Continuing with memories from the British National Championships in this Centenary year for the Arab Horse Society, we feature our next British National Champion. The stallion featured here remains as popular today as he did at the time of his win.
Ffatal Attraction – by Mark Gamlin
I was asked a very difficult question – to nominate my favourite National Champion! I have so many that thrilled me and, at the time, they were all very special. With the quality of the horses we have in the UK, there is no easy winner of a National Championship class, however it may look from the outside.
I have had several special memories along the way: my first National Champion Stallion was with Pandoer, owned at the time by Nadia Howard-Price. That win was back in 1990 and my father was Reserve with Mr Aggad’s Hadeir. Then there is my home-bred Ffiction (Ffatal Attraction x Nouvelle), Junior National Champion in 1998. Other special memories are reserved for BB Balenca, Champion Mare in 2002 for Carole and Roy Ratcliffe, and the senior gelding Fferzan, owned by Louisa Biles.
But I would have to say – for sheer thrill, excitement and overwhelming joy – my favourite National Champion has to be Ffatal Attraction. It was a long journey – Delyth and I bought him when my dad and I visited Om El Arab in 1991. He was a nearly-black yearling and he took our eye. The fact that he was by Sanadik El Shaklan and out of Falling-in-Love (Kaiyoum x Khemosasi out of a Bey Abi daughter) was the icing on the cake.
We showed Ffatal with great success up to the age of three: he won at the Nationals, Towerlands, France; was second at Aachen and third at the World Championships. He then commenced stud duties and was very popular, with correct conformation, excellent limbs, an extreme head and an impressive, set-on neck, and a top line that was strong and level with a good hip and superb paces.
By then, 11 years had passed and he was 14 years old. He spent a short period of time in Sweden and produced National Champions in both junior sections.
In 2004, we decided it was time for one last show and a tilt at the biggest crown in the UK. It wasn’t actually until two weeks before the Nationals that we decided he was ready to show.
It was very hot on the day of his class and I had already been lucky enough to win the large junior stallion class with George Teague’s enigmatic Ffoenix, a son of Ffatal. The next class was the senior stallions – Ffatal’s class. Everything felt great. He had one look at the ring and seemed to say: “I’m back!”
The adrenaline was pumping now – there were some superb stallions in the class who all showed well. But it was Ffatal Attraction who came out on top – and presented me with a problem: who to take in the championship, Ffoenix or Ffatal. I am sure that at some point, I dropped to my knees!
It turned out to be father and son with father and son. Ffatal Attraction was crowned British National Champion with son Ffoenix in Reserve. What a day…it still makes me cry.
So to all the other National Champions who have meant the world to me, and their owners, let’s hope for one more day and for more new owners to be champions.
I have been lucky to have been supported by great parents and have had the privilege of showing lovely horses that make me look good – it is the horses themselves that are the stars, and long may it continue.
Good luck to all for the rest of 2005. Don’t forget – Malvern is the place where dreams are realised.
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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.