This article first appeared in The Arabian Breeders’ Magazine April 2021, where we celebrated the amazing achievements of the straight Egyptian stallion, Laheeb, who sadly passed away the following March. One year on, we share this brilliant feature by Tzviah Idan, for as the title says, Laheeb’s flame still burns brightly. You can order a copy of this magazine, to enjoy the article in full, by clicking here. Photography unless stated by Bar Hajaj
For part one in this serialisation, click here.
Although much of his siring career has taken place abroad, Laheeb has to date sired close to two hundred foals in Israel and is a leading Israeli sire of show champions and winners. Many of his Israeli-born get have competed successfully in some of the world’s toughest competitions abroad. His very first foals arrived in 1999 and among them was an exceptionally exotic and refined colt called Al Lahab, out of Ariela’s own Thee Desperado (The Minstril x AK Amiri Asmarr) daughter The Vision HG (ex Belle Star by The Minstril). Al Lahab was destined to grow up to become one of the world’s most highly decorated stallions, holding, among others, the titles of World Champion Stallion, All Nations’ Cup Champion, and Dubai International Arabian Horse Show Champion and has established himself as a major international sire for his owners, the Friedmann family of Germany.
World Champion Stallion Al Lahab (Laheeb x The Vision HG). Credit Gigi Grasso
The cross of Laheeb with The Vision was repeated several times and the results consistently proved excellent, producing one daughter, the exquisite mare Al Halah AA. Through Al Halah’s daughter Helwah AA (by Al Ayad by Moheeb) and granddaughter EKS Bint Helwah, also by Laheeb, traces the 2019 World Champion Colt EKS Farajj (Ibn Farid x EKS Bint Helwah). Al Halah’s four full brothers Al Lahab, Al Hadiyah AA (now deceased), Al Raheeb AA, and Al Wahab AA, went on to succeed in show-rings in Israel and abroad. Each then went on to establish himself as a highly sought-after breeding sire for major programmes the world over.
EKS Bint Helwah (Laheeb x Bint Helwah AA by Al Ayad out of Al Halah AA by Laheeb), dam of World Champion EKS Farajj. Credit Alessio Azzali
Ariela still retains the youngest of the four, Al Wahab AA for their own programme, and this exciting horse is currently on lease in Spain with Phillip Looyens of the Shiodome Group who commented: “When we heard about the possibility of leasing Al Wahab AA, the decision for us at Shiodome was very quickly made. Knowing his pedigree well, being admirers of Laheeb’s complete look and the consistency of the Ariela programme, we believe Al Wahab AA, with his smooth conformation, small ears and big black eyes, can contribute to any breeding programme, from straight Egyptian to mixed blood programmes around the world.”
Al Wahab AA (Laheeb x The Vision HG). Credit Antonia Bautista
It goes beyond the scope of this article to list all of the national and international champions that Laheeb sired in Israel, but one particular mare must be mentioned: the straight Egyptian Laheeb daughter Badawiyeh AA out of Bahiha (Baahir x Imperial Imtiarah), Junior Female Champion at the Israeli Egyptian Event and also Israeli National Champion Filly. Although Israel and the UAE established diplomatic relations through the Abraham Accords only last year, it was over ten years earlier that Badawiyeh was quietly purchased by the Ajman Stud, UAE, with the help of European middlemen. She went on to win several prestigious championship titles in the Arabian Gulf as well as Europe for her Emirati owners. This beautiful Laheeb daughter proved the old adage that Arabian horses can, and do, bring people together in extraordinary ways.
Badwaiyah AA (Laheeb x Bahiha), Silver Champion Mare at the World Championships. Credit Gigi Grasso
Renowned American judge, breeder and bloodstock agent Raymond Mazzei is a respected world authority on Polish bloodlines, and he noted the consistency of Laheeb’s first Polish get while they were still very young. He finally got his chance to see their sire first-hand during a private visit to Israel in 2003 and recalls: “I was so completely taken with Laheeb that it made no difference to me what his breeding was; I already knew his foals, and I realised that I was looking at a major phenomenon.”
Raymond returned to Israel one year later to serve on the judging panel that would eventually award Laheeb with his third Israeli National Championship title. Following the show, he proposed to Laheeb’s owners that the horse should travel to America to stand at public stud under his own management. A deal was struck and Laheeb flew to California during the summer of 2005 to prepare for the 2006 and 2007 breeding seasons at Furioso Farms and Ferlita Arabians.
Raymond always maintained, and still believes, that Laheeb is the most important Arabian breeding stallion alive today and remains forever grateful to Ariela for entrusting him with their treasured stallion: “Laheeb is a rare ‘cross-over’ stallion,” he explains. “He is not only able to create great straight Egyptians, but is so prepotent in type, style, quality, and movement that he improves horses from whatever Arabian strain he is used on.
“Although Laheeb represents what is best in the straight Egyptians, he passes on none of the straight Egyptians’ typical weaknesses. Laheeb has all that is treasured in the Egyptian Arabian: unsurpassed breed type; dignified presence; an ultra-exotic, perfectly proportioned head; a high-set, gracefully arched neck; superb balance and strength of coupling; smooth shoulders and quarters of good length, strength and slope; a well-muscled, horizontal topline with a highly placed and proudly carried tail; good three-dimensional substance with plentiful width, depth and muscular development; squarely placed limbs with clean, dense bone and wide sinewy tendons; and a free-moving, animated stride with a distinct aristocratic carriage.”
While in America Laheeb was shown only once, at the prestigious Egyptian Event in Lexington, Kentucky, where he was awarded the title 2006 Egyptian Event Reserve Supreme Champion Stallion behind his own son, Al Lahab. In February 2008, after finishing his breeding obligations in California, Laheeb once again headed for Michałów Stud in Poland.
Laheeb’s story seems almost to come full circle when Egyptian breeder Dr Nasr Marei again visited Israel as one of three distinguished judges presiding over the 2007 Israeli National Championship Show. When the final results were in, four out of the eight national champions selected turned out to be sired by Laheeb.
In a previous interview, Nasr recalled feeling: “… Kind of proud of myself… For not having been wrong in my first assessment of Laheeb eleven years earlier, at just three months old.”
When he left Israel following the show, Nasr was wondering how he might incorporate Laheeb’s blood into his own straight Egyptian programme. Deciding he had nothing to lose, he telephoned Chen who immediately agreed to an historic lease exchange. This deal sent Laheeb to Egypt and Nasr’s own stallion, Simeon Sharav (Asfour x Simeon Shuala), to Israel.
“The second time I ever laid eyes on Laheeb was at the Cairo International Airport, the day he arrived to stay with me for a breeding season,” Nasr recalled. “From the moment I saw him, I was awestruck. He looked so impressive, gentle, magnificent, and regal. I hugged him and rushed him to the farm, to his new, freshly painted stall that gave him a view of the garden and swimming pool. I could look down from my bedroom window and see him there, enjoying the beautiful garden. He was flanked by my two major stallions, Farid Albadeia (Ameer Albadeia x Farida) and Magd Albadeia (Rashdan x Bint Makhsous). An awesome trio. I was extremely proud and thankful to have them at my farm.
“Laheeb is a dream horse. He is beautiful, very complete and without defects. His disposition is unbelievable. I have never seen a stallion as gentle and peaceful as Laheeb, all without losing a bit of any of the traits that you want in a stallion. He is tremendously charismatic and always the perfect gentleman.”
Following his stay in Egypt, Laheeb ended his globetrotting abroad and has since remained at home in Israel where he has been heavily used on the farm herd and by other Israeli breeders. Laheeb had a lot of siring waiting for him back home, and although we cannot cover all of his more recent Ariela progeny, we can touch on some of the most prominent.
Laheeb in 2011. Credit Shalomi Nissim
The third and final part of this series will be published next week.
For more features from The Arabian Breeders’ Magazine, click here.