The stallion Sergent-Major in the “Al-Dahdah Index”

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on July 22nd, 2009 in Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, USA

I recently shared with you my plan to propose the mare *Lebnaniah for inclusion in the Roster of Al-Khamsa horses as of 2010. The process is very thorough, usually involving several individuals putting their research skills together. It typically takes several years to complete. As part of this process, I will be sending the Al Khamsa Board original information about *Lebnaniah’s ancestors – information that was not available before.

Much of this information is actually included in “Al-Dahdah Index” (don’t laugh), an annotated catalog of noteworthy asil and non-asil horses that were bred in the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, the northern Arabian desert, etc) throughout the twentieth century. I have already shared with you the entries on the stallion Shaykh al-Arab and Kayane.

The “Al-Dahdah Index” is a living document, which I have been patiently working on for the past twelve years, and I update as often as I can.  The information is based on oral and written primary sources from the Middle East — i.e., it is not extracted from books written by Western travelers, horse buyers, and other occasional visitors. I would like to see the “Al-Dahdah Index” published some day, but not before I add a couple thousand more entries. I think I’ll give it another ten years or so, before getting it out in print. It’s the project of a lifetime.

Zamal, by Sergent-Major. Photo taken at the Beirut racetrack by John Williamson

The stallion Sergent-Major is the sire of the mare *Lebnaniah and the stallion *Zamal. Both were imported to the USA by Preston Dyer for W.R. Hearst in 1947. The above photo of the handsome *Zamal was taken at the Beirut racetrack by John Williamson, the photographer of the Hearst/Dyer expedition. The photo is from the collection of Suzi Morris, and is published on the website of Arieana Arabians.

There are currently about four hundred entries in the “Al-Dahdah Index”, of which that on Sergent-Major is one. I reproduced it below, in the interest of transparency (underlined terms refer the reader to other entries in the “Al-Dahdah Index”):


SERGENT-MAJOR: Grey asil stallion [photo available];

Strain: Hadban al-Fawa’irah; a branch of Hadban al-Nazhi. The origin of the strain of Hadban al-Fawa’irah is with the Fawa’irah, a small but noble and very wealthy sheep-herding Bedouin tribe pasturing in the area extending from Hims and Hama to the north down to the Golan (al-Julan) plateau in the south; the strain is a celebrated strain among the horse-breeders of the region of Hims and Hamah in Central Syria. The Shaykh of al-Fawa’irah, a man named Fad’us, was a main breeder of the strain of Hadban al-Fawa’irah, and supplied the Beirut racetrack with such good asil racehorses as Hadban Fad’us and Ghazal. Both are closely related to Sergent-Major.

Sire: Padishah, a chestnut Kuhaylan Dunaysan (the strain is also known as Kuhaylan al-Dunays), from the marbat of the al-Mi’rabi landlords of Lebanon, and known as the marbat of the “Dunaysat of ‘Uyun al-Ghizlan” (in reference to a village in the Northern Lebanese plain of ‘Akkar where the Mir’abi lords used to keep their horses); Padishah was sired by Ma’naghi Halba and was raced in Beirut by Henri Firaun (or Henri Pharaon); he was out of a Kuhaylah Dunaysah mare of the Mir’abi landlords of Northern Lebanon. The Dunaysan marbat originally goes back to the tribe of Sba’ah.

Dam: a grey Hadbat al-Fawa’irah.

Racing and breeding career: Sergent-Major raced successfully in Beirut, Lebanon and was later used as a breeding stallion in the governement-owned breeding facility of Ablah in the Biqa’ plain, Lebanon; he was possibly owned by the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture; he was active in the 1930’s and early 1940’s. He was the fastest racehorse of his time, according to Syrian breeder Ali al-Barazi who knew Sergent-Major and whose book has a nice photo of him.

Progeny: Sergent Major is the sire of the mare *Lebnaniah, and of the stallion *Zamal, both imported to the United States of America by Preston Dyer for W.R. Hearst in 1947. Sergent Major also sired numerous asil horses registered in the draft Lebanese Studbook submitted to WAHO in 1974. None of these horses left any asil progeny in Lebanon today. The late Marquis M?sa de Freije claimed that Sa’dah, the dam of the stallion Sa’d al-’Arab (by Shaykh al-’Arab) was a daughter of Sergent-Major. However, many breeders of Central Syria (the region of Hims and Hamah) agree that Sa’dah was by an unknown horse, possibly of non-Arabian blood, called ’Abduh.

One Response to “The stallion Sergent-Major in the “Al-Dahdah Index””

  1. The Al Dahdah Index looks like a fascinating project. I like the way you have organized the information on the entry of Sergent Major. Even if we have to wait 10 years or more, no doubt it will be well-worth the wait.
    No, Edouard, definitely not laughing….

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