From Arabian Studs and Stallions Annual.
Written by David Gillett. Photos by Tanya Hawley.
“I truly believe that Sa’ar signalled a significant change in the breed here in Australia. He was an amazing horse, and I loved him dearly. My mother always used to say that regardless of conformation or breeding, a truly great stallion had to be ‘important looking’. Sa’ar had that quality. He stood there and he said something...he was ‘important looking’. Marion Richmond, breeder of Simeon Sa’ar.
Lofty and elegant, the imposing chestnut stallion Simeon Sa’ar was one of the most well known and prolific sires of the eighties and nineties, and while only bred from sparingly in comparison to some stallions of the time, his influence is still seen today through his countless descendants. While this article can only tell part of his story (a list of his significant get is included separately), the impact of Simeon Sa’ar is still felt by those who knew him, and those who loved him.
During the mid-seventies, Marion Richmond of Simeon Stud travelled to Europe to buy a group of mares who would profoundly affect the Arabian industry here in Australia. Amongst them was the Marbach bred filly Damirah, who would go on to be the 1985 Australian Champion Mare and produce an Australian Champion daughter, Simeon Shari (by Simeon Samuel). “After seeing the exquisite mare Nara (Hadban Enzahi x Naadirah) in Australia, I travelled to Marbach State Stud in Germany specifically to buy a Hadban Enzahi daughter. It is a bloodline that I continue to admire to this day, and have recently travelled through Europe to find more of these precious bloodlines”.
There she found Damirah, one of the last Hadban Enzahi daughters. Her dam was Hamdi (Halef x Jadine), an exceptional broodmare for Marbach and so therefore of course, Damirah was definitely not for sale. She was one of the last foal crop by Hadban Enzahi and said to be one of the best . “She was a beautiful filly, with such serene elegance and powerful movement...I was not ready to give up so easily. The Director of Marbach at that time, Dr Wolfgang Franz, and I eventually came to an agreement over a spirited and lively dinner, at the end of which Damirah was mine. I think it was the schnapps that sold her!”
The young breeder showed her exceptional eye for a horse when she selected the as yet unproven El Shaklan to be the sire of Damirah’s first foal. “Later that same European visit I had seen El Shaklan in the UK, who was approximately 15 months old at the time...he gave me goosebumps. I had never seen a ‘square’ horse before, the horses in Australia until that time had been a very different type. El Shaklan was square in the hip, and had the most beautiful front. He was an average mover, but my new filly Damirah was a powerhouse and so I booked a breeding then and there. I made arrangements for the filly to be shipped from Germany to the Maxwells farm outside London, and as soon as El Shaklan turned two years old he was bred to Damirah”.
During her pregnancy, Damirah was moved from the Maxwells farm to the stud if Marlin Pollard, where on August 3rd 1978 she foaled a chestnut colt with a blaze and four white feet.
“We called him Sa’ar, which means ‘storm’. We named him that because I thought he would create one in Australia with his level croup and different look – and he certainly did.”
When he was six months old, Damirah and Sa’ar travelled to Australia, accompanied by Peter and Vivienne Hall’s equally well known pair of imports, the Marbach mare Sascha (Saher x Smoky) and her colt by El Shaklan, Amir El Shaklan who went on to create his own unique dynasty.
At first the reaction to Sa’ar in Australia was mixed...he was called both a ‘freak’ by some and praised as the next generation by others. “When he was two or three years old we took him to the NSW National Stud Horse Show at the old showgrounds at Moore Park. At that time there was another chestnut colt of Ralvon breeding on the show circuit, and he was the hot favourite to win. You must remember the classes were much larger in those days, and in fact I believe there were over 50 horses in the class Sa’ar was competing in. I remember sitting in the old grandstand, watching Ron Palelick from the USA judging the horses, trying to work out if he liked what I liked...and I liked Sa’ar of course. When he called Sa’ar in as Champion he was not met with applause, but with a stunned silence. I remember jumping to my feet to clap, then realising I was the only one standing...I guess as far as the populace was concerned, Sa’ar was not supposed to win that day. Ron Palelick later came out to the farm at Dural and commented that for him, there was no way any other horse was going to win that day...even though it was an unpopular decision!”
As he matured, Sa’ar became reminiscent of his grandsire, the Morafic son Shaker El Masri, also a tall, angular chestnut standing tall at 15.2hh. His offspring started their own show careers, and during this time were awarded virtually every major title on the Arabian show calendar.
Simeon Sa’ar remained at Simeon for some years, breeding mares and being exhibited at the odd show here and there until, as is well known, he and most of the non-straight Egyptian horses at Simeon were dispersed. Says Marion “Sa’ar leaving was the catalyst for Simeon Stud to adapt into a straight Egyptian breeding program. I loved all of my Egyptian-related stock, but I had 60-plus horses on 20 acres and a decision had to be made. I was excited by matings made overseas using stallions such as Ibn Estopa, El Shaklan’s full brother on my Russian mares, and it gave me much distress to have to give them up, but I had no choice.”
When asked why Sa’ar himself was sold Marion answers immediately. “Sa’ar was a real stallion, if he had been a wild horse he would have been king of them all. Because of this, some people thought he was a difficult horse to get along with, but for me he was gentle...I really loved that horse and I would have kept him forever if I could have. Sa’ar just wanted to be around mares and to be the kingpin. When he was young he was the only stallion on the farm and that suited him well, however that changed as Simeon grew. There was another young stallion at the farm at that time and they hated each other... and it drove Sa’ar crazy, which then made Sa’ar unpopular with some of the staff. He was always moving, and never settled. I was overseas when I received a call that there had been an incident involving Sa’ar at the farm, and that something had to be done. I loved that horse, and so I gave him away to my friend Lorraine Kaufmann who had a Damirah daughter already, and came and picked him up that day. You must understand he was never sold intentionally, but he was given away to a home that was better for him”.
With Lorraine, Sa’ar did not have to compete with other stallions and was a changed animal. She would breed him in a cheap rope halter all by herself and never had a problem with him. I think he was happy there.”
From Lorraine Kaufmanns, Simeon Sa’ar was eventually purchased in partnership between Belltrees Arabians and Eastwinds Arabian Stud, later owned by Tom Tancred and Les Bradney of Eastwinds outright), where the next phase of his life began.
At Eastwinds, Sa’ar joined an incredible line up of stallions that included the imports BA Minstrel Bay (The Minstril x AK Komeira), Esscort (Ali Jamaal x Espressa), the straight Spanish Priority (Procyon x Alteza El Hauwha) and Estashan (Malik x Estasha). His show career began again, and he was broken to oth saddle and harness. Under the expert eye of Tom & Les, Sa’ar was bred to some very good mares during this time, producing one of his best known sons from Amira Bint Esperanza, the incredible Eastwinds Axplosion. A magnificent, marble-like vision in white, Eastwinds Axplosion not only shone in the show ring, he has gone on to become a superlative sure himself who is known for producing incredible type. His progeny include Quartz Hill Farm Luv in the Mist, a mare with an enviable show record is also producing show winners herself and the well performed gelding Viva Espana (x Fairview Amira Espana), 2011 East Coast Champion Purebred Gelding.
As a breeding horse, Sa’ar was indeed a force to be reckoned with, and was fortunate enough to be bred to a number of top quality mares. When one takes a look at the mares that Sa’ar bred during his life time, it reads like a who’s who of broodmare queens including the beautiful white Jadara, the Naadirah daughters Naazirah and Nara, the first Australian Champion Mare 27 Ibn Galal V and her daughter Simeon Safanad. The list continues with the matriarchs Simeon Shirli, Dynasty Jamin, Essencia, Halina Shaklan, Katrinka, Sarika and her daughter Malmsbury Samira...to name but a few.
Marion Richmond remembers well the moment she saw Sa’ars first colt born, a stunning bay from Simeon Shirli who was to be named Simeon Sanegor. “When I saw his amazing head come out, I knew that a new phase in the Arabian show ring was about to begin. He was so perfect...I think I may have even cried a little”. Sanegor, purchased at six weeks old by Joda Arabians was used extensively over their own and outside mares and sired many champion progeny. He was twice Reserve Australian Champion Stallion and in 1991, after winning Supreme Senior Exhibit at the Victorian Classic, he was sold to Walter Mishek of the United States, where he was named National Top Ten Stallion at the world’s largest Arabian horse show at Scottsdale.
Sanegors Lady D (from Deseret Taos Lady) is one of his US born daughters who has gone on to be a great broodmare. A Scottsdale Top Ten Senior Mare herself, she is the dam of the well performed full siblings KM Bugatti, the 2009 US National Champion Stallion AOTH and Reserve Champion Hunter JR Horse, and the mares Verakia and Elegancebyversace, all sired by Versace.
Simeon Sanegor was the first of six full siblings bred at Simeon, including the stallion Simeon Shomer, exported to New Zealand and the much loved chestnut filly Simeon Shifrah. Cranston Park secured her as a filly and it was with them she travelled to the United States and back. Shifrah had a filly by Espiration while she was overseas, which ended up being shown successfully in Brazil and she came home to Aust in foal to Simeon Shai. Probably her most well known progeny would be the stallion Kharbine, by Fairview Klassique. Her son Desert Fox High & Mighty (by Simeon Samuel) was exported to the Middle East for endurance, while her youngest son Nalla La Scala (by Ibn Amir El Shaklan) is now a breeding stallion showing much promise.
Tanya Hawley of Hawley Arabians remembers “We bred our Naadirah daughters Nara (by Hadban Enzahi) and Naazirah (by Mustafa) to Simeon Sa’ar for three fillies and a colt, all of whom went on to successful show or breeding careers. Naazirah’s bay daughter Naazarah was a great show horse, and under Kim Casali’s ownerships was Champion Mare at East Coast and the Queensland Challenge. My favourite of them all was the stallion Nadji (from Nara) as to me, he typified what I was trying to achieve with the mating. I recently saw Naazifah (Simeon Sa’ar x Naazirah) at Byrnlea Park Arabian Stud, and even at 25 years old she is an impressive mare with clean legs and exceptional movement. Her young progeny by Ajman Moniscione are certainly going to competitive in the show ring.” Interestingly, the filly Byrnlea Park Naajwah went Top Ten Yearling Filly at the 2011 Australian Championships.
Kerry Chapman of Gleniph Arabians, who worked at Eastwinds during Sa’ars time there says “We had used Simeon Sanegor and loved the result so went back to use him again only to find he wasn’t available. The owners suggested we look at his sire at Eastwinds so that is what we did and we used him quite a few times, and purchased his progeny including EW Antiophe, now she won many awards including Champion Yearling Filly at the Nationals and Eastwinds Sequins, who was equal third at the Australian Championships and top five at East Coast as a youngster when we showed her. One of my favourite memories of Sa’ar is helping to prep him at Eastwinds for his debut under saddle at the A Class Arabian Show held in Dubbo. It was a huge task – one of those days when everything went wrong however we got him there and from memory, I think he actually won!”
Over the years Sa’ar amassed an enviable show record for himself, and from his early win at the National Arabian Stud Horse Show he went on to win Supreme at the Western Division A Class Show, Champion Stallion NSW Division Show, 1984 Sydney Royal Champion Reserve Senior Champion Stallion (in a class of 29 exhibits) again at the National Stud Horse Show, 1986 Top Ten Australian Championships and Supreme Exhibit at the Queensland Arabian Valley Trophy show , also in 1986.
In 1995, the now eighteen year old Simeon Sa’ar returned to the National Arabian Stud Horse Show in Sydney, handled by Heath Rowbottom to compete once again for National Champion Stallion. The risks were high – this was an important and famous stallion who had nothing to prove, why bring him out against the young, fashionable stallions of the time? Obviously his owners thought he could do it – not only was the stallion looking magnificent, but he had found the perfect partner in the young Heath Rowbottom. Under judge Guy Fontaine from France, on that cold and rainy day in the spring of 1995 they thundered into the ring together like never before to take the Championship from stallions more than half the age of Sa’ar.
Reports at the time show images of an ecstatic Heath throwing his arms around the stallion, and the stallion responding with affection, thus exhibiting the dynamic of their relationship.
Marion Richmond remembers “The last time I saw Sa’ar was when he was Champion Stallion with Heath, and it was amazing. Watching from the stands I could see it – Saa’r liked Heath and Heath liked Sa’ar – I missed him terribly in that moment. My stallion Anaza Bay Shah was in the same class, and when they called out Sa’ar as the winner I truly was overjoyed. I had a strange sense of de javu, remembering the first time he had won at the National Stud Show but this time it was different. I realised as I was standing there clapping, so was everyone else. Sa’ar was being given a standing ovation, and with that realisation I think a tear or two may have escaped down my face. It was a moment I will never forget.”
Sa’ar ended his days peacefully at Ridgecrest Arabians, owned by Doug and Kathy Jones. Doug and Kathy do not breed Arabians any longer, yet during this period Sa’ar sired some excellent stock, and many of his daughters still of breeding age carry the Ridgecrest prefix. Interestingly, during 2002 a gelding by Sa’ar named Ridgecrest Shy Guy was successfully competing in Arabian racing, winning both the Great Western Arabian Cup and Goulburn Arabian Cup.
In the opinion of many, Sa’ar was truly a great horse, both in himself and in his capacity to reproduce that greatness. He was indeed a horse that ‘said something’, and through his many descendants, he continues to still.