Article in the St James's Gazette
published on 25th July 1898 relating to the Crabbet Sale of that year.
ST. JAMES’S GAZETTE. SPORT AND PLAY, The Crabbet Park Sale of Arabs. (By Our Own Representative.) The annual sale of Arab horses from Mr. Blunt’s stud at Crabbet Park is one of the most charming and picturesque events of the end of the season. quick journey by the Brighton line to Three Bridges, and a short and pretty drive through Sussex pastures, brings you to the stables where Mr. Blunt is doing his best to introduce the finest strain of Arab blood into the somewhat exhausted English stock of thoroughbreds and Hackneys. Every one was sorry not to see Mr. Blunt himself, as the string of carriages of every shape and size deposited us on the lawns close by Mr. Tattersall’s ring, where Lady Anne Blunt had made the usual hospitable arrangements for her numerous guests at luncheon.
By a courtesy that was especially shown and particularly appreciated, was taken round the stables as soon as I arrived, and there are few more beautiful and interesting sights than the stables of a first-class Arab stud. The breed is of a peculiarly sympathetic temperament. It may be that long centuries of intimate association with their masters in the desert, where each has the power of life and death over the other, has in some measure harmonised their natures to our own; or possibly the very purity and strength of their high breeding raises them a little above the level of the average brute. In any case, their stable-manners,” to a man who cares for them at all, are perfect. After quick look as you come in, they stand over for inspection as gently as a lady. A word of welcome in their ear, and they will put their silky muzzles in your hand and almost talk.
The mares have a stableyard to themselves at Crabbet, and of them all Rotuba, a lovely bay with two white stockings, is the belle. By Ahmar, out of Rose of Sharon (Kehilan Ajuz), she won the first prize at the Crystal Palace this year, and no wonder. From her beautiful head to her clean firm feet, there is not a line but is as strong as it is shapely, Jemeyza, another two-year-old, and daughter of the famous Mesaoud (Managhi Hedruj), is a pretty chestnut, but a thought too tall for my fancy, and rather higher at the shoulder than Mr. Blunt’s own maxims teach us as the best standard for the Arab breed. Another shapely pair of mares are Wild Bee, bay by Rataplan out of Wild Thyme, and her daughter by Mesaoud in 1895, Wild Camomile, who has already won three First prizes, and, when she is as well broken to harness as her mother is, will be a most useful all-round animal.
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These two went (later on) to the same purchaser, who was fortunate enough to secure the grey stallion Safran, who was second only to his stable-companion, Mesaoud, at the Crystal Palace this year, and is a magnificent specimen of the blood Mr. Blunt is so wisely choosing for his stud (Hamdani Simri). If he had been still in the desert no doubt his progeny would have been numerous by this time, but the wiser rule exists Crabbet of not often breeding from a stallion before he is seven or eight years old, and has really reached his full perfection of strength and muscular development.
Another fine grey is the mare Reshmeh, by Shahwan (Kehilan Ajuz), who went for a hundred guineas, and was worth it all. Fashion may dictate that bays and browns are to be seen chiefly in the Row, but my own taste decidedly prefers the grey, with those sensitive soft blue muzzles, and shapely white legs. Of the other stallions put up for sale, the first and last (Nos. 16 and 22) had just been imported from the rest of the late Ali Pasha Sherifs stud, which will now be entirely the property of Mr. Blunt. Indeed, it was chiefly to make room for the last new purchases of this special breed that the sale was held on Saturday. Abu Khasheb, a grey (Dahman Nejib), and Ibn Mesaoud (Kehilan Ajuz), are the two who have arrived, and the latter has already won both first and champion prizes for Arab stallions at Cairo last year.
Perhaps the prettiest in that yard, however, was No. 20 in the catalogue, a two-year-old chestnut called Ras el Ain, by Mesaoud, out of the famous prize polo pony, Rosemary. She was bought, with four others, on Saturday, to go out to South Africa. Mr. Blunt’s efforts to improve bloodstock are very widely appreciated abroad. For one of the most satisfactory incidents in the last year has been the establishment by the French Government at last of a haras of pure-bred Arabian mares. The officials there have always thoroughly believed in Arab blood, but hitherto they have only bought Eastern stallions privately from Syria and Egypt, or through military commissions sent into the desert after stallions only. But tour years ago General Faverot and Colonel Colonjon (who are at the head of the Government breeding department) came to Crabbet, saw, and were convinced. Last autumn Colonel Colonjon went into the North Arabian Desert, just as Mr. Blunt did twenty years ago, and bought thirty thoroughbred mares, with the result that the system initiated at Crabbet has been paid the high compliment of complete imitation by the French Government, and will no doubt be further copied elsewhere on the Continent.
A recent debate the other day in the House of Lords directed the attention of the public to the question of horse breeding in Ireland, and the problem whether thoroughbreds or hackneys would be better for improving the breed in that country. But the discussion came to nothing, though the sum of £3,550 is at the disposal of the Government for whatever improvements maybe found necessary. I cannot but think that the splendid selection of stallions now got together at Crabbet would be at least worth trying as one very possible solution of this Irish difficulty. The stud has already shown its capabilities for providing hunters in rich pasture-lands, ponies in the poorer mountain districts, and horses for the general utility man; while their halfbred Suffolk and Arabians have succeeded admirably, and given Ihe greatest satisfaction to their purchasers, as a good-looking, good-tempered, and hardworking breed of animal. But there are no half measures possible. Arab stallions must be first class, not merely second rate; they should be short-legged, with strong frame and sinews; and the loaded shoulder that is one of the points of the breed is no defect in a good, strong-built horse.
An animal of about hands 2 inches has been found capable of breeding any size of horse, either for hunting or harness. In Mr. Blunt’s letter, which was read in his absence by Mr. Tattersall, it was satisfactory to note that Crabbet had had a prosperous year, and made an average of 96 guineas on each head of pure bloodstock. This cannot much more than cover the working expenses, I imagine; but, for the present, Mr. Blunt is patriotically content with that, and everyone will be glad that his efforts are, at least, not attended with loss in conduct in a delicate and complicated matter, which is bound to involve large expenses and to be very uncertain in its returns. Two of his best stallion colts went to Portugal last year, more were taken over by Cecil Rhodes, another got the first prize in Spanish South America, and at the Crystal Palace the Crabbet Park Stud took all the first prizes and all but one of the seconds. Mr. Tattersall added, on his own high authority, that these Arabs were undoubtedly the best in England, and exhibited the two points of Arab breeding—soundness and good temper —in their best perfection.
Though several animals were bought in, thirteen sold on Saturday realised an average of just under a hundred guineas, Abu Khasheb went up to 240, and Safran was sold at 250. The arrangements of the ring were far better than in past years, for spacious enclosure, which gave the beautiful creatures every chance of displaying their points, was surrounded by seats under an awning, which afforded a pleasant shade from the bursts of brilliant sunshine that continually lit up the glossy skins and long tails of the Arabs as they came in one by one for inspection.
The extraordinary prices realised by Lord Lonsdale’s sale of the Quom horses on Saturday (a total of and an average of 223 guineas for the eighty-four lots), shows that people are still perfectly willing to pay well for a good thing; and the fact that the Derby entries for 1900 are a record of 318, or 27 more than in Gal tee More s year, shows that since the first race, for which 36 were entered in 1780, owners have gone on steadily improving their racing stock, and their readiness to race it. The English thoroughbred was improved many years ago by the fortuitous appearance of the Godolphin Arabian and his famous progeny in the Stud-book. The stock needs further enlivening the deliberate introduction of new blood now. No better than that of the Crabbet Arabians can be found for this important mission; and, as Mr. Tattersall pointed out, the Irish breeder will also find his advantage in crossing his stock with Arabs rather than with hackneys. Mr. Blunt deserves every encouragement in his spirited endeavours to help the breed in these matters; and owners of bloodstock will soon feel even more indebted to his stables than Lady Anne Blunt’s many visitors on Saturday must feel to her unstinted hospitality.