Our final look back at some of the British National Champions shared through The Arabian Magazine, and there was only one horse we could end with. As the show gets underway this year, there remains one horse often talked about – and it just had to be him to close this lovely series: the great stallion, Hanif.
Hanif – by Carolyn Kokta
The National Arab Show is epitomised for me by that great stallion, Hanif. I first saw him in 1975 at the National Show, then held at Peterborough Showground. He stood fourth in the senior stallions behind Al Malik, Banat* and Akhbar – oh, such memories of superb horses! But Hanif should have been first as far as he was concerned as he simply commanded the stage and “his” audience!
Although he was champion foal in 1962, he never became British National Champion despite winning many awards and his stock, notably the ethereal Haroun, certainly made their mark in British breeding and showing. Hanif was bred at the Crabbet Stud and was the last son in this country of the wonderful Silver Vanity out of Sirella, who was herself Supreme Champion. Hanif was already 13 years old that first year I saw him and I never forgot the sight of him rearing up in challenge to any usurpers!
In 1992, now aged 30 years, he made his almost customary appearance in the veteran stallion class at the National Show. This wonderful old gentleman had strutted into the arena taking the stage for his last time. Hanif did not win, although he had won the previous year; I often think it is such a shame to rank these wonderful older horses. It seems unfair somehow as they look so fabulous, often belying their age, and they represent the finest in British breeding over the years.
However, that day Hanif was called forward with his owner of many years, Geoffrey Plaister, to receive a special award. I was certainly in tears, as I’m sure so many others were. The spectators were on their feet and applauding as we celebrated with that wonderful, charismatic stallion.
To me, that moment summed up what our National Arab Show has been all about over the years. Hanif had always been there as long as I had owned Arabian horses. He was a product of the bloodlines that formed the baseline for the breed across the world. All the fashionable breeding that has sprung up since, often untried and untested, has not always brought improvements to the breed in my opinion. But here was a 30 year old white stallion with longevity, stamina, conformation and character that would stand up to any horse, any breed: a true ambassador.
What a wonderful occasion, how honoured I felt to have been there. I feel privileged, too, that I had first seen him that day 17 years before: Hanif was truly what the National Show is all about. I believe that such a memorable horse as Hanif has far greater impact on more people than the fleeting glory of a one show championship.
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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 – wishing all competitors at this year’s show the very best of luck.