Memories of the British Nationals: Dadia

Continuing with memories from the British National Championships in this Centenary year for the Arab Horse Society, we feature our next British National Champion. Many of the champions chosen excelled in the ridden classes, and the featured horse today was no exception.

7-45-15 Dadia Costume Ascot 82

Dadia – by Ann Brundall
My first visit to the British National Show was in the early 1970s and I have enjoyed going to the show intermittently ever since then. I have always loved the pure-bred ridden Arabian and, in 1976, I saw one that captivated me so much that it persuaded me to go and purchase my own Arabian horse.

Everything about this horse caught my attention. Although he was barely 14.1hh, he seemed to grow another inch as soon as he entered the show-ring. He had such presence and style and I loved the way he moved and carried his rider, the formidable Mrs Macmillan (Mrs Mac to her friends). Dadia had truly stolen my heart.

When I first saw him, Dadia (Darjeel x Arcadia by Argos) was six years old and was owned by Tony and Jenny Crosswell from Norfolk. Bred by Mrs Norton, Dadia had that wonderful Crabbet/Old English breeding which I admired – and still admire – so much. He was a classic, Crabbet-type horse, typical of the Darjeel line.

In 1976 at the National Show at Ascot, Dadia won his stallion class and went onto take the Supreme Ridden title. On hearing that he would be back at Ascot the following year, I returned and I have to say that 1977 was this horse’s year.

The latter-day equivalent of today’s wonderful PHA Silvern Risalm, Dadia took the ridden Arabian world by storm in 1977. As well as taking the Supreme Ridden British National title for the second year running – something rarely done in this modern age of showing – he also won the illustrious Winston Churchill Cup, a great achievement, and was ridden by Mrs Mac side-saddle in the Arab Horse Society Performance Horse Awards where he was the Arab high-point champion.


As well as being a great ridden horse, Dadia was also a super sire and his progeny continued to grace the show-ring as recently as 2004, when Tanya Betts took the open ridden class at the HoCoN show with her mare Damia (ex Silver Blue Sunlight). Damia was also part of the 2002 UK Crabbet Convention, where she represented the Irex family. Other Dadia progeny include: Prince Dadia (ex Mikela), who is still standing at stud; Ahmar-I-Sham (ex Dahmalieh by Silver Velvet); and Allal (ex Dancing Dream by Dargemet), whose best son, Wind War Dance, was exported. Dadia also nicked well with other breeds, producing the part-breds Desert Sadie and Tuddenham Pennie Royal among others.

Seeing Dadia’s brilliance in the show-ring at Ascot inspired me to start owning and breeding my own Arabians, albeit on a small scale. Every time I attend the National Show and watch the ridden classes, I always look for the next Dadia. Maybe he’ll be there this year?

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This post comes from a series we first ran in The Arabian Magazine in 2005. Called Malvern Calling, the series celebrated British National Champions from Malvern, Ascot and even Kempton Park, and different readers shared their favourite memory from the British Nationals. There is always something special about watching the moment a horse is crowned British National Champion, so please enjoy the memories that will be shared here over the coming month.

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