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z G a al

z G a al The Once and Future King BY BETTY FINKE


o anyone who loves Arabian horses, the words “Al Shaqab” conjure up visions of equine excellence, of almost impossibly beautiful horses being awarded the

highest honors. The name, however, is far older than that. It signifies the site where Qatar fought and won its final battle for independence against the Ottoman Empire, and it is, indeed, on this very site that the now world-famous stud farm was first established in 1992. There is a certain poetic symmetry in basing a breeding center for the former war horses of the Bedouins on the site of a historic battle, and even more in its being the birthplace of a stallion who literally conquered the world. As in the legend of the creation of the Arabian horse, in which God, having shaped the Horse from the South Wind, told him to “fly without wings and conquer without a sword,” this particular hero needed neither an army, nor any weapons.


Gazal Al Shaqab and trainer Michael Byatt in Aachen 2017.


No one who was there that evening in

September 2017 will forget the moment the majestic dark bay stallion entered the ring with Michael Byatt. It was one of the most thrilling and moving moments in the long history of an event not lacking in highlights. After all, what can be more thrilling than seeing a living legend in person?



2017 Salon du Cheval Platinum World Champion Stallion Gazal Al Shaqab, pictured with (from left to right): Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Sheikh Hamad bin Ali Al Thani, breeding and show manager at Al Shaqab, and Michael Byatt.

No other horse is linked as

“Lifetime Award” at the All Nations Cup in Aachen, he is

inexorably to the rapid rise and

the first one who was able to collect his award in person.

enduring success of Al Shaqab as

No one who was there that evening in September 2017 will

Gazal. He was one of the first foals

forget the moment the majestic dark bay stallion entered

born there. He was the first horse with

the ring with Michael Byatt. It was one of the most thrilling

the Al Shaqab suffix to be named

and moving moments in the long history of an event not

World Champion – the first of many,

lacking in highlights. After all, what can be more thrilling

most of them his descendants. It was

than seeing a living legend in person?

Gazal who first made Al Shaqab a

It is rare for a new breeding program to produce a

household name in the industry. Now

horse of this caliber so early. More often, beginning breeders

in his twenty-fifth year, he is without

have to wait for years for the birth of their superstar, if they

doubt the most influential living

even manage to get one. There is no fail-safe recipe. But, as

Arabian sire in the world. Among

experienced breeders will tell you: it all begins with getting

the select horses honored with the

the right mares.


Gazal’s dam, U.S. National Champion Mare Kajora (Kaborr x Edjora by Exelsjor).

The right mare in this case was Gazal’s dam, Kajora. A

pedigree, a complete outcross.

U.S. National Champion mare, she carried over 75% of the

“It was time to do something very

best proven Polish bloodlines, with close crosses to such

creative,” says Sheikh Hamad bin

greats as Naborr, Exelsjor, and Pietuszok, the remainder

Ali Al Thani, Breeding and Show

composed of Crabbet/Old English foundation lines with

Manager of Al Shaqab.

another dash of Polish through Witez II. She was a proven

Outcross breeding is always a bit

broodmare, having already produced four daughters

of a gamble, more unpredictable

and two sons. Not too surprisingly, all her foals up to that

than staying within the same gene

point had been sired by Polish or Russian stallions. But

pool. But it has been proven over

when she came to Qatar in 1994, she was in foal to Anaza El Farid, a straight Egyptian stallion who was double Morafic, a grandson of Ansata Ibn Halima, and from the celebrated Dahman Shahwan family of Ali Pasha Sherif. Impeccable breeding for an Egyptian stallion, certainly, but, in terms of Kajora’s


and over again that outstanding results can be achieved by thinking outside the box and not doing the obvious thing. More than once, outcrosses have resulted in sires that became game-changers. You have to be willing to take a risk. A bit of luck doesn’t hurt, either. “I disagree


As a yearling Gazal Al Shaqab won the junior champion title at the 1996 Qatar International Championships.

right: Egyptian Event Champion Junior Male Gazal Al Shaqab at two years old, pictured with Eileen Verdieck and Sheikh Hamad bin Ali Al Thani.

when people say there is no such

Gazal’s show career began early, when he won the

thing as luck in business,” comments

Junior title at the 1996 Qatar International Championships

Michael Byatt, one of the people

as a yearling. He then traveled to the U.S., where he

involved both in acquiring Kajora

was shown by Eileen Verdieck. While he won the Region

and determining this breeding.

16 yearling colt championship, his first visit to the U.S.

“I was fortunate enough to be in

Nationals did not exactly set the world on fire. His major

the right place at the right time with

achievement as a junior competitor was winning the

the right person, and then all these

Junior Male Champion title at the Egyptian Event as a

stars aligned to create these horses.


We may never see such a family

“He was a beautiful youngster,” remembers Michael

again our lifetimes.” Because when

Byatt, who later showed him to his greatest victories and

all these factors came together,

stood him at stud for many years. “He had this huge eye,

the result changed the world of

he was super balanced. But he definitely got prettier with

Arabian breeding.

age. He had that real deep jowl always. As his head dried

When Kajora foaled a bay colt

out, it didn’t look as big as it did when he was a baby.

on May 15, 1995, it was immediately

Everything tied together much nicer as he got older. He

clear that this little guy was special.

was a beautiful, super high-quality youngster for sure.”


2001 World Champion Stallion Gazal Al Shaqab, left, and his son, Marwan Al Shaqab (x Little Liza Fame) World Champion Junior Male.

Gazal returned to the ring in 1999 as a four-year-

father and son took a trip to Paris, where

old stallion to win the senior championship at both the

they were named World Champion

Qatar International and the Middle East International

Stallion and World Champion Junior

Show. That same year, he bred his first mares. Among

Male, respectively. It was the first time in

them was another high-caliber U.S. import, the Fame VF

history that a sire and son combination

daughter Little Liza Fame, who in 2000 produced a bay colt that was named Marwan Al Shaqab. At this point, Gazal could have retired and let Marwan do the rest, because his fame would have been assured even if he had never sired another foal. But thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not the way the story goes. In 2001,


pulled off a double victory in the same year. And the world took notice, including the directors of the Polish state studs. In fact, Dr. Marek Trela, for many years director of Janow Podlaski and engineer of the state studâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s greatest triumphs in modern times, had crossed paths

with the emerging dynasty before that. Earlier the same year, he had


encountered the yearling Marwan

(Gazal Al

while judging a show in Qatar. He

Shaqab x

had placed Marwan above the then


reigning World Junior Champion, and

U.S. National Champion

afterwards asked who his sire was.

Mare, Polish

And so the seed was sown.

National Supreme

What do you do if you like a


horse and want to get something

and European

like him? You can try to get the

Triple Crown

horse, of course â&#x20AC;&#x201C; or, even better, you


get his sire. Instead of returning to Qatar after Paris, Gazal traveled to Poland and spent the next two years covering mares at Janow Podlaski

been used in modern times. The fact that he had a high

and Michalow.

percentage of Polish breeding himself may explain the

In those days, it was still a very exclusive honor for a stallion to be

faith the directors had in him as a breeding horse. Their faith was justified. Like Probat and Monogramm,

leased by the Polish state studs. Those

Gazal Al Shaqab shaped and defined an entire

stallions were most often pure Polish

generation of Polish breeding. Where in the 1980s the

themselves, selected with the express

Probat daughters had won acclaim in the international

intent to recover Polish bloodlines

showrings, and followed in the 1990s by the Monogramm

that had been lost at home. Only

daughters, the early twenty-first century belonged to the

a select few other stallions were

daughters of Gazal. No less than three of them became

allowed to introduce new blood,

World Champion Mares, including the most universally

and they were used sparingly, such

beloved mare of the twenty-first century: Pianissima.

as Sanadik El Shaklan and the

From Gazalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first Polish foal crop in 2003, this exquisite

straight Egyptian Laheeb. Gazal Al

bay beauty began her conquest of the international

Shaqab was the first outside stallion

showrings as a yearling, moving from Supreme Polish

to be used to the same extent as

National Champion to take the European Triple Crown.

only Probat and Monogramm had

She was unbeaten during her career, which took her to


Gazal Al Shaqab. the U.S., where she was U.S. National Champion Mare and Scottsdale Champion Mare in 2006, and back to Europe where she repeated her Triple Crown in 2008 as a mature mare. Her final win was the World Platinum Champion Mare Title at Paris in 2013.


Her ethereal beauty inspired a whole generation of breeders across the globe. Perhaps she was too exquisite for this world, because she died far too young; but her legacy continues and her beauty continues to inspire even now, years after she is gone.

From the same dam line at Janow came Pinga, foaled in 2004, who was named World Champion Mare in 2012, as well as winning numerous other titles. But the one that stands out as a broodmare is Michalowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Emandoria, also foaled in 2004, out of Emanda. Like Pianissima, she was a World Champion both as a junior and as a senior, and achieved the Triple Crown in 2013. In addition, she has excelled as a broodmare both for Michalow and for several lessees, most notably Jadem Arabians in Belgium. There she produced Emerald J, by QR Marc, doubtlessly QR Marcâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best son to date and a multiple champion himself. Being by a Marwan son, Emerald J of course carries two crosses to Gazal, and he is proving an excellent sire with mares from a broad spectrum of bloodlines, siring champions throughout the world.


Polish National Champion Mare

and World Champion Mare Pinga (Gazal Al Shaqab x Pilar). middle:

Junior and Senior World

Champion and U.S. National Champion Junior Mare Emandoria (Gazal Al Shaqab x Emanda). bottom:

Multi-champion Emerald J

(QR Marc x Emandoria).


Poland wisely retained their three world champion mares, only sending them out on lease; but many of Gazal’s 2003 and 2004 Polish daughters were exported across the world, becoming treasured broodmares and/or show champions wherever they went. Among them are Halsdon Arabians’ Etnologia and Ekspulsja and Al Muawd Stud’s Norma, to name just a few. All in all, Gazal ranks as one of the most significant stallions ever used in Poland.


Gazal Al Shaqab.

middle left:

Etnologia (Gazal Al Shaqab x Etalanta). middle riGht:

Ekspulsja (Gazal Al Shaqab x Elandra). bottom: Norma (Gazal Al Shaqab

x Nina).

A L S H A Q A B > 10 < W O R L D

Marwan Al Shaqab. There again, you might say that his fame would have been be assured if he had only been used for those two years in Poland. But in the meantime, his oldest son Marwan had been busily building his own dynasty and emerging as Gazal’s heir apparent. In the years to come, it would be chiefly Marwan’s offspring that stood in the limelight. By today, Marwan has sired more World Champions than any other stallion before or since. Listing all the achievements of all his offspring would fill a book, but to name just a few: at left from top to bottom:

Marajj 2004 (Marwan Al Shaqab x RGA Khouress), from Marwan’s first foal crop, World Champion, multiple international champion and sire of champions Marquis CAHR 2004 (Marwan Al Shaqab x Rohara Magnifica), World Champion FA El Shawan 2005 (Marwan Al Shaqab x Foxbriar Shakita), sire of the exotic FA El Rasheem, who is now siring a string of winners for Dubai Arabian Stud Baanderos 2005 (Marwan Al Shaqab x HB Bessolea), twice All Nations Cup and World Champion

A L S H A Q A B > 11 < W O R L D

top row , left to right :

QR Marc 2005 (Marwan Al Shaqab x Swete Dreams), World Champion, All Nations Cup Champion, and at this time, the leading sire among Marwan’s sons, and sire of Emerald J Abha Qatar 2007 (Marwan Al Shaqab x ZT Ludjkalba), European, All Nations Cup, and two-time World Champion Kahil Al Shaqab 2008 (Marwan Al Shaqab x OFW Mishaahl), twice World Champion, also leased to the Polish state studs and sire of national and international champions bottom row , left to right :

All in all,

Gazal ranks as

EKS Alihandro 2010 (Marwan Al Shaqab x OFW Psylhouette), two-time World Champion, three-time All Nations Cup Champion, (unbeaten in the showring), champion sire Hariry Al Shaqab 2010 (Marwan Al Shaqab x White Silkk), World Champion, three-time U.S. National Champion, three-time Scottsdale Champion Wadee Al Shaqab 2010 (Marwan Al Shaqab x OFW Mishaahl), two-time World Champion, multi-International Champion

A L S H A Q A B > 12 < W O R L D

one of the most significant stallions ever used in Poland.

As can be seen from the years of birth, Marwan was building his own international dynasty at the same time that his sire Gazal was producing the next generation of Polish broodmares and world champions, the two strands running parallel to each other and eventually merging to create such outstanding horses as Emerald J. These stallions listed are far from being all of Marwanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s successful sons, just those with the highest profile. But there are also his daughters, which include: at right from top to bottom :

Abha Myra 2003 (Marwan Al Shaqab x ZT Ludjkalba), dam of World Champion Fadi Al Shaqab Abha Palma 2006 (Marwan Al Shaqab x Abha Ghazali), World Champion, dam of three-time U.S. National Champion Polidoro FC Rihab Al Nasser 2007 (Marwan Al Shaqab x Remal Al Nasser), All Nations Cup Gold Champion and dam of champions AJ Sawahi 2010 (Marwan Al Shaqab x Siberia SA), World Champion Even these very brief and select lists of sons and daughters show that Marwanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s successful get come from mares of widely differing backgrounds, and are equally successful in the showring and as breeding horses. The same is also true of Gazal himself. While Marwan Al Shaqab and the Polish offspring would be quite enough to mark him as the founder of a great dynasty, they are far from the only ones. While it is true that no other Gazal son has been used as extensively as Marwan, and been so successful in the show ring himself,

A L S H A Q A B > 13 < W O R L D

there are others that have to be mentioned, and their success is all the more remarkable since they had far fewer offspring. Stival 2006 (out of Paloma de Jamaal), himself Supreme Champion at Las Vegas, stands out as the sire of U.S. National Champion Trussardi, foaled in 2009 out of Precious As Gold, and double U.S. National Champion and twice Las Vegas Gold Champion Barzan Al Shahania, foaled in 2010 out of NW Siena Psyche. Gazwan Al Nasser, foaled in 2008 out of Ftoon Al Shaqab, was leased to the largest Arabian farm in Germany, the Ismer Stud, where he sired several outstanding premium broodmares as well as the premium stallion Mouammar. Lawrence El Gazal, foaled in 2008 out of Lara El Ludjin, sired international winners at La Movida Arabians in Austria and was also leased to Poland, though not used to the same extent as his sire. It is interesting to note in this context that while the Polish state studs never used Marwan Al Shaqab (though some private breeders in Poland did), they did lease his son Kahil Al Shaqab, again with great results. As for Gazal Al Shaqabâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s daughters, the most successful ones were indeed those from Poland, but again that is not the whole story. For example, one of his first daughters, Falha top:

Supreme Champion Stallion Stival (Gazal Al Shaqab x Paloma de Jamaal).

middle: The stallion Gazwan Al Nasser (Gazal Al Shaqab x Ftoon Al Shaqab). bottom:

Sire of international winners Lawrence El Gazal (Gazal Al Shaqab x Lara El Ludjin).

A L S H A Q A B > 14 < W O R L D

Al Shaqab (foaled in 2000 out of PR

“And seasonally, he was always in one place at

Padrons Jewel), is the dam of the

noon, another place at three, and you could absolutely

stallion Mountassar Al Zobair (by

tell time by what he did. He knew how he was going to

Khidar), who was sold to Bahrain and

approach the day and exactly where he wanted to be.

is doing very well at international

I’ve never met a horse that was so in tune with what he

shows as this time. Swedish-bred

wanted and his own needs. He is super intelligent about

Magora, foaled in 2003 out of

people and how to conduct himself.

Margotka, was a major international winner during her show career. “The dominant feature of his

“He was never Marwan-like in his absolute need for people, because he was more aloof. You kind of had to work your way into Gazal loving you, but once he did,

greatest offspring is this quality about them,” muses Michael Byatt. “There is this depth of quality, from the size of the eyes, the quality of skin and coat, to the expression, to the way they conduct themselves ... supremely intelligent, very trainable. When he produces those things, which I think are Gazal’s most amazing traits, they ooze self-confidence. When all of those things come through, his foals are so extraordinary.” So extraordinary, indeed, that they changed the world. To the question of what Gazal is like as an individual, Michael replies: “Gazal is the most supremely intelligent, most intuitive, self-aware, and knowing horse that I’ve ever been around. He knew by the clock where to be. At 8:30 AM he wanted out of his stall. At 4:30 PM he wanted back in, and he was very capable of transmitting his desires.

Gazal Al Shaqab and Michael Byatt.

A L S H A Q A B > 15 < W O R L D

the U.S. National Reserve Champion title in 2005, Gazal left the limelight to his sons and his daughters and grandchildren. Then in 2017, at the age of 23, he suddenly came back to public attention, teaming up once again with Michael Byatt to first collect his richly earned Lifetime Award at Aachen and then to win the Platinum World Champion title at Paris. He has now won almost everything it is possible for a single horse to achieve. And what’s more, his descendants continue to follow in his path. Just a year later, the Platinum awards went to his daughter Emandoria and his grandson Kahil Al Shaqab. They will not have been the last to be so honored. Gazal himself now resides at home at Al Shaqab, where he is basically allowed to do whatever he wants. He has earned it, and he certainly has nothing to prove. above and facing page:

Gazal Al Shaqab

You might be pardoned for thinking he is living in wellearned retirement. But while this may be true where

it was with his whole heart. When I

showing is concerned, it isn’t the whole picture. If you ask

called his name, he would flip that

Sheikh Hamad bin Ali, Breeding Manager of Al Shaqab,

head around. If he was on the other

whether, with all those superb sons and grandsons doing

side of the pasture and I called him,

such stellar jobs, Al Shaqab still have plans for Gazal

he’d come running to me. When

himself in their breeding program, you get an incredulous:

the horses left here, it was Gazal’s

“Is that a real question? Of course!”

absence that was the hardest to bear. I have great memories to treasure of his years here.”

Indeed, if you want to get those superb sons and grandsons – what better than to go to the source? It’s what Dr. Marek Trela did almost twenty years ago, and

Following his

the outcome has made history. Three generations later,

last major win,

the stallion that made it all possible is still here. History

which was

continues to unfold around him. He is the horse that flies without wings, the conqueror without a sword. He is the once and future king. Long may he reign.

A L S H A Q A B > 16 < W O R L D

Under his Father Highness, Al Shaqab was allowed to take our

vision and dream to the utmost. We had the resources and passion to dream big and go big. Through that, Al Shaqab, Qatar, our people have realized our place in Arabian horse history…creating

immortal horses.

— Sheikh Hamad bin Ali Al Thani AL SHAQAB > 3 < WORLD

G a zal

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Profile for Arabian Horse World

Gazal Al Shaqab, The Once and Future King  

History continues to unfold around Gazal Al Shaqab. He is the horse that flies without wings, conquers without a sword. He is the once and f...

Gazal Al Shaqab, The Once and Future King  

History continues to unfold around Gazal Al Shaqab. He is the horse that flies without wings, conquers without a sword. He is the once and f...