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The Legacy of Simeon Sadik
An Interview with Australia's Marion Richmond

     Countless horse breeders have enjoyed success stories of their own, but few can rival the consistency and exemplary accomplishments of Australia's Simeon Stud. For decades, Marion Richmond has bred world class Arabian horses of the finest Egyptian bloodlines, and her horses are sought after the world over. Simeon-bred stock has been acquired by astute breeders from the USA, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Qatar, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Belgium, Czech Republic, South Africa and more!
     While some breeders will insist that luck or good fortune plays a part in the output of a good breeding program, more often than not a phenomenally successful breeding farm owes its reputation to one or more horsemen with a keen eye, plenty of old-fashioned hard work and years of trial and error. Money helps, but keen breeders with limited budgets can easily outperform unwise or misinformed big spenders. In the case of Simeon Stud, Richmond visualized the type of Arabian horse she wished to breed, and with her specific objectives in mind she sought to acquire the best breeding stock she could afford, prompting one writer to state:

It is no accident that Australian breeder Marion Richmond has the mixture of objective judgment  and instinctive taste known as 'an eye for a horse.' From an early age, she honed her skills in the highly competitive world of pedigreed dogs, where her parents, Ruth and Peter Simon, bred, showed, and judged longhaired dachshunds. (Slater, 2002).
     By the time Richmond imported the outstanding mare 27 Ibn Galal-5 from Hungary, she had already been recognized for her contributions to Arabian breeding. The mare from the government stud in Bàblona, however, would secure Richmond a well-deserved place on any Who's Who list of international Arabian horse breeders for many years to come. From 27 Ibn Galal-5, Richmond raised a number of exceptional daughters, including Simeon Safanad, the dam of internationally-known stallions Simeon Shai and Simeon Sadik.
Marion Richmond with Simeon Sadik
     It is Simeon Sadik, who grabbed the attention of Shirley and Charlie Watts of England's Halsdon Stud. While accompanying Charlie - longtime drummer for the Rolling Stones - on a tour in Australia, Shirley paid a visit to Simeon Stud to see the already-famous black stallion in the flesh.  In a 2000 Araber Journal article by Judith Wich, Watts related, "When I saw Simeon Sadik, I was overwhelmed.  My first impression was that he's the most beautiful horse I have ever met" (p. 18/22).  Thoroughly smitten, she asked for a price, and the rest is history. In fact, the sale made history, because a then-world record sum was paid for the horse. Simeon Sadik's fabulous show career continued under the ownership of the Watts', and his impact at Halsdon has been immeasurable. His Halsdon-bred offspring have been exported to important stables as well.

     Though Simeon Sadik passed away on Christmas Day in 2012, his legacy continues through his progency and the subsequent generations of fine Arabian horses who mirror his exemplary traits and possess the prepotency to pass them on.
     Some time back, Marion Richmond took time to reflect on Simeon Sadik and his indelible impact, and our exchange of questions and answers follows:

Greg Freeman: Your decision to acquire 27 Ibn Galal-5 years ago certainly proved to be monumental, because her daughter Simeon Safanad produced two internationally influential stallions:  Simeon Shai and Simeon Sadik, as well as several outstanding and productive daughters.  The ability to assess a horse thoroughly and objectively, and the good fortune of buying great quality when the opportunity presents itself are key, but would you agree that the foundation of any great breeding program is decidedly impacted by great mare families?

Marion Richmond: 27 Ibn Galal-5 (imported from Bàbolna, Hungary), I think, would be one of the most successful broodmares of all time, through her descendants throughout the world, many of whom are champions in their own country. I think her great success is due partly to her correct conformation and hardiness. When Galal died - after pulling a huge farm dray [in Hungary], taking a two-year journey to arrive in Australia and being the very first Australian champion mare - she had unblemished legs, no swellings, clean legs. Quite wonderful. Also helping Galal, being the granddam that she was, is also due to her pedigree, which carries three crosses to the world famous Egyptian mare Yosreia, who was herself the dam of so many very famous and productive horses including Aswan at Tersk Stud in the USSR, imported from the Egyptian Agricultural Organization (EAO) in Egypt.
     In my opinion, the mare has a far greater impact on the resulting foal than the sire. When I started breeding only straight Egyptians, I purchased excellent females and then after several years purchased my first male, the legendary Asfour, as a colt still on his dam.

Greg:  Did Simeon Shai and Simeon Sadik secure your global reputation as a formidable breeder of fine Arabians of straight Egyptian breeding?

Marion:  Many years ago, we showed horses in several major shows when there were sometimes over forty horses in a class with one judge who was usually an international expert.  After the show, the judge would ask to go to the farm where his champions came from. That is how we first came to the notice of overseas breeders, as both Simeon Sadik and Simeon Shai won major international shows. Simeon Shai set a world record and to this day I am not sure if this record has been broken. Simeon Shai won, in under a year, Canadian and USA National Champion Stallion, Champion in Scottsdale (USA), at the time the largest Arabian show in the world, and the Salon du Cheval in Paris. Not bad for an Aussie.

Greg:  Thinking about Simeon Sadik, what attributes do you think he contributed most to his offspring? What set him apart from other outstanding stallions?

Marion:  Simeon Sadik was a horse born ahead of his time. He was probably the most exotic in the face, jet black, and he had an elegance and fineness not seen at the time in Australia. Sadik was also an exceptional mover, covering ground in a light and airy manner. He carried his tail like a palm tree, and to my mind he looked like a French bronze by Mene or Barye.

     Simeon Sadik gave to his offspring his large, luminous eyes, beauty and terrific movement, and also wonderful black pigmented skin that is so lacking today. Simeon Sadik had exceptional beauty and charisma that set him apart from the horses of his time.

Greg:  Simeon Sadik's legacy continues through his offspring and their descendants, and his impact has been felt around the world. In your own breeding program, you have not hesitated to linebreed.  As you review Sadik's record as a sire in hindsight, do you think there were crosses or "nicks" that proved more successful for him? Did the linebred crosses "fix" the points for which you had aimed?

Marion:  Simeon Sadik's sire and dam were exceptionally good horses, and their pedigrees were very diverse. Asfour, his sire, carried in his pedigree such great Egyptian horses as Gazal, Hadban Enzahi, Maymoonah and Alaa El Din, and Galal carried the likes of Yosreia and the original stallion at the EAO, Galal. All giants of the breed. Therefore, sire over daughter or half-brother to half-sister could and did work well under those circumstances. Plus the fact that the individual animals in themselves were great individuals.
     One must be very wary of breeding just pedigree to pedigree without taking the horses into consideration. Linebreeding has given to the Simeon horses generations of horses that now have a certain look. Elegant with correct conformation, great movement and mostly beautiful animals.

Greg: Arguably, the sale of Simeon Sadik to Mr. and Mrs. Watts was wise as it allowed him to make a splash in the United Kingdom and Continental Europe, and I understand you retained breedings to him and took full advantage of them. Simeon Setavi was a result of one of those breedings, which allowed Sadik to play a role in your own breeding program even after he had gone to England.  Was it difficult to part with Sadik?  Especially because of the distance? Are there matings you wish you had made before or even after the Watts acquisition?

Marion: I knew that Simeon Sadik was special when he was born a little grey fluffy ball. And he also had four gorgeous full sisters.  The first was Simeon Salome, Australian Champion Mare.  Simeon Safire, Champion in Egypt. Another daughter was Champion in Saudi Arabia, and our lovely Simeon Saada, who has never been shown but has started her own breeding dynasty.  Therefore, I knew I could part with Sadik so long as I could use him and bring in new, diverse bloodlines - which I did to increase my genetic pool - by leasing outcross mares to breed to him.  One result was Simeon Setavi, whose son by Australian Champion Imperial Madaar is already an amazing producer.

     I liked Paul Atkinson, who was the judge at the time of the East Coast show and was working for the Watts Family in the United Kingdom at the time. After the show, he contacted the Watts', and said they must add Sadik to their breeding program. They came to see him, and the rest is history.
Simeon Sahron
2007, Grey stallion
(Imperial Madaar
- Simeon Setavi, by Simeon Sadik)
Greg: One of your stallions, Simeon Sahron, is the aforementioned Imperial Madaar son from Simeon Setavi, whose dam was the fabulous Nameeza. Where do you see this fine stallion taking the Simeon program in years to come?

Marion: Simeon Sahron is proving to be a superb sire giving to his progency big, black eyes, good height and length of neck and wonderful deep bodies. We are blessed.
Greg: Breeding a great stallion like Simeon Sadik is but a dream for most veteran breeders. For those who continue to make thoughtful crosses from the best breeding stock they can afford, what advice might you give?  What mistakes might you advise ambitious newcomers to avoid?

Marion: My advice to new breeders is to:

  • look at as many horses as possible and then decide the type of Arabian horse they like,
  • look at the pedigrees to try and learn what qualities come from which bloodlines, and
  • do not be taken in by well turned-out, trained and conditioned horses, as fat and muscle can hide a multitude of sins.
Colt by Simeon Sahron, out of Simeon Shatkin (a gorgeous black mare by Anaza Bay Shahh, out of Simeon Simona the fourth daughter of 27 Ibn Galal-5)
Do your homework first.

Author:  Greg Freeman; Published September 25, 2021.

Interview with Marion Richmond, Simeon Stud, New South Wales, Australia, via electronic mail, 2017 February 6.

The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of David Gillett, Director of Artist Management, Red Management,
Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia.

Slater, Pat.
"Simeon Stud, Australia: Marion Richmond's Quest for Perfection," Arabian Horse World Quarterly, Winter 2002.

Wich, Judith. "Halsdon Arabians: Home of Quality," Araber Journal, March 2000.
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     In addition to being a life-long horse lover, Greg Freeman is an author, editor, recording artist, songwriter and amateur visual artist, as well as an avid gardener and daffodil hybridist, judge and exhibitor. 
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