By Edouard Aldahdah
The presence of a French mare of Algerian/Tunisian bloodlines in my top ten list of best Asil Arabian mares ever bred has achieved its (undeclared) goal: it has sparked an interesting and lively debate about the Asil status of these bloodlines and their place within the broader community of Asil Arabian horses. Such a debate was way overdue, in my opinion.
Yet before delving into a discussion of these little-known Asil Arabians, let me share with you a few pictures of some of these horses, to give you a feel for what they look like.
Below is the magnificent Nichem, a 1970 Asil stallion, bred in France from Tunisian and Algerian bloodlines. Nichem was by Iricho and Caida, who was Rabat and Salammbo, by Bango.
Nichem’s sire Iricho was born in Tunisia in 1959 at the stud of French Navy Admiral – and otherwise master Arabian horse breeder – Anatole Cordonnier, who sold him to the French government a few years later. Iricho subsequently stood at the Haras de Pompadour for most of his breeding career. Although a horse of excellent conformation and irreproachable bloodlines, Iricho was shunned by French Arabian (?) horse breeders who preferred taller stallions of racing (i.e., highly dubious) bloodlines.
In addition to a number of non-Asil horses, Iricho did produce three Asil Arabian stallions: Zab in 1971 (out of the beautiful Izarra), Jahir in 1975 (out of Ciada), and Nichem. Unfortunately, none was replaced in French Asil Arabian breeding — a real blunder.
Nichem’s dam Caida was imported to France by a family from the “pied-noirs”, the returning descendants of the French settlers of Algeria. She was bred at the Tiaret stud, in the western Algerian mountains. Tiaret’s was France’s main Arabian horse breeding center in Algeria.
Nichem has three close crosses to Bango, perhaps the most prominent desert-bred stallion to be imported to Tiaret. Bango was a grey Ma’anaghi Sbayli bred by the Shammar in 1923, was sold to Egypt for racing, and was imported to Tiaret in 1928. Below is a picture of him, courtesy of Pierre-Henri Beillard, who breeds Tunisian, Moroccan and Algerian Arabians in France.