By Edouard Aldahdah
Posted on March 30th, 2015 in General
Last week I visited Mrs. Barbary at her Shams El Asil Farm outside Cairo. It was a lovely moment, and I enjoyed seeing her and her horses; I was especially struck by the stallions from the Bilal (Morafic x Mona) sire line, who have a very desert look about them, and are very correct and well built. The grey 1998 stallion SEA Halawat Zaman (SEA Shams El Asil by Sabah El Noor by Bilal, out of SEA Set El Hosn by Lokman/Ibn Adaweya) stood out, and so did his bay son and otherwise lookalike, SEA Zay El Kamar.
That said, one interesting part of the conversation was about the stallion Sharkasi; Mrs. Barbary is the custodian of the most credible story about him, a story apparently obtained first hand from one of the protagonists. I recall reading a short version of this story in an investigative report WAHO commissioned in 1976.
In essence, Mrs. Barbary told me that there was a sandy open area near the present location of the El Zahraa farm, where horse merchants from al-Sham (Syria, I asked if traders from other areas like Najd came there too, but no, these were apparently only horse traders from Syria) used to bring horses for sale to the Cairo racetracks. One of these horses was young Sharkasi, then a weanling; these same merchants used to take their horses to Alexandria in the summer, when the racing season at the Samooha racetrack was flourishing; Farghalli Pasha, a race horse enthusiast and the wealthiest cotton trader of Egypt at the time, went near the Samooha racetrack to buy future racehorses; his secretary, and his secretary’s wife (a Mrs. Nagdawi) were there too; apparently, the wife, who had nothing to do with horses or racing, was so taken with the cute little weanling that Farghalli Pasha bought him and offered him to her; she kept him at his racing stables in Cairo, but raced him in her name; he turned out to be an outstanding race horse; when Farghalli Pasha died, the horse, who was by then famous, was sold. TGB Trouncer, the Scotsman, acquired him.
I must say I found the story compelling, and more detailed than the information in the 1976 WAHO report; the addition of the information on Farghalli Pasha explains how a lady with no prior experience in racing or horses was able to enter Sharkasi in the races, and how she was able to sustain the horses’ career for several years; the addition of the information on the sandy open area in the middle of the Nile cultivation, where the Syrian horse merchant exposed their horses for sale, helps explain how this lady acquired a horse “from a desert source” (as per WAHO report), and the connection with the desert.
By the way, the story on the horse coming from Upper Egypt does not match the part in the WAHO report about acquiring the horse from a desert source. Upper Egypt is not the desert. It’s Upper Egypt (al-Saeed). When the desert is mentioned in horse milieus in Egypt, they mean the Arabian desert.
I now need to look up that Ferghalli Pasha.