Qatar: A Country Always Moving Forward
Since time immemorial human ingenuity and spirit have allowed people, countries, and civilizations to move forward, sometimes with breathtaking speed and success. That is Qatar; witnessed over the last two decades, the transformation of a small nation based on the pearl industry into one of the world's modern marvels, as well as the wealthiest country on a per capita basis.
Within this dynamic country, tradition still had its role, one being Arabian Horse breeding. In the early '90s, HH The Father Emir dispatched one of his deputies, Shk Hamad Bin Ali Al Thani, to seek out and purchase new stock for the Al Shaqab breeding program. The purchases made in these early days would have enormous consequences within Arabian Horse breeding. Shk Hamad Bin Ali, through the patronage of HH The Father Emir, began the foundation that would go on to produce, World Champion Al Adeed Al Shaqab, World Champion Gazal Al Shaqab, and later, World Champion Marwan Al Shaqab.
As the country grew and prospered borne out of a spirit rarely known, so went the Al Shaqab horse program. After a decade of unrivaled success, and never wanting to be complacent or satisfied that one couldn't do more, Shk Hamad Bin Ali was once again dispatched to add new mares. This time it was for the specific purpose of breeding to their World Champion Stallions.
Landing in America in the Spring of 2006, Shk Hamad started at the top of the vast country and went from coast to coast. From one end of the country to the other, he searched through farms large and small, picking up gems along the way. He completed his arduous task satisfied that he had added mares that he believed to be the perfect complement to the Al Shaqab stallions.
His selection process was not always easy to follow; it was often intuitive rather than cerebral. He would visualize a mare with a particular stallion, not just that he liked the horse; two examples being OFW Mishaal and White Silkk. Neither mare was perfect, but his instinct told him these mares would be excellent for Marwan Al Shaqab. Sometimes against the advice of his companions, he chose anyway and chose correctly. The resulting foals from these mares include World Champions: Kahil Al Shaqab, Wadee Al Shaqab, and Hariry Al Shaqab.
Qatar continued to flourish, and its prominence in the Arabian Horse sport was unrivaled. But Shk Hamad Bin Ali was not right. A kidney transplant was needed, his ability to fend off internal forces weakened, and he was retired. The collective Arabian horse fraternity was losing the inspiration that had driven the breed for nearly two decades. A new team was installed and immediately enjoyed the success of the ideas that had come from the small man with enormous energy. At times the new group said horses like Kahil Al Shaqab were not "their vision for Al Shaqab" and made him return to the box at a Paris show, only to come out again later and be named World Champion.
There is a saying, "When you are good, people notice." The spectacular job that Shk Hamad Bin Ali Al Thani had done for Al Shqab did not go unnoticed. After recovering from his kidney transplant and returning to full strength and vigor, he returned to his post of Manager of Al Shaqab. In typical fashion, Shk Hamad arrived back to his position at a gallop. He assessed the herd and culled as needed. Shk Hamad arranged the lease of two legendary stallions to add some new outcross blood. He reviewed and adjusted as needed. The result, as expected, has been beautiful.
Can the Arabain horse world appropriately thank Qatar, HH The Father Emir, and Shk Hamad Bin Ali? Yes, by continuing to honor what they have done, the men who did it, and utilizing their gifts to the world; the Al Shaqab stallions.