by Br. Peter Mackintosh
After two days spent at St Mary Bourne during which we visited Harewood, Worth, Binley, Biddesden and saw some beautiful Crabbet horses and witnessed the developments at Biddesden where the Hon Finn Guinness has embarked on a programme for the development of sporting and performance horses, we set out early on Wednesday for the Imperial Stud of Geoffrey Plaister.
Imperial Stud
It was a joy to meet the largest collection of Crabbet horses at any Stud in the UK. These horses were paraded, and Geoffrey gave an informative commentary.
I was particularly impressed by the young stallion, Imperial Silver Star by Shabbash from the mare, Zaidah, a member of the famous family of the Dargee mare, Zahri. This "Z" line figures prominently in the breeding stock at Imperial. The Naseel descendant, Nefeuret, leased from his breeder, Manon Somerville, in Ireland has produced another strong line of mares for this stud. The other legendary stallion, Hanif, has left his mark here, and we were pleased to see some of his direct descendants in the mare band. Geoffrey is still breeding a few foals each year, and he was particularly proud of a colt by Indian Banner from Sanifah, a daughter of the lovely Hanif daughter, Hanifah, who was coveted by many discerning breeders in the past. Indian Banner had been leased for the previous breeding season. Another young colt he presented was Imperial Dargee, so named because of his likeness to the immortal Dargee.
We moved on with some reluctance to the Foxbury Stud of Caroline Murray where we were entertained at lunch by Caroline and a group of her old friends, all prominent breeders. These included Pat Maxwell, John Coward and Iona Bowring to name a few. Fiona, Caroline's daughter, was assisting for the day having travelled from her home in Scotland. The famous old stallions, General Gold, Shimmering King and Bremervale Emperor standing contentedly in their boxes were a great attraction. They seemed to relish the attention as they received visitors in their stables. Bremervale Emperor thrilled the many Australians on tour.
We were happy to see a group of the older mares, all daughters of these wonderful horses. It was as if they knew and relished the attention as they performed for the visitors who wandered through the field. One of the younger mares was listed for sale, a great addition for any discerning breeder.
The Group retired to Painswick village where we obtained accommodation for the evening and enjoyed a lovely meal together. We left early next morning on the journey to Wales and stopped for a brief visit to Cwm Farm, where we were entertained at morning tea by John Coward.
Cwm Farm
Stephen McMorrow, the Stud Manager, showed us a lovely group of mares including the mare, Russkaya, daughter of Druv, the El Shaklan stallion from Biddesden Stud. We were happy to see the much decorated Champion stallion, Rusleem, bred by the late Pat Coward, and now owned by Stephen who proudly showed him to the group. He is a good example of the excellent results obtained from blending the strong Crabbet lines with the El Shaklan lines of El Saleem.
After a drive we finally reached the home of Imad, the Coed-Y-Foel Arabian Stud of Diana Whittome. This horse had thrilled us all at the Parade at Merrist Wood on Saturday where he was honoured by being one of the present day stallions whose family merited a parade group. Diana staged an interesting and enjoyable parade opened with much-decorated Imad, carrying the Welsh flag into the beautifully decorated arena. We were then able to view at close range this very even line of progeny comprising stallions, mares, and recent stock together with some Part Arabian saddle horses who were following in the footsteps of their sire in the performance ring. Particularly impressive was the magical moving young stallion son, Sorrento. Diana sees him as the closest she has come to reproducing in quality and movement her great foundation mare, Tarantella.
Klinta Arabian Stud
After an evening spent in Fishguarde, the remaining group from Australia and the USA had an easy crossing by Ferry to Rosslare where we were met by Geoffrey Hamer and his driver in a suitable bus. We were transported north towards Naas and the horse country of the Curragh to the Klinta Arabian Stud where Gunilla Hamer was waiting for us with two more Australian visitors who had been with us earlier in the week.
After an enjoyable lunch we were taken on a tour of the paddocks and then met the old Silver Flame stallion, Shabakka (26 years), and one of his sons from the beautiful Indian Reflection mare, Star Solitaire, who is the mother of the young Nefeuret stallion, Klinta Bashir, whom we had seen at the Parade. This quality mare has produced so well for this stud and so it was a great shock when her full brother, Klinta Nader, one of the resident stallions, had to be euthanased after a severe attack of colic while the party was there at the Stud. We all felt so sorry for Gunilla but admired her fortitude in going ahead with her visitors. One of the foals of this stallion, Klinta Saba, shows much promise and fortunately her mother Grey Sparkle is back in foal to Klinta Nader.
Gunilla had lost her other Indian Reflection mare, Klinta Azmaa, earlier in the year after selling her yearling filly by Shabakka to Binley Stud. The other lovely daughter by Silvern Idyll, which we admired, has since been lost to the Stud. We do hope that Gunilla continues to breed pure Crabbet horses despite these disappointments.
After a very pleasant dinner where we were joined by Manon Somerville and her husband from Rossana Stud and neighbours who are thoroughbred breeders, we retired to the Inn at Naas only to be collected by Geoffrey for a visit to the Irish National Stud on Saturday morning.
Rossana Stud
We concluded our tour at the Rossana Stud of Manon Somerville at Enniskerry. We saw Nayifah, who had been to the parade at Merrist Wood. This is a beautiful mare by Golden Samurai out of Nefertari Ashmes, a half sister to Nefeuret whose common dam is Nazli. This mare is presently in foal to Klinta Bashir who is by Nefueret. Rossana Stud is seen as the home of Nefeuret - a descendant of the legendary Naseel, so we felt honoured to be received there - a fitting conclusion to a memorable week.
Many of us returned home thrilled by the horses we had seen but realised that many of the most outstanding Crabbet stallions still remaining were old and that these lines are in danger of being lost to the breed. We can only hope that the Convention may be the inspiration needed to reawaken interest among breeders in the UK who will embrace the opportunities presented by AI and make available to breeders throughout the world the opportunity to breed to these remaining stallions.
In Australia the Crabbet bred horses are excelling in performance as saddle horses, endurance horses, racehorses and sporting horses and the demand is growing for these horses. I am sure the same is true for Crabbet horses in the UK where they are appreciated for their versatility. We hope our British breeders will be to the fore in helping us to preserve these valuable breeding lines for the Arabian enthusiasts of the future.

Copyright 2009 to Br. Peter Mackintosh