabbet; the beautiful Azrek mare Rose Diamond was sold to the Hon. George Savile in 1903 and duly presented him the next year with Lal I Abdar (*Abu Zeyd), another from whom the male line persists.

Two new Ali Pasha Sherif sire lines were established at Crabbet in this phase. Mahruss GSB, chiefly a riding stallion, bred just four Arab mares in England; he sent *Ibn Mahruss to America en utero and got one Crabbet foal: *Rose of Sharon’s mighty son Rijm. That massive chestnut was admired for his scope, presence, freedom of stride and excellence of shoulder, back and loin. Before his sale to Spain Rijm contributed to the Crabbet tradition as sire of the breeding stallions *Nasik, Fakreddin and *Nureddin II; of the widely influential daughters Nessima, Fejr, *Noam, Belka and *Rijma; and of the great early endurance gelding *Crabbet. *Noam and Belka also distinguished themselves under saddle. Feysul came from Sheykh Obeyd with his son Ibn Yashmak late in 1904 and promptly sired the impressively smooth 1906 chestnut Rasim. Rasim served as a riding stallion for his first 11 years and narrowly missed going off as a charger with Neville Lytton in the First World War. His two eldest daughters were key figures of the Kellogg importation and Rasim became extremely influential in the Wentworth years.

The important mares foaled in this era included Ahmar’s Hilmyeh and Namusa, Rish by Nejran, and good daughters of the Mesaoud sons Rejeb, Seyal and Narkise, but if this was the dawn of a new day the sunlight radiated from superb daughters of Mesaoud and *Astraled. Feluka, dam of the Rijm siblings Fejr (to produce *Felestin; *Sulejman’s and Rasim Pierwszy’s dam Fasila; Faris, sire of Rissalix; Ferhan, sire of Indian Gold; and Fayal) and the Australian sire Fakreddin; of the greatest Kellogg foundation mare, *Ferda; and after her sale to H. V. Musgrave Clark of Fasiha, established the Ferida line with a vengeance. If Narghileh was not the greatest Mesaoud daughter then that honor must go to Ridaa’s 1900 filly Risala, dam of Rasim, *Rijma, Rissla, Razieh (Bint Rissala), Risfan (South America) and Rafina, a line foundress in Australia; few sires have ever had the equivalent of an *Astraled and a Risala in the same crop, as Mesaoud did in 1900. Rosemary produced two full sisters, the bay Rabla and brown Riada; the former founded an exuberant family still noted for action horses and the latter died of twisted gut, leaving just one breeding offspring, but that was Rayya, dam of *Raseyn. The records of the handsome grey Kibla, Ajramieh and Hamasa look pale in this company but each founded a major line in the breed.

A case could be made that Daoud and *Astraled, with fewer daughters, were better mare sires than Mesaoud. It must be remembered that all three were extensively used on mares of, by this time, highly selected Crabbet families; and above all that their daughters profited from a coherent, established context in which to operate. Riyala, the most important *Astraled mare of this period, produced Ranya, dam of Bint Ranya and the persistent Spanish influence Razada; Rafeef, sire of Nezma, *Rasafa and the superlative Risslina; the prolific Risama (Bint Riyala); the Hanstead matron Razina, the broodmare of her generation in England, granddam of Indian Magic, *Serafix, *Silver Drift, *Iorana, Bright Shadow, Namilla, Oran, Sala and *Count Dorsaz just to start the list; Ramayana, sold to Poland with Fasila and represented by Polish and Russian families today; Ruellia, who sent a son Riyalan to Australia and then went to Tersk; and Raftan, sire of Naseel, Ariffa and Doonyah. Rokhama by *Astraled bred on through just one daughter but that was *Rokhsa, who founded one of the greatest Maynesboro and Kellogg families.

Partition and The War Years: 1907 – 1918

The first foal crop for the partitioned Crabbet and Newbuildings mares arrived in 1907. Wilfrid Blunt’s chief sires in the Newbuildings half were to be *Astraled, Rijm, Harb, Ibn Yashmak and Rustem; Lady Anne at Crabbet had Feysul, Daoud, *Berk, Razaz, Sotamm and *Nasik (not all these were active as early as 1907). Blunt breeding presents a considerably more complicated picture from this point. Under the terms of partition, Crabbet and Newbuildings mares could be sent to sires standing in the alternate half, and no breeding animal (current or potential) could be sold without approval of the other side. In practice it developed that when Blunt needed money, Newbuildings horses which Lady Anne would be unwilling to see sold appeared on his sales list; and when Lady Anne wished to use a Newbuildings sire she bought or traded for him or one of his sons.

The foals reported dead in GSB for this period fell to just over 8% (14 out of 167) and 54 of the remaining 167 are in modern pedigrees–some of them very prominently indeed. Rodania now reigned supreme; Dajania’s family was a distant second while the Seglawi Meshura and Basilisk lines were fading as Sobha picked up speed. Average number of foals per sire at this period was still about 13. With substantial numbers of mares in production and some of the great sires of its history at their peak of activity, and with the individual geniuses of the two Blunts operating independently from a base of nearly 30 years’ observation of Crabbet breeding trends, it would be surprising if this period did not turn out some of Crabbet’s greatest products. Do not expect to be surprised.

One major sire exported in this period was *Astraled, who went to Lothrop Ames in Massachusetts in 1909; American Arabian breeding was not ready for a sire of this caliber and *Astraled landed in Oregon as a Remount sire, leaving just a handful of foals in New England. *Astraled became a legendary sire of crossbred using horses in his new home only to be called back to the place that had been prepared for him by W.R. Brown in 1923, in time to sire the great Gulastra in his last crop. Note that for the Blunts *Astraled got Riyala, Rustem, Rim and *Ramla from *Rose of Sharon’s daughter Ridaa; the only breeding *Astraled offspring from his early New England years was Kheyra, out of Ridaa’s half-sister Rosa Rugosa; and at Maynesboro Gulastra came from a daughter of Ridaa’s half-brother *Rodan.

It was during the years of partition that *Astraled got his important Crabbet sons, Razaz, Rustem and Sotamm. Rustem remained at Newbuildings where he got Rustnar, *Ferda, Arusa, Rayya and *Simawa. Rayya produced *Raseyn and *Ferda is in a class by herself among the Kellogg matrons, while *Simawa proved one of the best mares of the Maynesboro importation. Lady Anne used Razaz and Sotamm; the former sired important mares while the latter got the Australian mare sire Rief and Kasmeyn, a mare sire in his own right in Egypt (maternal grandsire of *Bint Bint Sabbah and Nazeer just for two), and Naufal who sired other foals beyond Riffal though that was his great success. Riffal left the important sire Oran in England along with the good mares Samsie, Nariffa, Quaker Girl (herself exported to Australia), Rubiana and *Mihrima (Canada); his sons The Chief and *Victory Day II bred on in the Netherlands and Canada respectively while the Riffal influence through his Australian get is incalculable.

*Astraled could have sired no colts and done very well for himself through daughters; his post-partition Newbuildings fillies included Rim and Selima, two of the breed’s dynastic matrons. Rim produced the likes of *Ramim, dam of Rehal and Ramghaza; *Rifla, dam of *Rifda, Rifnas and Shemseh; the ill-fated *Raswan, sire at Crabbet of Ferhan, *Rose of France and Star of the Hills (his only get), “World’s Champion” Raseem, one of the great mare sires of British history, though at Tersk he was surpassed by his daughter Rixalina; Naharin’s dam *Rimini; the Selby import *Rahal; *Rimal, a colt of remarkable beauty, gelded after his Kellogg importation; Rix, sire of *Ashan, *Crown of India, Radiolex and Shimrix; and *Nizzam’s and Niseyra’s sire Rissam. Selima’s noted foals do not match Rim’s for numbers but their influence spread extravagantly; all her breeding offspring were exported but her British influence remained substantial. Shareer, another “World’s Champion,” left Rythal, Rytham, Rythama and Sharima behind when he went to Russia accompanied by his great daughter Rissalma (in fact Rythal already was in Holland and Rytham went along on the Tersk trip but left the tremendously influential Sharfina, his only British foal, at Crabbet en utero). Shareer’s sister Sardhana produced *Crabbet Sura in England and founded a mare line in Poland when she accompanied Rasim, Fasila and Ramayana to Baron Bicker’s stud. Star of the Hills left Starilla to represent her in England (which she did ably through her son Saladin II) when Star traveled to Russia, where she founded one of the most important Tersk families. The Selby colt *Selmian was not used in England – he was sold at age three – but he got Selfra, Selmiana and Ibn Selmian among others.

(Appendix: Minor Pedigree Lines from Imported Blunt Mares)

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