Sharkasi — looking again

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.


Farghalli Pasha



11 Responses to “Sharkasi — looking again”

  1. It took me less time than I thought to find him. Mohammed Ahmed Farghalli Pasha was known as the “King of Cotton”, and is all over the internet. He has his own Arabic Wikipedia page, where it is mentioned that he spent time in the Smooha racetrack in Alexandria, and that he published his autobiography in 1984, under the title of “I lived my life among these”. I should very much like to get it.

  2. I found his autobiography online:

    It has some ten references to horse racing, of which four are relevant:

    1st reference: he speaks of a meeting with Gamal Salem (one of 1952 revolution military officers) which took place “On Saturday, at the Gezira Club in Cairo, to which I used to go from Alexandria to watch my horses race”.
    2nd reference: he mentions asking his people to cancel the participation of nine of his horses in the races on that day, so that he could allow more time for that meeting with the military officer.
    3rd reference: he speaks of meeting Mohamed Naguid, the 1952 coup leader, in Alexandria at the Samooha racetrack.
    4th reference: mentions Ahmed Aboud Pasha (another of Egypt’s wealthiest people at that time) and their meeting at the Gezira racetrack in Cairo

    Bottom line: horses and racing were an important part of Farghalli Pasha’s life.

  3. Edoaurd,
    So enjoy your journeys and reporting on the horses. Keep it up and thank you.

  4. Edouard: good job! With the larger than expected amount of substantial new eygyptians starting to turn up its helpful to know that the performance end of things has a basis in desert breeding
    best wishes
    bruce Peek

  5. Interesting information about Sharkasi. Of course the Pyramid Society on its web site says that its definition of a straight Egyptian horse excludes “Registan and Sharkasi and their lineal descendants.”

  6. Ibn Ghalabawi is also excluded, no?

  7. My memory is not what it was, but didn’t the Upper Egypt origin also reference two generations of crossing to un-named EAO remount sires? That seems to make the two versions completely incompatible.

    Was there ever any explanation of the switch?

  8. The Asil Club definition expressly excludes the Ibn Ghalabawi line. The Pyramid Society definition does not.

  9. you’re right there were supposed to be two generations of sires from al Zabrah farm; the only explanation is these are two different pieces of information from two separate sources.

  10. There is an old issue of the Journal of the Arab Horse Society that is supposed to have a list of Egyptian stallion depots..

  11. In the Anthology of articles from the Journal of the Arab Horse Society there is an article called “Visit to Royal Agricultural Society’s Stud Farm at Kafr Farouk” by a visit from someone in England (no byline) to Egypt and it lists 11 provinces each with several districts where stallions under management from the RAS are standing. This does not mean that these are all RAS bred horses. (In fact two of these are labeled as Thoroughbreds.) In the list there are some of the Wentworth stallions who left no registered get at RAS. (All of this would be before Sharkasi’s era according to the dates in the WAHO report which imply a foaling year of 1941 for Sharkasi.) The article does not give a specific date but it had to be mid 1930s shortly after Trouncer’s stud got underway as the author describes a visit to his stud. At Trouncer’s were some of the horses mentioned in Humphrey’s visit of 1932 to Egypt where these horses were still at the Princes before dispersal to Trouncer and others. By the time of this article Prince Mohammed Ali’s Negma was at Trouncer’s along with the DB mare Hegazieh who was seen by Humphrey at Prince Kemal El Dine’s in 1932. I believe shortly after Humphrey’s visit Prince KED had dispersed his horses due to health issues. In fact, Prince KED died shortly after Humphrey’s visit in 1932.

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