From Needham Market to Oyster Bay Part I

This entry is part [part not set] of 2 in the series Needham Market

by Thornton Chard

from The Horse May-Jun 1942

Such horses are
The jewels of the horsemen’s hand and thighs,
They go by the word and hardly need the rein

John Brown’s Body, Book v.

Kismet, Garaveen, Maidan. The mention of these horse notables in Mr. Albert W. Harris’ timely article, “Arabs for the Remount,” in the November-December The Horse, where he describes the Remount’s plan of a separate stud for breeding pure-bred Arabs, prompts this review of the circumstances of the arrival of the descendants of some of these particular individuals, and of some of their kin, in the United States. For it is owing, in part, to them that the Remount is able to carry out its plan so important to the future horse stock of the Western Hemisphere; and possibly of Europe too.

In 1875 the late Major Roger D. Upton, author of Newmarket and Arabia [1] and of Gleanings from the Desert of Arabia,[2] having been commissioned by Albert G. Sandemen, M.P., and Henry Chaplin, M.P., brought from the Desert to England, among other horses, four individuals: a chestnut colt, the horse Yataghan and the mares Zulieka and Haidee. The cost of his importation was $62,000 in gold.[3]

“Upton himself selected [these horses] from the Gomussa with the assistance of their Chief who was the greatest man and the greatest authority on horses among the Bedouins. The Gomussa breed none but pure horses.”[4]

As a result of the mating of Haidee and Yataghan, the chestnut filly Naomi was born in England in 1876. And, with her importation to the United States, in 1888, by Randolph Huntington, the first opportunity, since Keene Richards’ time, to breed pure Arabs, in a serious and intelligent way, was made use of by Huntington who, convinced of the necessity of the Arab “yeast,” saw his chance by reason of the previous arrival of General Grant’s two Eastern horses Leopard and Linden Tree.

In the following letter Huntington tells how he acquired Naomi:

“It was by accident that I got the mare Naomi. Capt. Upton died; then the Rev. Vidal got her, (5) and as Vidal was about to be retired from his living, it was proposed by Lady Anne Blunt and the Hon Etheldred Dillon that he let me have her. Immediately he offered her to me (it is true the price was strong) I accepted her by cable. After I got her over I was offered three prices for her return. I even had offers for her from Algiers; but I did not buy her to sell but to breed….” (6)

That Naomi’s value was known in England is shown by a letter to Vidal from W.S.Blunt who wrote:

“I think the idea of changing a mare is a good one and I should like to send someone down to see Naomi. I have two mares that I shall be willing to part with this year, and perhaps a third…. I hope if you are coming this way you will pay us another visit at Crabbet this summer and in the meantime if we can come to an arrangement for exchanging I shall be very glad as I know the breeding of your mare must be correct.” (7)

Vidal sent to Huntington a copy of Blunt’s letter on which Vidal wrote: “The exchange did not come off because I did not consider either of the three [Blunt] mares as equal to Naomi.”

As already mentioned, Naomi arrived in America (Rochester, N.Y.) in 1888. She was not bred in 1889, but in 1890 Huntington made use of General Grant’s horse Leopard by whom she produced the chestnut colt Anazeh. (7a) He was her fifth foal, as she had already produced four in England, the fourth having been the chestnut filly Nazli by the desert-bred steeple-chase Arab Maidan.

At this point a slight digression is necessary in order to show how some of Naomi’s offspring in England were bred to a famous desert-bred Arab sire and how his and some of Naomi’s descendants got to the United States; and a few other things.

The “cloth” (8) has contributed more sportsmen to England than to America, so, it is not surprising to learn that the famous desert-bred racing Arab Kismet was owned by the rector of Creeting St. Mary, the Rev. F. Furse Vidal, through whose good offices he was rented to and imported by Huntington to die a few hours after landing in New York. (9)

This tragedy in the horse world temporarily delayed the important and patriotic plans of Huntington who not only intended to breed pure Arabs, but, by uniting the bloods of Arab and Clay, sought to give the United States a national horse built on blood as good if not better than that from which the English thoroughbred was created. (10) However, the delay was brief, for, with typical courage he at once opened negotiations again with Vidal for the purchase and importation of more of the same blood in a group of individuals comprising Nazli, daughter of Naomi, Garaveen, Naomi’s grandson and Nazli’s son Nimr. (11)

As both Garaveen and Nimr were sons of Kismet his loss, though tragic in its dramatic suddenness and because of his remarkable turf career, was not irreparable, for, luckily these sons were living and available; and, under the devoted personal supervision of Vidal the group landed safely, in New York, the spring of 1893 (12)

So, in the year 1893 the United States could boast of the blood of the desert-bred Yataghan in his daughter Naomi, in his granddaughter Nazli and in his great grandsons Nimr and Garaveen; and of the blood of the desert-bred Kismet in his sons Nimr and Garaveen; and of Naomi herself and her blood in her daughter Nazli and in her grandsons Nimr and Garaveen. Besides the blood mentioned there was that of Blunt’s highly prized Saqlawi Jidrani horse Kars in Garaveen and of Miss Dillon’s desert-bred Muniqi-Hadruj horse Maidan in Nazli and Nimr. All in all a closely related group mostly of the Muniqi-Hadruj strain of which Carl Raswan says:

“The Miniqi-Hadruj of the Kismet, Maidan, Naomi, Khaled, Nimr, Yataghan, Haidee blood lines are the most important in America as far as speed, size and bigger bone are concerned.” (13)

Vidal’s opinion of the blood value of the group of horses that Huntington imported and his regret at having to part with them was frankly expressed in a letter to Huntington in which he wrote:

“Since getting your letter which concluded our bargain [the purchase of Nazli, Nimr and Garaveen] I have received an offer of LB 2,000 for Nimr; and had there been time I perhaps should have asked you to let me off. But, on consideration, I feel satisfied that it is as well as it is—(tho’, of course, the difference in price is a serious consideration to me) I am happy to think he will be in the hands of such a thorough believer in the value of blood, as you—than that he should be lost in the general crowd.

“Dear Mr. Huntington, you are now receiving the fruits of 35 years of careful study, expenditure and experience. Alas! Alas! that it should come to this. One soweth but another reapeth. You will have the finest strain of blood that has ever come out of the desert and it should be your task to preserve it pure for the use of future generations.” (14)

Huntington in his letters and in his stud bills always stressed the fact that he had a group of horses “of one family blood” and it was his intention always to preserve a group whose blood was “intensified” by being interbred in the same family. And, when it is recalled that at this date little was known, outside of Arabia, about the different strains and their special values, Huntington should be credited with close observation in his pioneer breeding experiments, for, besides the Muniqi strain he had individuals of other strains whose characteristics, he noted, differed from those of the Muniqi. His close study of the offspring of the few strains that he had the opportunity to observe led him to declare that the Arabian horse was in different families with different instincts.


Images and Footnotes:



(5) Vidal bought Naomi from Albert G. Sandeman.

(6) Huntington to C.V. Bouthillier, Dec. 17, 1890.

(7) Blunt to Vidal, Feb 2, 1885.

(7a) Foaled May 10, 1890; bred and owned by Huntington who in a letter to the press, May 25, 1890, wrote:

“That Naomi should be brought from the Desert [in her dam] to England, and there produce a son [ Gomussa, sold to the Chilean government] to an Arab horse [Kouch] presented by the Sultan of Turkey, Murad V, to the Princess of Wales, and then come to America and produce another son [Anazeh] to the credit of an Arab [Leopard] presented to a representative of the American people [General Grant], by a second Sultan of Turkey, Abdul Hamid II, is singular, if not phenomenal.”

(8) It may not be known generally that John Wesley, the renowned English evangelist, was a great horseman and cross-country rider. On his tours about the country he rode above 100,000 miles with slack rein. He wrote a sermon on the horse prophesying that at the last days horses would enjoy a state of exalted happiness. (The Horse (English) vol. VIII, No. 31, p. 199).

(9) For a detailed account of Kismet’s remarkable career, see The Horse (Washington, D.C. )vol. 19, No. 1, Jan. -Feb., 1938.

(10) In Bruce’s American Stud Book (vol. VI, 1894, pp. 1165-1168 inclusive) are registered 51 Americo-Arabs; most of them bred and owned by Randolph Huntington.

(11) Besides these three Vidal brought over on the same ship a bay Arab, Ibex, by Miss Dillon’s El Emir, for Fullerton Phillips of Philadelphia. Ibex did not enter into the breeding project here described.

(12) Shortly after his arrival Vidal went to the Chicago Exposition to judge Arab and other classes.

(13) Western Horseman. Jan. – Feb., 1942. p. 14.

It was claimed that the Darley Arabian was a Muniqi. “Later discovery of his pedigree in the files of the Darley family proved him to be a Muniqi Hadraji….From him descended Flying Childers.” (W.R.Brown. The Horse of the Desert. New York, 1929, p. 126.)

(14) Vidal to Huntington, May 20, 1893.



image of Rectory:


Reproduced from a photograph through the courtesy of Mrs. H.A. Fleetwood, wife of the present (1936) rector who succeeded the Rev. Vidal.


Image of church:


The late Rev. F. Furse Vidal, who owned “Kismet,” “Naomi,” “Nazli,” “Nimr” and “Garaveen” and bred the last three and from whom the late Randolph Huntington bought the last four, was at the time and for many years the rector of this church. In one of his letters he wrote: “I have been much occupied of late with various Parish matters … I have had five sermons to preach in the last week — this means a good deal of time and thought.” (1) For recreation he indulged in a small breeding stud and with his sons and daughters was active in the hunting field.

St. Mary’s stands on the top of a hill [near Needham Market], surrounded by trees, and is a building of flint and stone in a variety of styles …. The registers date from 1681.” (2)

Reproduced from a photograph through the courtesy of Mrs. H. A. Fleetwood, wife of the present (1936) rector, who succeeded the Rev. Vidal.

(1) Vidal to Huntington, Xmas day, 1903.

(2) “County Churches — Suffold.” T. Hugh Bryant. London. 1912.


Photo of 2 handwritten pages

Pages 1 and 5 of Vidal’s letter to Huntington quoting Upton’s Note about His Importation of Valuable Arabian Stock. the letter in full follows:

Mrs. Upton cannot remember the date of the arrival — but she thinks it must have been in March or April 1875 or 1876. the latter date would tally with ‘Naomi’s’ age and with what Mr. Sandeman told me.”

“In a note he, Upton, says: ‘I have tried to get a Managhi Hedrudj of the family of Ibn Sbeyel of the Gomussa tribe of Sebaa Anezeh which I hold to be the best breed in the Desert. I have succeeded and one of them is now in my stable. I had enquired at the same time about about the mares; and two have come of the same family. The four are as follows: No. 1. Chestnut stallion, 4 yrs. old. 14.2. His dam a Keheilet Jeabeh taken from the Heissa Anezeh, and his sire the famous Keheilan Hellawi of the Shammar tribe. No. 2. Pearl Grey stallion with black mane and black tail, tipped with white, 4 years old 14.2 His dam “Managhi Hedrudj” of Ibn Sbeyel family of Gomussa anezeh, and his sire of the same breed, now in the stud of the King of Italy. No. 3. Bay mare 5 years old 14.1 1/2. Same breed as No. 2, but dam and sire not the same. No. 4. Chestnut mare 4 years old 14.3. Same breed as No. 2 and 3, but dam and sire not the same. Noted for speed and bottom’.”

” ‘The Keheilan Hellawi, sire of the chestnut colt, is preferred to any Seglawi Jedraan stallion for covering mares, on account of the constant success of his progeny — colts got by him are always sought after. All horses bear the name of the breed of the dams and this Keheilan jeeban is therefore considered first class, as that is on of the best varieties of the Keheilan Adjooz breed. The Hellawi strain is also a branch of the Keheilan Adjooz — but not in general so much thought of as the sire of this chestnut colt is in particular. The Managhi Hedruj is highly esteemed as a breed — and those of the family of Ibn Sbeyel of the Gomussa tribe are known as the best strain of that blood though not always so handsome as some other breeds.’

” ‘The name means “long necked.” Jeeban is the “proved” and Hellawi “the sweet“.’

“I also send you a facsimile of a translation made by Upton of the delivery note and description of my old mare Zulieka (the No. 3, I presume) — the others have been lost.

“I think these notes of Uptons which have only just been unearthed, will go far to confirm you in what I have always told you, that Naomi’s blood is the finest and best that could possibly be.

“P.S. You will note that the Shiek Suleyman ibn Mirschid is the famous chief of the Gomussa spoken of by Upton in [and] Lady A. Blunt in their books.”

Photographed from a letter found among the letters and papers of the late Randolph Huntington.


Image of a facsimile

“Fac Simile of a translation [from the Arabic] made by Roger D. Upton of the delivery note and description of my old mare “Zulieka” (the No. 3 I presume) — the others [translations for other horses] have been lost.” (Excerpt from a letter, Jan. 15, 1896, of F.F.Vidal to Randolph Huntington.)

“The No. 3” refers to a quotation by Vidal of Upton’s description of the Arabian horses and mares imported to England by him.

No. 1 in the same letter refers to Chestnut colt.

No. 2 in the same letter refers to “Yataghan.”

No. 4 in the same letter refers to “Haidee.”

“Yataghan” and “Haidee” were sire and dam of “Naomi.”

“Zulieka” was half-sister “Haidee.” All these horses were registered in the G.S.B.

Reproduced from a photograph of the original found among the letters and papers of the late Randolph Huntington.


Photo of “Naomi”

“Naomi,” a chestnut sorrel, of the Munigi-Hadraji strain, 15 1/2 hands high, was imported to England in 1875, in her dam “Haidee,” from the Euphrates Valley, by Captain Roger D. Upton of the 9th Lancers. Her sire, “Yataghan,” and her dam “were full brother and sister.” (1)

Foaled in 1876, the photograph shows her at nineteen years of age with her ninth foal, the colt “Khaled,” thirteen days old. Up to 1898, the year she died, she had produced twelve foals as follows:

1884, bay colt “Gomussa,” by Princess of Wales’ Saqlwai-Jidrani Arab “Kouch.”

1885, not bred.

1886, chestnut filly “Kushdil,” by S.W.Blunt’s Saqlwai-Jidrani Arab “Kars.”

1887, bay filly “Naama,” by Hon. Miss Dillon’s Shammar Arab “El Emir.”

1888, chestnut filly “Nazli,” by Hon. Miss Dillon’s Muniqi-Hadraji Arab “Maidan.”

1889. not bred.

1890, chestnut colt “Anazeh,” by Gen. Grant’s Saqlwai-Jidrani Arab “Leopard.”

1891, seal brown filly “Ruth Clay,” by the Americo-Arab “Young Jack Shepard.”

1892, bay colt “Boaz Clay,” by “Young Jack Shepard.”

1894, chestnut colt Nejd, by Arab “Anazeh.”

1895, chestnut colt “Khaled,” by Arab “Nimr.”

1896, chestnut filly “Naomi II,” by Arab “Nimr.”

1897, chestnut filly “Narkeesa,” by Arab “Anazeh.”

1898, chestnut filly “Naressa,” by Arab “Anazeh.”

Reproduced from a photograph found among the letters and papers of the late Randolph Huntington.

(1) While this is the oft repeated statement, Vidal quotes Upton that they were of the same family but of different parentage.


Photo of “Nazli”

(G.S.B. Vol, XVI, p. 655

By “Maidan” [G.S.B. Vol. XVI, p. 657] out of “Naomi”; height 14h. 3 in., without shoes. Measures under knee 7 7/8 in. chestnut mare (same color as “Naomi”) white star on forehead. Splended shoulders; clean flat legs and good feet– hocks good — but not quite so fine as “Kushdil’s.” Was quiet to ride last year but has been turned out October as she is believed to be in foal to “Mesauod” (Lady A. Blunt’s horse). Stands true. Action like her Mother’s. This mare is considered to be the handsomest Arab mare in England. Carries her tail high and straight. Plenty of good strong hair on fetlocks. (1)

“Nazli” and “Nimr” are beauties of the first water. (1)

“Nazli” was foaled in England in 1888. She was 7 years old as shown here, held by Mr. Huntington, with her second foal, “Naarah.” She had produced, when 3 years old, “Nimr” in England. Up to 1904 she had produced one foal in England and nine in America, as follows:

1891, “Nimr” chestnut colt by “Kismet.”

1895, “Naarah” chestnut filly by “Anazeh.”

1896, “Naaman” chestnut colt by “Anazeh.”

1897 “Nazlina” chestnut filly by “Anazeh.”

1898 “Nadab” chestnut colt by “Anazeh.”

1899, “Nazlita” chestnut filly by “Khaled.”

1900, “Nazlet” chestnut filly by “Khaled.”

1901, “Nejdran” chestnut colt by “Anazeh.”

1903. “Nahor” chestnut colt by “Anazeh.”

1904, “…….” chestnut filly by “Anazeh.”

Reproduced from a photograph found among the letters and papers of the late Randoph Huntington.

(1) Vidal to Huntington March 31, 1893.

Series Navigation
  1. [1]London, 1873
  2. [2]London, 1881
  3. [3]Included in the Upton importation were the following colts and mares, the portion of the Hon. Henry Chaplin ex-British Minister of Agriculture and breeder of Hermit and other Derby winners: Jocktan, bay colt 3 1/2 years old; Ishmael, dark bay colt 2 years old; Kesia bay mare 10 years old; Keren-Happuch, chestnut mare 8 or 9 years old. (The Arab Horse Stud Book, Vol. 1, No. 4). As the Chaplin lot were not kept as a pure-Arab Stud and as their descendants, so far as is known, never came to America, they do not concern this review.
  4. [4]Excerpt from a letter of F. F. Vidal, Dec. 24, 1895, to Randolph Huntington.