By Edouard Aldahdah
Posted on January 17th, 2013 in USA
Last week I was talking with a Syrian friend from Aleppo over the phone. Conversations always start with updates on the security situation there, and end with what they were supposed to start with — horse talk. I was telling him about the recent concerted preservation effort that is underway in the USA, to conserve what remained of the Davenport Arabians of the Hadban Enzahi strain, which goes back to the desert mare *Hadba of the Northern Shammar Bedouins, imported to the USA by Homer Davenport in 1906.
I was telling him how much I was struck by the racy, elongated, body structure of these Davenport Hadbans — see Anita Enander’s photo of the heavily linebred Hadban RL Boomerette as one example. He laughed, and told me how a now deceased horse merchant had told him that, in the past, the particular branch of the Hadban Enzahi strain from the Northern Shammar (which *Hadba belongs to) were very prized as racehorses across the Middle East, despite their small size. He told me the story of one of these Hadban stallions, who raced and won at the Beirut racetracks, was so successful there that he was sent to the Iraq racetracks, where he also won, and from there to racetracks in India, where he won so many races that a statue of his likeness was erected there.
I promised myself to check for an Arabian horse statue at one of the racetracks in India at some point, but in the meantime, as I was looking at the pedigrees of US Arabian horses of racing lines, it downed on me that the founder of the top US racing lines of Arabians horses, the legendary racehorse Kontiki (Camelot x Almiki by Abu Farwa) (“Kontiki The Great”, winner of 8 races out of 9, including the 1971 National Championship, photo below), was ….. a Hadban Enzahi tracing to Davenport’s *Hadba.
According to this link, “Kontiki was such an exceptional racehorse that he was honored by the Thoroughbred Jockey Club as the 59th entry in the prestigious list of “100 All Time Greatest Racehorse of the World-Regardless of Breed”” along with Man O-War, Native Dancer, Kelso, Secretariat and John Henry. He was also named U.S. National Champion Racehorse and a member of the Arabian Horse Trust Hall of Fame.”
I thought to myself, that if I owned one of these Davenport Hadban colts, (a) I would feel lucky; (b) I would put it on the race track in a minute, and if I were one of those racehorses breeders, I would (a) brand my horses as “from the same female line as Kontiki”, and (b) I would go straight back to the source of the greatness, and try to find other Kontikis within the Davenport Hadban tail female, instead of linbreeding to Kontiki himself again and again.. then again, it wouldn’t be the first nor the last time that the greatest of horse lines end up in the wrong hands, and become so overlooked and under-appreciated that they are literally thrown away to the dogs..