Memories of the British Nationals: Pilarka

Continuing with memories from the British National Championships in this Centenary year for the Arab Horse Society, we feature our next British National Champion. This post celebrates a great Polish mare.

Pilarka 1992 cropped

Pilarka – by Barry Shepherd
Many British National Champions have come and gone over the years, some to go on to become legends while others simply forgotten. However one particular British National Champion always stays in my mind and to this day, I can still recall her flying around the ring in spectacular style.

One of my first ever shows was at Oostende back in 1983 and I was mesmerised by the European Champion Mare that was given a standing ovation while she was garlanded and one instantly knew that you were watching a piece of history. Again crowned European Champion and laying claim to the World Championship title, this mare was offered for sale as lot 1 at the 1990 Polish Prestige Auction. Bidders from around the globe looked on in wonder as the hammer fell for $215,000 to the winning bidder, Paulo Gucci. Pilarka was on her way to conquer America. Shortly before the bankruptcy was announced at Millfields 1, two years later, Pilarka was flown back to Europe to Gucci’s Sussex-based stud.

Pilarka (Palas x Pierzga) was the embodiment of classical Arabian type, her beauty was unparalleled and she had timeless elegance. She was quite simply breathtaking. As a breeding mare, her daughter Pipi (by Banat), a Polish National Champion Mare, in turn produced World Champion Pilot* (by Fawor). Her great-granddaughter is another legend in the making, the perfect Pianissima (Gazal Al Shaqab x Pianosa).


Even the rarest of gems are put on display and in 1993 Pilarka’s farewell performance saw her again entrance her audience. To rapturous applause this ethereal 18-year-old mare floated into view and it was clear once again that Pilarka had lost none of her former brilliance.

Life is not always paved with gold and Pilarka found herself as part of the collection of horses to be offered at the Millfields dispersal sale four years later. She entered the arena with her usual serene charm and it was quite fitting that she should go to grace the peaceful rolling hills of Devon and claim her royal title as queen of Halsdon Arabians. On a sad winter day in December 2000, the Arabian horse world lost one of the greats, but her many admirers and followers from around the world still proclaim her excellence.

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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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1 Comment

  1. Rosemary Hoyle says:

    I’m loving this series – so many good memories

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