Reference to Al Mashoor’s sire owner in Lady Anne Blunt’s Journals

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on July 13th, 2014 in Syria

These Journals are a gold mine. There is not a single horse related entry which does not yield new information about the horses of yesterday and today. Look at this set of entries:

July 17, 1911: 

“In the evening Teddy arrived with the (reported wonderful) bay stallion which Mr. Learmouth took to Australia and brought back not being allowed to land it — he bought the horse at Damascus and H.F. [Wilfrid] went to see it at Tatterstalls where today it was sold for 100 gs. Teddy bidding for H.F. It seems that H.F., if the details of pedigree show it to be genuine, intends to breed from it — the advertisement particulars were not convincing: I saw them in the Morning Post.”

July 18, 1911:  

“The horse is a fine horse but does not carry conviction to me. We shall see what is said of pedigree later. Damascus is not a good starting place nowadays. 

August 3, 1911: 

“H.F. sends the bay horse’s certificate asking what I can make of it. The horse does not convince me to look at and as far as I can see there is no date or year on the document not clue to identity of the ‘Sheykhs’ whose seals are on it.”

September 20, 1911, Sheykh Obeyd

“Now came the opportunity of telling Fauzan about the Learmouth horse and getting him to make inquiries should he not have heard of it. I handed the document to Fauzan who read it carefully, studied it and the seals and then said that it was not an Arab or Bedouin statement, the style as well as writing and paper show this, that there is not a single Bedouin names in the list of seals, these names must be those of townsmen from Damascus, and as to Shammar Tuka they are not of the true Shammar (of Mesopotamia) such as Jerba and others he mentioned, that they are breeders of sheep; they have a few horses among which there may or may not be some good. He remarked that there is no mention [in the hujjah] of any person belonging to the tribe [ie, of Shammar Tuka], as breeder or seller of the horse, it is merely stated that this horse came from that tribe [ie, from Shammar Tuka] and the strain (H.S.) [ie, Hamdani Simri] is to be found in that tribe and nowhere else. (!) They have got it from the region of Nejd (nothting said about when, nor from where in Nejd). “I think this is a made up thing” was Fauzan’s final verdict. However he has promised to write to a friend there — in Damascus — asking him to find out all he can as Learmouth and the purchase made by that gentleman. By the way, the words in the pedigree about “purer than milk on the dark night when covering mares mazbutate etc” is not at all a  Bedouin phrase. I had thought as much.”

October 6, 1911 

 “Fauzan brought to Mutlak who brought it to me the answer from his Damascus friend Said Abu Dahab about the horse (Mrs. Learrmouth’s purchase then nearly two years ago). It was bred in the village of Jerud (near Damascus) and bought from [the] Juardly [ie, a man of Jerud] who bred it by Musa el Seyyid, they telling him it was Hamdani — no mention of Simri. That was what had been ascertained. A quite different story to that of the “pure as milk on a dark night” pedigree.”  

From this set of entries, who take up the better part of 2011 in Lady Anne’s Journals, it appears that Wilfrid Blunt bought a horse in London, with the intention of breeding from him, from a certain Mr. Learmouth who had acquired it, along with a certificate, from the city of Damascus. It is also clear that Lady Anne was not convinced by the certificate from the start, and took the trouble of taking it with her to Egypt where she showed it to a North Arabian acquaintance of her stud manager Mutlaq, who in turn asked someone from Damascus about the horse. It turned out the horse was bred in Jerud near Damascus, said to be a Hamdani, and sold to a Musa el Seyyid.  The certificate embellished these facts, adding that the horse was Hamdani Simri, originating from the Shammar Tuka, who got the strain from Nejd, but not providing evidence of any of that, by way of Bedouin witnesses testifiying in the certificate.

What happened to this horse is not clear. It does not look like Wilfrid Blunt ever bred from him, perhaps because Lady Anne had managed to convince him of the weakness of his certificate.

That said, the words in bold font (near Damascus, Hamdani, Musa el Seyyid) found some echo with me. Some thirteen years ago, I had translated the certificate of the 1928 stallion *Al-Mashoor (link to the translation here), imported to the US, where he left Al Khamsa eligible progeny (of which Jenny Krieg’s mare Sarita is the only descendant left today). This is an excerpt of *Al-Mashoor’s certificate, referencing his sire:

“And the sire of that horse is the Hamdani Semri of the well-known Musa al-Sayyid Abu Hamdi from the [Damascus] neighborhood of al-Midan Bab Musalla”.

So what does this mean? Not much, except that this Musa al-Sayyid who owned *Al-Mashoor’s sire in the late 1920s appears to have been active in horsebreeding since at least the early 1910s, and that fancied horses from the Hamdani strain, to the point of having owned at least two (Al-Mashoor’s sire and Mr. Learmouth’s horse) who may or may not be related.

More on the Syrian town of Jerud (or Jayrud) here.

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