Two versions on the controversial stallion Tabib (c. 1930)

By Joe Achcar

Posted on December 22nd, 2010 in General

The Beirut, Lebanon, race track built in 1910 was a rare piece of Levantine-Florentine architecture that was destroyed in 1982. The Baghdad, Iraq, race track was built in 1920. When the Bagdad racetrack was closed due to political upheavals in Iraq, horse racing in Beirut flourished. Many of the Iraqi racehorse owners began racing their horses in Beirut, where they spent the hot summer months.

Iraqi horses began to come to Beirut in the end of the 1940’s. These horses were often from a different type than the desert Syrian horses who until then were a majority at the Beirut racetrack and the Iraqis began to win nearly every race. In 1953, Gilbert Asseily, the well-known journalist in charge of the horse racing section of the French speaking news paper “L’Orient” wrote an article with the title “Why Iraqi horses are beating our horses”, where he said: “these horses are from the progeny of the Anglo Arab “Tabib” and I suggest that they run in separate races”. Of course, nobody took his advice seriously and the Iraqi horse invasion amplified after 1958 when the new Iraqi military leader Abdul Karim Kassem closed the Baghdad racetrack.

When in 1987 the Syrian Ministry of Agriculture, followed in 1990 by the Lebanese SPARCA (under General Salim Al Dahdah) compiled the pure Arab horse stud book for submission to WAHO, there was not one single descendant of any Iraqi horse in either studbook, mainly because both the Syrians and Lebanese believed that Iraqi racehorses had a doubtful origin and were not asil Arabians.

In the late 1990s, the Iraqi Arabian Horse Association issued its first WAHO approved studbook composed of Iraqi Arabs  in addition to some 100 mares and 7 stallions of Crabbet bloodlines imported from England. In browsing the pedigrees of the local Iraqi horses registered in that studbook one can fiund dozens of “Tabib’s” progeny listed as pure Arab horses. In that book Tabib is called “Dahman Amer d.b”.

There are two version on Tabib’s origin; the Lebanese/Syrian version and the Iraqi version. On the Lebanese/Syrian version:

In 1998, I wrote an article in Arabic on the “Bedouin horse, an endangered species in its own land”. One of the main reasons for this being the descendants of “Tabib” and their influence. While writing this material I had the chance to interview two friends of mine, two old gentlemen who spent all their life at the Beirut hippodrome, racing horses for nearly 60 years: the late Elias Murad and Khalil Bey Haidar who is now in his 90s. Both told the same story about “Tabib’s”: he was a grey horse originating from Cyprus; one told me that he was an Anglo Arab while the second told me that he was a full English Thouroughbred. The horse raced and won twice in Beirut in the 1930s, was rejected by the Lebanese/French classification committee and was prevented from racing again. His owner took him to Syria, namely to the Tell Kalakh region, at the Lebanese/Syrian border famous for horse breeding (Gen. Fadlallah El Haddad the stallion O’bajan from there for the Babolna stud). There he was taken by the Iraqis to Baghdad and raced under the name of “Al Souri” or “The Syrian”. 

My friend Dr. Mohamed el Nujaifi of Iraq wrote a book on “The Iraqi Arab horse” in 2005. It is a valuable source of information on the origin of the  old Iraqi Arab horses, theirs tribe of origin and their influence mainly on the modern Turkish Arab horses. The book contains the Iraqi version of the origin of the stallion “Tabib” a.k.a “Al Souri”.

According to this version, the horse  originated from the Bani Sakhr tribe of Jordan and given as a gift by the Emir Abdallah of Jordan (the future King Abdallah I of Jordan) to Saad el Dine Pasha Shatila, a very wealthy businessman and amateur of Arab horses. The Pasha wanted the horse to race in India, so he send him to Iraq to get a passport issued for him by Iraqi racing authorites. This was the only way to an Arab horse to enter India at that time, as both countries were under British rule then.

In Iraq the horse was accepted by the very strict classification committee headed by  Major Chadwick the horse raced at the Baghdad track and won two races, then he had a hoof problem and was put to stud. At horse he did not attracted many mares first because he was not a well known Iraqi horse, and second as a winner of only two ordinary races his racing record was a bit weak. The Pasha Shatila then visited Baghdad and informed the Iraqi breeders of the horse’s status as a present of King Abdallah of Joradn and the Iraqi breeders started using him more intensively.

Dr Nujaifi’s argument in defense of the horse is mainly based on the ordinary racing times recorded by  “Tabib’s” progeny on the Baghdad track. He believes that if this horse was an Anglo-Arab or a English Thoroughbred his racing abilities should have been better to other Iraqi horses.

Below is a 1986 photo of the stallion Kamel, from the sire line of Tabib. His damline is Hamdani Simri, and he is held by Usama al-Nujaifi. Usama al-Nujaifi is today the Speaker of the Iraqi House of Representatives. 


12 Responses to “Two versions on the controversial stallion Tabib (c. 1930)”

  1. My (modest) opinion on the Tabib controversy.

    Saad el Dine Pasha Shatila used to race his horses both in Lebanon and Egypt.His stables were located near the race track on the roundabout named after him “Shatila Roundabout”.
    The Pasha horses were competing with success in Lebanon and Egypt.
    For a race horse expert like the Pasha,the usual procedure after having received the horse from Emir Abdallah,should have been to test him at home,at the Beirut race track,then to Baghdad and if the horse was such a good racer,to India.
    The Pasha was very well introduced in Egypt horse race circles,having sold his “Kroush” a famous race horse,son of “Krush Halba”,to the RAS in 1936.
    More over he presented in 1945 two mares”Saadeia” and “Soua’ad” to King Farouk’s Inshass
    Personally I see it difficult the Pasha sending a horse to India, as he was more “Egypt oriented” as the majority of the Lebanese in these times.

    -I believe in Dr Mohamed al Nujaifi sincerity, knowing the man, but I want to give a clue (maybe).

    And what if there were two horses by the same name?
    The doubtful one and a true Arab horse as both of them were grey.

    This procedure was very common before the blood typing test.
    The breeder uses the Anglo, and registers the horse as the son of the pure one. The Anglo was hidden and nobody see him.

    It happened with me.A breeder leased a grey Arab horse I had bought from Princess Alia of Jordan, I was astonished as the breeder was known for his very fast horses and was asking myself “what is he going to use this horse for”?, after a while someone told me that this never intended to use the Arab! The horse was there only to give an alibi for a grey Anglo!

    We are also forget the role of the Iraqi horse merchant.
    In order to sell a horse they might have said to the buyer that “This horse is great son of Tabib” just in order to sell, knowing in those times were there was no SB no blood typing test, they could invent the story they want, especially with “Tabib’s” bad reputation.
    This was a very powerful selling argument for a race horse owner.

    Maybe the “Pure” Tabib products raced in Iraq,due to severe scrutining,this explain the “ordinary “times registered at the Baghdad track; when the “Anglo” products were reserved for export?
    “Tabib’s” grand son have registered record times in Beirut,one of them “Hisham” won the most prestigious race in Lebanon, carrying 20 kg (44 pounds,3st 2.1 lb) more than the horse who came second !

    The controversy will continue.
    The only contribution I can make is that Iraqi horses were very often superior to Syrian Bedouin horses.
    Even tough these Syrian and Lebanese horses were from the”Krush Halba” sire line; this line is still racing with great success in Turkey.

    I saw Iraqi horses from the Tabib sire line with stunning Arab beauty ,I remember the beauty of the famous “Amir el Zamane” ,he could have won in any beauty show.

  2. Dear joe
    Kroush” Saadeia” and “Soua’ad” left any Offspring’s?
    I never hear about this Horse’s.

    Descendant’s today?

  3. “Kroush” a Koheilan Nawak bought in 1936 died January 1940
    sire of
    Bushra 1940 sold Police.
    Madiha 1938 sold Sheikh Fawzan el Sabok race trainer
    Tamie 1937

    there is no breeding record for
    “Saadeia” and “Soua’ad”

  4. So you guys are essentially talking about the methods used to sneak a ringer or the progeny of a ringer into a breeding program, is that correct? One of the ,” world famous breeders in California,” who has won everything over the years has been discussed with susspicion over the years as having bred a couple of stallions to saddlebreds and then snuck the resulting get into the studbook. This is because the horses from that particular breeding program are uncommonly consistently tall- 15.2 plus, more than usually flat crouped, and less than usually dish faced. So how to detect when people choose to betray honorable breeding principles so they can more easily obtain show ring or racetrack success? This raises the question if it is possible to do a genetic test and detect Saddlebred genetic markers for example. I wonder if one of the frequent posters here who has had genetic testing done could let us know if such a test has been developed yet.
    Thank you so much
    best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  5. Bruce, please see previous responses to your invocation of “DNA testing for purity.” There is no such testing.

  6. Didn’t have DNA testing for purity, in mind. Rather DNA testing for impurity. If they are Thoroughbred crosses shouldn’t their Y chromosome be different from Asil Arabians Y chromosomes? The reason I ask is that here and there I have run across references to the ability to determine sire line parentage in reference to the Y chromosome. So you’re essentially saying that that kind of a test doesn’t exist, correct?
    Best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  7. Bruce, I understand that parentage testing via the Y chromosome cannot be done in horses. In breeds as distant as drafts and Shetlands, no difference in the Y chromosome has yet been found.

  8. See this article for more data:

  9. No difference in the Y chromosome tween shetlands and drfters- shoot. So all the talk the Thoroughbred folks do about the ,” Y chromosome from the Darley arabian is present in 95%of male Thoroughbreds,” is really just a short hand description of what is beleived to be in Weatherbys stud book?
    Oh well.
    Best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  10. Yes, that’s simply a calculation based on genealogical research. It may even be correct; the problem at this time is we can’t tell the Darley Y chromosome from the Y chromosome in any other Equus caballus. 😀

  11. The confusion on my part came from the Univ. of Kentuckys website which lists paternity testing as something they can do. Apparently you just get some hairs together and ship them off and they test them.
    Best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  12. Sure, you can do paternity testing, but that’s using the whole of the information available, not just the Y chromosome. (Otherwise you couldn’t do paternity testing on fillies!)

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