Stefan (Rangoon / Somara) imp. UK
Bred by Mr William Hay
Pure Crabbet grey stallion
In 1946, Mr A.W. Wilson of Werocata Station, South Australia, employed Mr Reginald Summerhayes to ‘find the best-bred colt in England.’ (Gordon, 1994) Mr Summerhayes was given six weeks to meet the enviable brief to purchase and export a Pure Arabian colt to serve as a station sire on Mr Wilson’s vast estate. A worthy colt was found at Mr William Hay’s Winestead Hall, near Patrington in East Yorkshire, England. (Gordon, 1987, p. 222) Stefan (Rangoon / Somara) was a grey yearling colt at the time of purchase, having been foaled in April 1945, and soon made his way to the antipodes at the age of sixteen months. (Gordon, 1987, p. 224)
It should be noted, as Mrs C Gordon has done so previously, that Mr Wilson did not purchase Stefan to establish a Pure Arabian stud or breeding program. As with many station owners and stockmen at the time, Mr Wilson imported Stefan to strengthen the Arabian qualities of his working horses; the Wilsons required horses of great stamina and temperament, which could withstand demanding work in hard country. (Gordon, 1987, p. 224) Stefan left Yorkshire and travelled to Australia by sea, before joining Mr Wilson’s Werocata Station and then settling at another Wilson property, Wertaloona Station. To appreciate the foresight of Arabian breeders who preserved Stefan’s blood for later generations, one must consider the geographical isolation of Stefan’s surroundings. Mrs Gordon has explained that Wertaloona Station was situated 350miles north of Adelaide and was home to three to four hundred horses. The majority of these station horses were Partbreds and Anglo-Arabians from predominantly Thoroughbred station mares. (Gordon, 1987, p. 222)
In The Crabbet Silver Family in Australia, Mrs Gordon claimed that ‘of all the Crabbet Silver Family in Australia, his pedigree reads the most royally.’ (Gordon, 1987, p. 222) Both Stefan’s sire and dam – Rangoon and Somara respectively – were bred at the Crabbet Stud before being sold to Mr Hay by Lady Wentworth. (Archer, et al., 2002, p. 184) This breeding pair produced a number of full siblings for Winestead Hall of great quality. It is for this reason that Stefan was quite possibly the ‘best-bred colt’ available for purchase in England during Mr Summerhayes’s search. By the mid-1940’s, Mr Hay ‘had established a small but very well-credentialed Arabian stud.’ (Gordon, 1994)
Stefan’s sire, Rangoon (Skowronek / Rish), was foaled at the Crabbet Stud in 1921. His sire, Skowronek (Ibrahim / Jaskolka), was bred in Poland by Mr Joseph Potocki in 1913 and was imported to England by Mr Walter Winans. The stallion later passed into the hands of Mr Webb-Ware before being purchased by Mr H.V.M. Clark for his Courthouse Stud. It was at the Pony Show at Islington during March, 1920, that Lady Wentworth spotted Skowronek and ‘immediately made up her mind to buy him.’ (Archer, et al., 2002, p. 170) Following his rather infamous acquisition, Skowronek’s impact was instantaneous. When considering this immediate impact, it should be noted that Skowronek was bred to approximately a third of the Stud’s mares for the first few seasons at Crabbet. (Archer, et al., 2002, p. 172) The ethereal Skowronek has been described as ‘snow white. Splendid arch of neck and crest. Exquisite head, small sharp cut ears. Enormous strength and breadth of back and loins. Tail set high and arched very high. Dancing prancing action.’ (Archer, et al., 2002, p. 109) What is of utmost importance is the fact that Skowronek features twice in Stefan’s pedigree; he is the sire of Rangoon and the great-grand sire of Somara. It is therefore easy to see how Mrs Gordon could describe Stefan as bringing Australia ‘very close to the very roots of the breed’s history.’ (Gordon, 1987, p. 224)
The value of Rish (Nejran / Rabla) in Stefan’s pedigree is indeed worthy of analysis. Following the sale of Azrek to South Africa in 1891, Lady Anne Blunt lamented: ‘It is impossible not to feel a pang of regret at the departure of a horse such as Azrek whose stock are so satisfactory...’ (Archer, et al., 2002, p. 228) Azrek was purchased in 1887 by the Blunts in the desert and was described as ‘a magnificent horse in every way, grand head and neck, powerful shoulder with unrivalled trotting action; seen approaching at the trot, one saw underneath the hoof…’ (Upton, 1980, p. 32) Azrek left two colts at Crabbet before his departure, one being Nejran (out of Nefisa). The importance of Stefan’s pedigree is made apparent when one notes that Crabbet’s only line to Azrek is traced through Nejran’s daughter, Rish (out of Rabla (Mesaoud / Rosemary)). (Archer, et al., 2002, p. 228)
Stefan’s dam, Somara (Nureddin II / Silver Fire), offered a combination of extraordinary blood to Australian breeders. Her sire, Nureddin II (Rijm / Narghileh), was the focus of significant correspondence between Lady Anne Blunt and her husband Wilfrid, following the couple’s separation. Nureddin II was again discussed during the lawsuit between Lady Wentworth and her father, when Wilfrid Blunt asked Mr S.G. Hough, whom had been keen to purchase the stallion, for 1,000guineas ‘by way of polite refusal.’ To Blunt’s surprise, Mr Hough accepted the price in 1918 for a horse described by Blunt as ‘one of the best’ bred at the Stud. (Archer, et al., 2002, p. 160) Nureddin II’s absence from Crabbet was relatively short-lived, having been repurchased by Lady Wentworth in 1921, before being sold again at the age of twenty-two to Mr Roger A. Selby of Portsmouth, Ohio, in 1933. (Archer, et al., 2002, p. 173 & 182) Mr C Covey described Nureddin II as a dark chestnut, who stood 15:3hands and ‘was a very impressive horse, full of presence. He had superb conformation with a long and very well-placed neck, good sloping shoulder and good bone and hocks.’ (Archer, et al., 2002, p. 222)
Stefan’s maternal grand-dam was the phenomenal Silver Fire (Naseem / Somra). Having produced thirteen foals, there is little argument against the claim that Silver Fire remains ‘the head of the Crabbet Silver family.’ (Gordon, 1994) Respected judge and author, Mrs R Archer explained that ‘Silver Fire, with her beauty of form and exquisite head, had inherited the true classic type of her illustrious forbears, and it is easy to understand how she was treasured by her owner.’ (Archer, 2002, p. C6) Silver Fire was by Naseem (Skowronek / Nasra), previously discussed, out of Somra (Daoud / Siwa). Silver Fire is often celebrated as the great progenitor of the Hamdanieh Simirieh strain, tracing back to Sobha (Wazir / Selma) and the famed collection of Ali Pasha Sherif. (Upton, 1980, p. 92)
Stefan continued to cover Mr Wilson’s station mares in South Australia until his death in 1979 at the age of thirty-four. Mrs Gordon visited Stefan as part of a Victorian and South Australian stud tour where she described the aged stallion as ‘strong-looking with a short back that was not dipped. His eyes were big, dark and soft in a wedge-shaped intelligent head. He had really tiny ears and very wide, expressive nostrils. His forearms were very long, with short cannons.’ (Gordon, 1987, p. 226) Stefan would have remained ‘lost’ to contemporary breeders in the Purebred form had it not been for a handful of dedicated and astute breeders during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Their efforts resulted in nine registered Purebred Arabian foals, from which horses current breeders and enthusiasts can celebrate. (Gordon, 1987, p. 222)
AHSA, 2005. The Arabian Horse Society of Australia Stud Book. [Online]
Available at: http://ahsadata.com/studbook/horsedetails.cfm?ahsid=111178
[Accessed 22 June 2016].
Archer, R., 2002. Silver Fire. The Arab Horse, Issue Crabbet - Special Issue, pp. C6-C10.
Archer, R., Pearson, C. & Covey, C., 2002. The Crabbet Arabian Stud: Its History & Influence. 3rd ed. Northleach, Gloucestershire: Alexander Heriot & Co. Ltd..
Gordon, C., 1987. The Crabbet Silver Family in Australia. 1st ed. Samford: Somerset Publications.
Gordon, C., 1994. Stefan (imp.). Australia's Crabbet Arabian Horse, pp. 94-99.
Upton, P., 1980. Desert Heritage: An Artist's Collection of Blunt's Original Arab Horses. 1st ed. Sydney: A.H. & A.W. Reed Pty. Ltd.
© Sean Johnson 2016