Racers

04.03.2019

Racers

Those aficionados of Purebred Arabian racing will no doubt be au fait with the assertion that

our Purebred Arabians have lost their classical looks. During the course of my reading, I stumbled across a statement made by Étienne Camentron, one of the biggest connoisseurs of the inter-war period, and a defining presence both as a breeder and an owner. He was also the writing authority of the time on matters pertaining to the breed and, in 1927, he wrote: "If we are to produce Purebred Arabians in France, we mustn’t solely be content to bring them into the world; we must concern ourselves, above all, by maintaining their ancestral qualities; and, in order to achieve this, we must use the means available to us, and namely training and racing, as a way of tapping into their energy and endurance levels so inherent in the Bedouin way of life (…) Regarding the evolution of the physique of the Purebred Arabian physique, (…) I’m simply of the opinion that nature should be allowed to take its course. You won’t prevent the Purebred Arabians born and bred on our watch, and reared in our fields, from becoming bigger (…), but, seeing that the increase in size is to our advantage, we shouldn’t hesitate to make the most of it. In the light of this contention, I’m of the opinion that my detractors aren’t really in a position to contradict my line of reasoning with their arguments; that is until such a time that they provide the proof that their standard looks ‘argument’, and which runs contrary to my assertions, conforms to the classical image of a breed whose lineage is pure and, one born and bred, in its traditional heartlands (…). The matter, to my mind, will go unresolved until such a time that those of differing viewpoints reach agreement; as on one of side of the divide you have those whose image of the breed conforms to the exotic descriptions underlined by the imagination of one scribe, and one in line with the elegant silhouettes outlined by an artist’s pencil (…); while, on the hand, there are those whose image of the breed has been shaped by individuals which have studied the breed, having spent time with the Bedouin tribes most reputed for their prowess when it comes to breeding them.  Alas, this controversy has given no signs of being resolved.". By way of a parting shot, Camentron rightly quotes Captain Upton whose take on the Purebred Arabians breed for which he had a passion was: "They are born to race!" Close to a century after this assertion was made, we are still weighing-up the importance and validity of this viewpoint.…