The Case of the Missing Rustem

Copyright 1997 by R.J. CADRANELL
from Arabian Visions Sept/Oct 1997
Used by permission of RJ Cadranell

221b Baker Street: “We met next day and inspected the rooms at 221b Baker Street and at once entered into possession.” — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet

Fifteen or more years ago I acquired a reprint of the 1917 catalog of England’s Crabbet Arabian Stud. The catalog for the 1917 season gives details of the Crabbet Stud as it was at the end of 1916. It lists all of the broodmares, stallions, and young stock — 81 horses in all.

Back in 1906, the Crabbet Stud’s founders, Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt, had separated. They divided the stud, after which Wilfrid Blunt managed his “Newbuildings Half” apart from Lady Anne’s “Crabbet Half.”

The 1917 catalog seemed to list both halves of the stud. But I noticed a glaring omission: where was Rustem? Lady Anne Lytton remembered Rustem as “a very favorite stallion”[1] of her grandfather Wilfrid Blunt, and Rustem had been one of the Crabbet Arabian Stud’s chief sires from the time he was three.

Then I noticed another gap: where was Abla? Rosemary Archer had written in The Crabbet Arabian Stud, Its History and Influence: “Abla became Wilfrid Blunt’s favorite riding mare.” The catalog included Abla’s 1915 filly Arusa, but Abla herself was absent.

A pattern was emerging: both missing animals were favorites of Wilfrid Blunt’s. But all the rest of the Newbuildings horses–among them Ibn Yashmak and *Nureddin II–seemed to be included.

Years later I had a chance to study additional Crabbet Stud catalogs from the Partition years. The available catalogs–for 1907, 1908, 1909, 1911, 1912, 1914, 1915, and 1916–list just the horses in Lady Anne’s Crabbet Half. There is also a 1913 catalog, with a slightly modified format, listing just the Newbuildings Half. Comparing these to the 1917 catalog indicates that the two halves were united during 1916, with Wilfrid Blunt retaining his two favorites, Rustem and Abla.

But a reunited Crabbet Stud ran counter to what I had always understood of its history. Hadn’t Wilfrid and Lady Anne failed to reach an agreement on the future of the stud when they met in 1915? Didn’t Blunt manage his portion separately right until Lady Anne died at the end of 1917? Didn’t the existence of two halves at the time of Lady Anne’s death fuel the lawsuit fought between Blunt and his daughter Judith (Lady Wentworth) over the ownership of the horses? I decided to scan Rosemary Archer’s book again, looking for clues, and found the following passage:

On October 13th [1915], Lady Anne signed the “new stud agreement which makes me sole owner” of the Crabbet Arabian Stud. Blunt, however, refused to sign it, alleging that it contained a “dangerous” clause… He nevertheless appears to have acquiesced in the new arrangement; five months later, in March, 1916, he and Caffin [agent for both the Crabbet and Newbuildings estates] were planning the removal to Crookhorn [a farm Blunt owned near Newbuildings] of what remained of the Newbuildings section of the Stud, on the following Saturday “which is Lady Day when my separate ownership of it comes to a final end” (p. 150).

Later in 1916 when Lady Anne prepared the Crabbet Stud catalog for the 1917 season, she added 23 Newbuildings horses (see sidebar) to what she had owned the year before. This bolsters Lady Wentworth’s claim in her Authentic Arabian Horse that “in 1915 the whole remaining stock was repurchased by, or made over to, Crabbet Park.”

These horses afford a look at a decade of selection by Wilfrid Blunt, apart from Lady Anne. Even though each party had the right to use the other’s stallions without fee, these horses show a high concentration of the Newbuildings sires: Rijm and *Astraled from the years immediately after the Partition; Ibn Yashmak and Rustem later on. The stallions Lady Anne used during the Partition — in particular Daoud and *Berk — are scarcely represented at all.

Many bloodlines were duplicated, of course: Newbuildings had *Nureddin II and Nessima, while the Crabbet Half had their full brother *Nasik. Crabbet had Feysul, and Newbuildings had his son Ibn Yashmak. Crabbet had Rustem’s full sisters Rim and Riyala. Newbuildings had Selima, while Crabbet had her full brother Sotamm.

Other bloodlines were unique to one half or the other. Lady Anne had lost the Queen of Sheba family in tail-female, for example. Newbuildings also had the stud’s only remaining descendants of the imported mares Ferida and Meshura. And Lady Anne had bloodlines Wilfrid lacked, for example the lines from Basilisk, Bint Helwa, and Rosemary.

Anyone could be proud of the record of several of the Newbuildings-bred horses Wilfrid Blunt turned over to Lady Anne in 1916. *Nureddin II became an influential sire under Lady Wentworth’s ownership of the stud. *Ferda left a daughter in England, then was sold to California’s Kellogg Ranch in 1926, where she was arguably that program’s single most important foundation mare. *Nafia and *Felestin were imported to the U.S. in 1918, where they left descent. Fejr, Nessima, and Selima became broodmares for Lady Wentworth. Fejr’s sons became important in England, but she also had a daughter sent to Poland, where she produced *Sulejman. Selima had foals exported to Russia (Star of the Hills), Poland (Sardhana), and the U.S. (*Selmian) — all became influential.

The Newbuildings Half

Horses from Wilfrid Blunt appearing in the 1917 Crabbet catalog
stallions & colts
Ibn Yashmak 1902 Feysul/Yashmak
*Nureddin II 1911 Mesaoud/Kasida
Kamar 1913 Rustem/Kartara
Najib 1914 Rustem/Narghileh
Fauzan 1914 Rustem/Feluka
Fantass 1915 Rustem/Feluka
Karun 1915 Rustem/Kantara
mares & fillies
Feluka 1899 Mesaoud/Ferida
Kantara 1901 Mesaoud/Kasida
Ajramieh 1901 Mesaoud/Asfura
Selima 1908 *Astraled/Selma
Nessima 1909 Rijm/Narghileh
*Ramla 1909 *Astraled/Ridaa
Fejr 1911 Rijm/Feluka
*Kerbela 1911 Ibn Yashmak/Kantara
Marhaba 1911 Daoud/Feluka
*Ferda 1913 Rustem/Feluka
Ajjam 1915 Ibn Yashmak/Ajramieh
Arusa 1915 Rustem/Abla
foals of 1916
Fursan colt Rustem/Feluka
*Nafia colt Ibn Yashmak/Nessima
Mabruk colt Ibn Yashmak/Marhaba
*Felestin filly Ibn Yashmak/Fejr
  1. [1]Lady Anne Lytton quoted in Mary Jane Parkingon’s The Kellogg Arabian Ranch, the First Fifty Years, p. 67.