Setting the World Alight: QR Marc
Words by Samantha Mattocks
There is little doubt that our brilliant cover star is one of the leading sires in the world right now. With champion-winning get and grand-get found in over 30 countries around the world, QR Marc continues to set the world alight. Now 13-years young, this stallion remains as irresistible as ever. Bred in the US, QR Marc is the undisputed king of Knocke Arabians in Belgium, a place he has called home for most of his life. Owned by Paul and Ria Gheysens, QR Marc has become one of the greatest horses of this generation – and his is a story that is far from finished.
QR Marc is a very special horse. The fact that he is a World Champion Stallion, as well as a triple World Champion in the Middle East, is almost immaterial. As is the fact that his progeny have won World and European Championship titles, along with a host of titles around the world. Or even that his grandget are now also taking titles. All of this is just the icing on the cake of a horse who was born to be special, regardless of show-ring accolades. And the fact that he has won these titles only enhances the reputation of this great stallion.
From before he was born, it was almost set in stone that QR Marc was going to captivate. His pedigree is illustrious, containing some of the world’s most well-known and admired names in living memory. At every generation, horses of note can be found and indeed, QR Marc’s sire line is one of the most revered in recent history, going back to the amazing 1934 straight Egyptian stallion Nazeer (Mansour x Bint Samiha by Kazmeen), a horse whose influence continues to be felt the world over. It would be his son, Morafic (ex Mabrouka by Sid Abouhom out of Moniet el Nefous) that would be influential in QR Marc’s sire line, being the sire of both Shaikh Al Badi (ex Bint Maisa El Saghira by Nazeer out of Maisa) and also Khofo (ex Nabilahh by Anter out of Farasha), the sire in turn of the exceptional mare Bint Magidaa (ex Magidaa by Alaa el Din out of Maysa). Bint Magidaa was covered by Shaikh Al Badi in 1975 and the following year, the legendary Ruminaja Ali arrived in the world. But what makes QR Marc so special is that this line is also repeated though his dam as Ruminaja Ali is this stallion’s great-great-grandsire on both sides of his pedigree.
Continuing down QR Marc’s sire line, Ruminaja Ali covered the Ansata Ibn Halima (by Nazeer) daughter Bint Deenaa (ex Deenaa by Sameh out of Dahma II), resulting in the fabled 1988 bay straight Egyptian stallion Anaza El Farid. When crossed with the Polish mare Kajora (Kaborr x Edjora by Exelsjor), the living legend Gazal Al Shaqab was born, a World Champion himself and a stallion whose progeny have gone on to capture the imagination of the world. A further influx of Polish lines came through the mare Little Liza Fame (ex Katahza by Aza Destiny out of Afhar Rahza); her sire was the brilliant US National Champion Fame VF, himself a son of the Polish giant Bey Shah (Bay el Bey x Star of Ofir by Bask) and out of the Crabbet/Gainey mare Raffoleta-Rose (Raffon x Leta Rose by Gamaar). When Little Liza Fame was crossed with Gazal Al Shaqab, the result was the triple World Champion Marwan Al Shaqab, a horse who is now eighteen years of age.
The influence of Ruminaja Ali continues through QR Marc’s damline, this time through his famed son Ali Jamaal (ex Heritage Memory by El Magato out of Heritage Labelle). There is also more Polish and Gainey blood in QR Marc’s damline, too, through the mare The Dreamspinner. She is by the Bask grandson Aristo Kossak (Ariston x Four Winds Kalifa by Cytrys) and out of the Naborr granddaughter Myrilinan Acledo (Gai-Adventure x Jem Mar Amyri by Comar Azamyr). Ali Jamaal and The Dreamspinner were bred together in 1991 and the result was the deep bay stallion Magic Dream CAHR, a multiple champion in the US and now based in South Africa. The final line in QR Marc’s pedigree is though his dam, Swete Dreams, a small chestnut mare by Magic Dream and out of Kouream de Ment (Kouros x Rawhides Amenda by Bagdad of Rawhide), who brings in a flavour of the Spanish Arabian bloodlines. The result of these lines was one incomparable bay colt, born in 2005.
The show horse
Bred in California, by Lou and Vicki Doyle of Quail Ridge Arabians, QR Marc became an overnight sensation the moment he was born. Born during the Scottsdale All-Arabian Horse Show, word quickly got out about the extraordinary type, beauty and charisma of this new-born colt foal. It became a race against time to see who would get to California first to see this foal, and it would be the great breeder, Roxann Hart of Rohara Arabians in Orange Lake, Florida, who was the lucky one. Roxann recognised the quality of QR Marc immediately, and it would be she that would propel the young colt to the global stage, as well as showing his early promise as a sire. Across the US, Marc’s get and grandget have swept the shows, earning titles galore and also adding to the heart of many breeding programmes.
With Rohara, QR Marc earned the titles of 2006 Unanimous Region 14 Sweepstakes Yearling Colt and 2006 US Nationals Reserve Champion Breeders Sweepstakes Colt; this young stallion’s amazing journey had begun.
QR Marc would be two years of age when Paul Gheysens first saw him. “I was looking for a very special colt to become the chief sire of my own farm, Knocke Arabians, in Belgium,” explains Paul. “As soon as I saw Marc, I knew that he had extraordinary potential, and preparations were made to bring him to Europe.”
Following winter in Europe, the now three-year old QR Marc competed for the first time under the Knocke Arabians banner. At the inaugural Al Khalediah Arabian Horse Festival – now the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz International Arabian Horse Festival – QR Marc entered the ring for the first time for his new owners. Everyone stopped what they were doing, including other handlers in the ring, as all watched this incredibly showy bay make his debut. We all stood, transfixed – and were the judges – and QR Marc left the show with the first of many Gold Championship titles to come. This story has been told many times before, but it is always worth repeating as it underlines the power of QR Marc, and how captivating he truly is to all who meet him. Over the coming 12 months, QR Marc was named Gold Junior Male Championship at the Elran Cup in Belgium, and Reserve World Champion in Paris, a title he would take twice more.
QR Marc’s stellar year came in 2012. Having spent the intervening years earning a name for himself as a great sire, QR Marc returned to the show-ring and four consecutive Gold Senior Male Championships – at the Abu Dhabi International Arabian Horse Championships, the Dubai International Arabian Horse Championships, the All Nations’ Cup, Aachen, and then the ultimate Gold as he was named World Champion Stallion in Paris. Underlining Marc’s quality and stamp as a sire, at that same Paris Show, his daughter Wieza Mocy was crowned Gold Junior Female World Champion while his son, Equator, received the Silver Junior Male Championship title. Five of the World Top Tens awards went to horses from Knocke Arabians’ own stables, including Emerson KA, Orfa D’Arab KA and Espressivo. Marc – the legend – was born. It would be three years later, in 2015, that QR Marc would be named Leading Sire at the Paris World Championships, a huge accolade and one that Paul and Ria are rightly proud of.
The title of Lead Sire in Paris was well deserved, and it had been a long time coming. From the moment the first foals of QR Marc were born, they underlined the potential that so many had seen in this young colt – now a superlative stallion. It is impossible to even try to list his remarkable progeny here in full, but below are some highlights.
One of the most perfect wives of QR Marc is the wonderful FS Magnum’s Madonna. From the very beginning, it was part of Paul and Ria’s vision to find a mare who would complement their future lead sire. “We knew that Madonna would match Marc in every way, and complement his many strengths,” explains Paul. “This beautiful black mare has more than exceeded our expectations.”
Bred in South Africa by Strydom Arabians, FS Madonna is sired by Magnum Psyche (ex A Fancy Miracle by Sasaki out of Medina Azahara). Magnum Psyche is a son of the late Padrons Psyche (Padron x Kilika by Tamerlan), a stallion of huge global influence and who spent his later days at Knocke Arabians. Madonna’s damline brings in the Polish influence that the Gheysens’ based their early breeding programme on, being Tai Bey Brittney (ex Tanzeers Valentine by Bluesprucetanzeer out of Bellabuzella), a daughter of the legendary Polish giant, Bey Shah (by Bay el Bey out of Star of Ofir by Bask). With classical Egyptian and Polish lines also found through Tai Bey Brittney’s damline, it is little wonder that Paul and Ria considered Magnum’s Madonna the perfect bride for QR Marc. She has blessed the farm with many full siblings, several of which have gone on to start a legacy for farms around the world. Such examples include the stallions Marius Madonna KA, foaled in 2013, and Magnums Volcan KA, foaled 2014, both sold to Israel last year where they are now creating their own legacy.
However, of all the Marc/Madonna progeny, it is the first thee foals that remain the most important. Foaled in 2010 were the full sisters Marc’s Star, Magnums Rose, and Magnums Tulip. Just a year later, Marc’s Star, a very showy bay, took the European Junior Female Championship. Magnums Tulip, a very feminine chestnut, has won countless titles in the show-ring, including the Gold Junior Female Championship at the 2011 UK International Arabian Horse Show and countless Reserve/Silver titles across Europe. Magnums Rose, meanwhile, continues to shine as a show mare, being a double Gold Senior Female Champion at the Bruges National Championships. All three mares – Marc’s Star, Magnums Rose and Magnums Tulip – remain very much at the heart of Knocke Arabians.
Paul and Ria have bred their next generation from these beautiful mares with great results, and many of their offspring remain at Knocke Arabians. These include Magnums Lady KA, out of Magnums Tulip and by her paternal half-brother, Espressivo (ex Emocja by Monogramm out of Emigracja). Bred by Knocke Arabians, the nine-year old Espressivo is a true look-alike son of QR Marc and, having won multiple-championships across Europe and the Middle East, he is now owned by the Tehran Stud in Iran.
Magnums Rose was also linebred, this time to QR Marc himself, and remaining at the farm are the bay two-year old full brother and sister, Maverick KA and Mirage KA, both by QR Marc. Magnums Rose has also produced a two-year old grey son of the much-admired SMA Magic One (Psytadel x Majidah bint Pacha by AS Sinan’s Pacha), Magnum’s Magic KA. His full sister, Maxine KA, was foaled in 2017. Marc’s Star, meanwhile, has been bred to stallions such as Trussardi (Stival x Precious as Gold by El Shaklan), resulting in the 2014 stallion, Marc’s Macho KA – one of many hidden gems tucked away at the beautiful farm in Belgium.
Undoubtedly the second-most important cross for QR Marc has been with the Polish bloodlines. Paul and Ria themselves successfully bred many offspring from this cross, and then the Polish State Studs, in particular Janów Podlaski and Michalów, also had remarkable success. Their Marc progeny not only won the major titles in Poland, but also across Europe and the United States. The three best examples of this are the Michałów-bred Wieża Mocy (ex Wieza Marzen by Ekstern out of Wiazma) and Equator (ex Ekliptyka by Ekstern out of Ekspozycja), as well as Pogrom (ex Petla by Visbaden out of Petra), bred by Janów Podlaski. All three excelled in Europe before being leased to farms in the US – Oak Ridge Arabians, Aljassimya Farm and Midwest Station II. All won major titles in Europe before garnering titles at the US Nationals, the Scottsdale Show and the Arabian Breeders’ Alliance World Cup in Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, Paul and Ria crossed Palanga (Ekstern x Panika by Eukaliptus) with QR Marc to produce the stallions Pavarotto KA, who won a host of titles across Europe before being sold to Rohara Arabians, and Panthos KA, now a nine-year old stallion retained by the Stud. Profender KA, a full brother born in 2010 and sold within Belgium, continues to set show-rings alight with his powerful movement. The aforementioned Espressivo was out of a Polish damline, as was Penelope KA (ex Polonia by Ekstern out of Pasja), sold to Al Thumama Stud in Qatar and Gold European Junior Female Champion.
The progeny of Espadrilla (Monogramm out of Emanacja by Eukaliptus) are particularly noteworthy. The full siblings Equiborn KA and Estokada KA, foaled in 2012 and 2013 respectively, have shone in the show-ring. Both grey, the pair have won countless titles between them, with both beginning their winning ways as yearlings. Equiborn carries the hopes of Paul and Ria for the next generation, and he is a double Silver World Champion Colt as well as a Bronze Junior Male World Champion. Now, of course, Equiborn is siring his own progeny at the farm, as well as for astute breeders, and you just know that this is a story only jut beginning.
“I am very happy with Equiborn,” said Paul while in Paris. “Marc did not win his world title until he was seven years old, and I think that Equiborn will be the same. I do not like to rush him, he has so much to offer, and he is a great example of how dynamic the Marc sons are. We are thrilled with what our homebred stallion has achieved so far.” So, like his sire before him, his time will come.
Marc has also crossed with other bloodlines with ease. Nadira KA is a four-year old grey out of CN Neville (Delmar x AF Golena by Negorni), an amazing mare whose progeny have had a terrific influence at Knocke Arabians. Nadira KA is an incredibly feminine grey whose wins include the Gold title at the Belgian National Championships. Full brother Newton KA, foaled in 2011 and retained by Knocke Arabians, has also been a big winner for the stud. And then there is Orfa D’Arab KA, out of OSO Axotica (Monogramm x Algoda by Gokart), a big-winning, graceful eight-year-old chestnut mare. She, too, has been linebred to her sire, with her foals still residing at Knocke Arabians.
And of course, the champions keep on coming; Poseidon KA is a great example of the Gheysens linebreeding programme as, sired by QR Marc, he is out of one of the first QR Marc daughters bred at Knocke Arabians, Primera Marc (ex Polenta by Ecaho out of Pilica). Foaled in 2017, this charismatic grey was named Gold Yearling Colt Champion Best in Show at the recent Bruges European Show. Meanwhile, stablemate Justify KA, sired by QR Marc and out of the beautiful mare Jolfa de Nautiac (Marajj x Jalicia de Nautiac) took the Best in Show title for the Bruges International Show as well as the Gold Yearling Colt Champion title. Justify KA really does have the QR Marc stamp to him, and this bay yearling should go far. As if that weren’t enough, Knocke Arabians also left the show with five further champions all sired by QR Marc: the Gold Yearling Filly Championship went to Pearl Eden KA (ex Prisma de Lafon by WH Justice out of Papouchka); Emperor KA (ex Exposita KA by QR Marc out of Ekina) took the Silver Junior Male Championship; the Bronze Yearling Filly Championship went to Joumina KA (ex Joumalia Nautiac by Marajj out of Jalicia de Nautiac); Portia KA (ex Priske by Galba out of Polonia) took the Bronze Junior Female Championship; and the Bronze Yearling Colt title went to Marnix KA (ex Moghtarrah by Marwan Al Shaqab out of Maroutssia). Quite the occasion for the Knocke Arabians breeding programme!
Looking outside of the farm, WW Indih (ex Ivernah by Crusader out of Ivanah), bred by Veronica Mann-Wernstern, has been a huge winner. Outside of Europe, during QR Marc’s lease to the Dubai Arabian Stud, he sired a host of champions including D Mshary, out of FT Shaella (Shael Dream Desert x Soul Pretty TGS by Shahllenger), whose titles include Gold Junior Male Champion at the All Nations’ Cup, Silver at the Menton Mediterranean and Arab Countries Championships, and Bronze at the Paris World Championships. In the US, Rae-Dawn Arabians have won many titles with their beautiful nine-year old QR Marc daughter, RD Marciena (ex NW Sienna Psyche by Padrons Psyche out of NV Shanteuse), including US National Champion and Arabian Breeders’ World Cup Supreme Champion. The list really is endless.
Many of the QR Marc daughters and granddaughters at Knocke Arabians have been crossed with another international global superstar stallion – the legendary WH Justice (Magnum Psyche x Vona-Sher Renea by El Sher-Mann), who has been standing at Knocke Arabians. The results will, undoubtedly, continue to keep the Knocke Arabian homebreds shining in the show-ring, along with the QR Marc progeny that continue to come up, and I cannot wait to see them.
I have followed the path of QR Marc from that first moment that he stepped into the ring in Saudi Arabia ten years ago. Since then, I have fallen under his spell time and time again – and not just Marc himself, but his progeny as well. For me, QR Marc exudes Arabian type and he displays all the qualities that we so love to see in our Arabian horses. One moment, he can be the ultimate show horse and then the next minute, the gentle giant who allows children to shower him with affection. QR Marc is still so young, and you cannot help but wonder at what will come next from this true fairytale story of a charismatic Arabian horse and his wonderful progeny. I have a feeling that, perhaps, the best is yet to come.