Copyright 1997 by R.J. CADRANELL
from Arabian Visions Mar/Apr 1997
Used by permission of RJ Cadranell
Next to Crabbet, no English stud has been as important as Hanstead. Hanstead’s worldwide influence is particularly remarkable in light of the relatively short time it was in operation—not even 35 years of breeding—and the relatively small number of foals produced. There were barely 125, while Crabbet had more than a thousand spread over 93 years.
The Hanstead Stud owed its origin to Lady Yule, wife of merchant prince Sir David Yule. He and his brother Andrew amassed a fortune in India, estimated at up to 20 million pounds. David and Annie Henrietta Yule were married in 1900. Sir David Yule and his wife had just one child, a daughter named Gladys, born at Hanstead House in 1903. The Hanstead estate was in Hertfordshire, and there Lady Yule and her daughter Gladys took to breeding Thoroughbreds and Suffolk Punch horses, along with cattle and other livestock. Sir David Yule died in 1928 and is not known to figure directly in the story of the Hanstead Stud.
Lady Yule “first became interested in Arabs on seeing the gallant carriage and action of a pair of Arabs regularly driven to York, from his home, by Major Wailes-Fairburn.”
Lady Yule wanted to try her hand at Anglo-Arab breeding, thus on July 11, 1925, she and her daughter Gladys visited Lady Wentworth’s Arabian stud at Crabbet Park. That year at Hanstead the Thoroughbred mare Tarantella produced a filly by the Crabbet stallion *Nasik; this may have been the cause of Lady Yule’s visit to Crabbet. But before the day was out, Lady Yule had purchased a young Arab mare named Razina. Razina had been sold to Ireland but recently repurchased by Crabbet in foal to the Thoroughbred stallion Mighty Power. It is not clear whether Lady Yule liked Razina’s looks or was simply interested in her anticipated Anglo-Arab foal. Nonetheless Arabian breeders around the world can be glad Lady Yule chose the mare she did.
Razina later won five gold medals, establishing Hanstead as a power in the show ring. Razina’s broodmare career, however, established her place in history. After producing the Anglo-Arab filly Razzia in 1926, Razina was never mated to another Thoroughbred.
Razina was not covered in 1926 because of a railway strike, but in 1927 Lady Yule sent her to the Arabian stallion Almulid (Skowronek x Alfarouse), bred and owned by the Hon. Mrs. R. E. L. Vaughan Williams. The resulting filly, Rasana, soon joined her mother as a Hanstead broodmare, bringing the Arabian mare band to a total of two. Rasana turned out to be a poor mother whose foals had to be raised by hand; she was put down in 1937, and her two fillies not retained.
Lady Wentworth was unhappy when she learned Lady Yule was using Razina for purebred breeding. For the next several years, Lady Yule sent her mares to outside stallions, but did not have access to those at Crabbet. Instead she used horses of entirely or largely Crabbet blood. These horses included C.W. Hough’s Nuri Sherif (*Nureddin II x Sheeba) and Akal (Shelook x Almas), and Capt. the Hon. George Savile’s Joseph (Nadir x Maisuna). Of the six foals produced in these early years, only Nurschida (Nuri Sherif x Razina) had influence on the later Hanstead program. Through her sire, Nurschida carried one line to Miss Dillon’s imported stallion Maidan, thus was not quite “pure Crabbet,” although like all Hanstead Arabians, Nurschida was registered in the Arabian section of Weatherby’s General Stud Book (GSB).
In 1932 the Hanstead mare band expanded. Mr. and Mrs. Kent, known to the pony breeding fraternity, visited Crabbet and purchased two young mares. In less than a week the mares turned up at Hanstead. They were chestnut Astrella (Raseem x Amida) and grey Naxina (Skowronek x Nessima). Lady Wentworth had used a similar ploy to acquire Skowronek in 1920. The ice between Lady Wentworth and Lady Yule broke not long after this episode, and in 1933 Lady Yule sent all five of her Arabian mares to Crabbet for breeding.
The 1934 foal crop included Hanstead’s first sire prospects, the greys Raktha and Grey Owl. Of the two colts produced prior to 1934, Halil Sherif was gelded “as he had not got a perfect Arab head or eyes.” He was hunted with the Heythrop Hunt in 1933-34, jumping anything asked, and later took up dressage, giving a performance at the International Horse Show, Olympia. Kehelan was sold to Scotland for crossing on Highland mares. He proved infertile, and later found a home with the Bertram Mills Circus. After that he became the first Arabian owned by Mrs. Linney, later a well known breeder in England, and owner of another Yule-bred horse: Mikeno, purchased in 1952.
It could be debated endlessly whether the Yules had a knack for choosing sires, or whether they simply had in Razina the beginning of a mare family with which it was scarcely possible to go wrong. Probably both were factors. According to Miss Yule’s companion and stud manager, Miss Patricia Wold, Gladys Yule believed in using only the best sires and wanted the Arab Horse Society to inspect the conformation and type of all stallions before approving them for breeding.
To return to Raktha, he swept the show ring in 1937, and that year it was noted that “much interest and amusement has been caused by the various opinions as to which is the best, Grey Owl or Raktha.” Although Grey Owl did leave several lines, 60 years of breeding have proven Raktha the more influential of the two. Lady Wentworth bought Raktha in 1939, and from 1940 until his sale to South Africa in 1951 he was one of Crabbet’s chief sires.
During the 1930s the Hanstead mares continued to visit outside stallions. Lady Yule patronized Crabbet’s Naseem, Raseem, Faris, Naufal, and Naziri. Lady Yule is the only outside breeder recorded in the stud books as sending a mare to Naseem. Rosemary Archer explains this was because no other breeders in England could afford the high stud fees Lady Wentworth charged at that time for her best stallions.
In 1936 two more sire prospects were born at Hanstead: Riffal (of whom more later) and Naseel. Naseel was a classic 14.1 hand grey, sold as a yearling to Mrs. Nicholson in Ireland. Describing Naseel as a riding horse, she wrote in the Spring, 1960, Arab Horse Society News,
“I was thrilled. I had never ridden an Arab horse before, let alone a stallion, and I just couldn’t believe the joy that he gave me.”
Naseel became a successful sire of children’s show ponies as well as purebreds. Naseel’s sire was Raftan (Naseem x Riyala), bred at Crabbet but owned elsewhere. Naseel was invited to make a special appearance at the Arab Horse Society’s 1956 Summer Show, where he and his progeny paraded in front of the Queen.
Another outside horse Hanstead used in the 1930s was George Ruxton’s Algol (Dwarka x Amida), who sired Namilla for Lady Yule. The last time an outside stallion was used was 1939, when Razina and Nurschida went to Shihab (Algol x Almas).
In 1938 or 1939 Lady Yule acquired the last of her foundation mares by trading Ghezala to Lady Wentworth for the Rissam daughter Niseyra. Through her son Blue Domino, Niseyra was to be just as important as the earlier acquisitions.
Lady Yule seems to have brought home no more than three stallions in her entire career as a breeder. One was Radi, the foal Razina had had in 1925. He was acquired from Crabbet during the early part of the war years and was used at Hanstead before returning to Crabbet. Lady Yule seems to have made a special effort to work Rissam into the herd. In 1940, five out of the six Yule mares were bred to Rissam. No other Hanstead sire ever dominated a single foal crop to this extent. Only Rissam’s daughter Niseyra had a 1941 foal by a different horse, although Lady Yule would try her with Rissam the following year—the only close inbreeding at Hanstead recorded in the stud books.
Although Radi and Rissam each sired a few important foals at Hanstead, the most brilliant acquisition was Rissalix (Faris x Rissla), purchased from Crabbet in 1940. Known for his quality and brilliant action, a better cross for the Hanstead mares could scarcely have been found. Yet another example of Hanstead’s worldwide success despite tiny numbers, Rissalix sired fewer than 20 Yule-bred foals of record, but they include such as *Count Dorsaz, Blue Domino, Mikeno, and Pale Shadow (dam of Bright Shadow). Rissalix was one of the few horses Lady Wentworth later regretted selling, but owing to labor shortages after the start of the war it was necessary to reduce the number of stallions at Crabbet.
The decade of cooperation between Crabbet and Hanstead came to a close toward the end of the war. Lady Yule tried to buy from Crabbet a colt named Indian Grey, full brother to Indian Magic, but Lady Wentworth refused to sell. In 1943, shortly after, Lady Wentworth made an offer on Oran, but Lady Yule retaliated and turned it down. Instead, she sold Oran to Mr. C. McConnell in 1944, who sold him to the British Bloodstock Agency, which sold him to Lady Wentworth later the same year. When Lady Yule learned that Oran was at Crabbet, relations were broken off. Oran did leave his daughter Umatella at Hanstead, but it was at Crabbet, where his blood was frequently combined with Raktha’s, that he achieved his fame as a sire.
Crabbet and Hanstead emerged from the war years as rivals, both in the show ring and the marketplace. The stud was now under the direction of Miss Gladys Yule, as Lady Yule gave the horses to her daughter in 1946. Lady Yule died on July 14, 1950.
In the post-war years Hanstead was a mature stud, with a band of 10 to 15 mares and a battery of homebred stallions standing alongside and later succeeding Rissalix and Radi. In addition to Grey Owl, these included:
Riffal, a brown horse foaled 1936, and already a show winner as a yearling. He matured to 16 hands and a quarter inch. Because most of his Hanstead career took place during the war years, his opportunity at stud was limited, but true to the Hanstead pattern, he achieved much with his few foals, which included Oran. In 1947 Mrs. Maclean bought him and the young mare Carlina for her stud in Australia. Riffal became a major influence there.
Suvorov (Rissalix x Razina), as a son of Hanstead’s most influential foundation mare and stallion, might have proven an important sire, but he was not fertile.
Sala (Grey Owl x Hama) was grey, sold to the New South Wales Department of Agriculture and exported to Australia in 1949. There he sired more than 100 foals, and has perpetuated the rare male line of Crabbet foundation sire Feysul.
*Count Dorsaz (Rissalix x Shamnar) was one of the many Hanstead horses exhibited under saddle. At the Royal International Horse Show he was twice awarded the Winston Churchill Cup for the supreme riding horse. He inherited and passed on a full measure of the Rissalix action. By 1956 he had also won nine first prizes in hand.
General Grant (Raktha x Samsie) carried two crosses to Razina and was typical of what may be thought of as Hanstead type: a deep-bodied horse of quality, good balance and substance, and obvious Arabian character. General Grant was later owned by the Hedleys. He sired many British champions.
Blue Domino (Rissalix x Niseyra) ranks among the most famous horses bred at Hanstead. Although not tracing to Razina, he seems to have had much the same proportions as, for example, General Grant. This stamp of horse is also apparent in Rissam, Blue Domino’s grandsire. A dark chestnut color, Blue Domino won acclaim in the show ring as a young horse and sired a long list of internationally influential horses. A 1956 Hanstead ad noted that his “stock are very promising, good movers with good heads.”
*Count Orlando (*Count Dorsaz x Umatella) was the Arab Horse Society’s Junior Male Champion in 1954, and was awarded the Winston Churchill Cup in 1956. He was sold to the United States in 1960.
Count Manilla (*Count Dorsaz x Namilla) represented several generations of Hanstead breeding on both sides of his pedigree. He won first prize stallion under saddle at Roehampton in 1956. Count Manilla was sold to Australia in 1957, where he sired about 80 foals.
Rifaria (Rifari x Meccana, by Riffal) was another horse who stood at Hanstead in the 1950s. He was one of the few outcrosses Gladys Yule introduced.
Iridos (Irex x Rafeena) was a son of one of the two new mares Gladys Yule added to the stud. In 1950 Rafeena arrived with her Irex filly, *Reenexa. She was in foal to Irex again, and produced the grey colt Iridos in 1951.
*Minta was Gladys Yule’s other addition to the stud. A granddaughter of Rissam and Irex, she was less an outcross than an added source of lines already tried in the stud.
Lady Wentworth never had much room for visiting mares, so smaller breeders in England were grateful to Miss Gladys Yule for making available stallions like Rissalix, General Grant, *Count Dorsaz, and Blue Domino to the public.
During the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, Hanstead joined Crabbet and Courthouse in dominating the British show ring. A look at Deirdre Hyde’s 40 Years of British Arab Horse Champions shows nine of the first 40 titles going to horses bred by the Yules. An additional 17 winners had a parent bred at Hanstead. Only four horses (Dargee, Bahram, Sirella, and Celina) were without any Yule-bred ancestors. Many of Crabbet’s winners were sired by Oran or Raktha. And just as Hanstead had sent these two important sires to Crabbet, Hanstead also sent one to Courthouse. This was Champurrado, the first foal Niseyra produced for Lady Yule.
Gladys Yule served as president of the Arab Horse Society in 1949. She was also chairman of the Ponies of Britain Club, helping to preserve Britain’s native pony breeds. She strongly believed in Anglo-Arabs as superior horses for hunting, dressage, or eventing, and continued to breed these alongside her Arabians and Thoroughbreds. She also bred Jersey and Aberdeen Angus cattle.
Early in 1957 an article in the Arab Horse Society News noted that 20 Hanstead Arabs had been sold overseas: four to Australia, 11 to South Africa, three to Holland, and two to Canada. Nor was there any shortage of promising young stock in 1957. The young stallions coming on included the show winners Blue Grotto and Samson, as well as *Little Owl: “Miss Yule has been longing to have a colt foal by Grey Owl, who has produced a long list of fillies through the years, so let us hope Little Owl will develop the presence and character of his magnificent sire.”
Among the young mares and fillies, the late Queen Zenobia’s daughters *Zulima, Zena, and *Princess Zia were admired, of which *Princess Zia was probably the most decorated in the show ring.
When Lady Wentworth died in August of 1957, Gladys Yule remarked “now we can go back to Crabbet.” But it was not to be. Within a few weeks she had also died. The estate taxes owed were reported in the Daily Mail to be in excess of 3 million pounds under headline “Last of a vanishing 20,000,000 pound fortune may go in taxes.” It was necessary to reduce the stud. The single largest group sold, consisting of about 14 head, went to Bazy Tankersley’s Al-Marah Arabians in the United States before the year was out. At the same time, Mrs. Tankersley purchased a similarly large group from Lady Wentworth’s executors, making it the single largest importation to arrive in America up to that time.
Miss Wolf sent a letter published in the Arab Horse Society News for autumn, 1958, explaining the situation with the remaining horses:
“I was left options on some Thoroughbreds, Arabs and Anglo-Arabs and therefore I retained in a small way some of the best of each. Since then foals have increased in number and it will not be long before there are more foals on the way and so I have felt that I must sell some more horses… These are to be sold by auction on November 27th here at Hanstead when all the saddlery, stable and stud equipment are sold…. I shall be moving to Aylesbury…. All the horses and the stud I retain are the property of the Exors. of the late Miss G.M. Yule and so for the time being I shall be the Manager.”
Many breeders in England established or added to their studs at the 1958 Hanstead auction. *Count Dorsaz was leased that year to Mrs. Tankersley, who bought him later. He proved an important sire for Al-Marah, and was later joined by *Ranix (a son of Rissalix and out of the Hanstead mare *Iorana).
By 1959 Gladys Yule’s band of 15 broodmares had been reduced to three. Of these Rafeena died the next year at age 20, and Umatella and Azella each produced one Blue Domino filly for Miss Wolf before moving on to new homes.
Finally just Blue Domino was left. He lived out his days surrounded by Miss Wolf’s Thoroughbreds and Anglo-Arabs, succumbing to intestinal cancer in October of 1966. But by then Hanstead breeding was firmly established in Arabian studbooks around the world.
Rosemary Archer, Colin Pearson, and Cecil Covey, The Crabbet Arabian Stud, Its History and Influence
Deirde Hyde, 40 Years of British Arab Horse Champions
Erika Schiele, The Arab Horse in Europe, section on Hanstead.
Rosemary Archer, “The Hanstead Stud,” Arabians, September 1984, p. 128.
Michael Bowling, “Razina at the Hanstead Stud” in CMK Record, spring 1991.
The Arab Horse Society News, issues from 1956 to 1960.
Undated clipping from the Daily Mail.
The General Stud Book; stud books of the Arabian Horse Registry of America and Arab Horse Society.