Memories of the British Nationals: El Shaklan

This year sees the Arab Horse Society celebrate its Centenary. With this in mind – and the coming British National Championships to be held at Malvern on 26-28 July – I thought it would be timely to share 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.

El Shaklan – by Jane Kadri

El Shaklan Trotting Ascot

Many of my memories of British National Shows are not actually to do with the horses but with people and happenings. 1977 was my first visit to the British National Show held at Ascot, where it was held for many years.

Ascot Paddocks, where the rings were, was at the bottom of a steep hill down from the entrance gate, with the railway line running alongside and with huge mature shady trees around the ring. The atmosphere on the showground was electric and the stands were packed from early morning for all three days of the show. There was no sponsor’s tent, just a few caravans and small tents behind the seating stand, and only a very few trade stands; people had a picnic out of the back of their cars as the food sellers were few and far between but it made for a very friendly atmosphere.

The one horse that took my breath away at that first show I attended – and one I will never forget – was El Shaklan. He was bred by Om El Arab and was born in August 1975 in Germany; he was by Shaker El Masri and out of Estopa, of Egyptian and Spanish bloodlines. Pat and Joanna Maxwell spotted him as a yearling at a show and, though they initially tried to buy him, he was finally leased to them for the two years 1977 and 1978.

El Shaklan was so very different looking from the majority of horses in the UK at the time: a grey with little white, a beautiful head, a superb level topline, and a strong back – he just blew me away.

The Maxwell’s vision when they leased El Shaklan proved to be correct as he went on to be Champion in Belgium and Germany, European Champion Stallion, Reserve World Champion Stallion in Paris and US and Canadian Top Ten stallion. He sired a total of 894 foals and his last owner still has semen available so we will probably see more foals by him. From the data sources, when he was in England he had three foals in 1978 (Silver Glint, Simeon Saar and Mamlouk) and 17 in 1979 (Azala, Amir El Shaklan, Bint Kamielle, Crysilla, Dhruv, El Daklan, Indian Spring, Izmir, Khamala, Khaziya, Maamoun, Maleik El Kheil, Murichio, Sahfiya, Sayada, Shakana, Shanfara); many were exported. There is no doubt that El Shaklan is one of the most significant horses of the past 100 years.

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