BY SCOTT BENJAMIN
Since the earliest days of Mulawa Arabian Stud, the international standard of the Arabian horse, based firmly on the desert ideal, one that optimally combines the essential qualities of both beauty and utility, has been the guiding vision of the breeding programme. Given the fact that the vast majority of foundation bloodlines were acquired from overseas, of primarily Polish and Crabbet origin, later blended with Spanish, Egyptian and American influences, it was only inevitable that the Mulawa-bred horses would prove to be both appealing and competitive in the international marketplace.
Mulawa’s close connection with Lasma Arabians, the global industry leader from the early 60s through to the late 80s, resulted in a select few of the earliest Mulawa-bred horses as consignments to several of the high profile auctions that were hallmarks of Scottsdale week each February. Those to arrive first at Lasma were two daughters of Ambition (Bask x Bint Ambara), Mulawa’s first, and most important, chief sire bred by the Lacroix Family and purchased by both Gregs Farrell, Jr and Sr, in 1976. Both Accolade (x Kothra by Grojec) and Kabbaret (x Sharsea by Shahpoor) were out of imported dams from the UK, each tracing tail female to Mulawa’s most important desert source dam family, that of Rodania or.Ar. (1869).
On the heels of these early successes followed two very high profile exports to the USA: Mulawa Fantasia in 1983 and Mulawa Eunique in 1985. Sagaciously branded with the stud name, each were instrumental in raising the profile of Mulawa on the international stage, especially given their feature status in separate premier Lasma auctions. Fantasia had considerable appeal as Australia’s first Bask daughter, out of the Pure Polish US import Dzina (Buszmen x Dzisna by Naborr), while Eunique represented the best of her sire Ambition, combined with incomparability of the Janow Podlaskibred, German import Euni (Bandos x Eunice by Comet). Mulawa Eunique further represented the pinnacle of Mulawa breeding from its first decade, having just been named Australian National Champion Senior Mare at just three years of age in 1984, the first in a long line of Mulawa-bred mares to have since earned this most prestigious of continental honours.
Mulawa modelled its first Australian bloodstock sales after the successful auctions of Scottsdale fame, selling dozens of horses to fellow antipodean breeders in the 1980s. From Mulawa Sale II, the Farrell Family achieved its first direct overseas sale from Australian soil, selling a young On Eagles Wings (Arrival x Dzina) to the United States, furthering the acclaim of Ambition and Euni, Arrival’s sire and dam, respectively, as well as that of invaluable foundation mare Dzina in the global spotlight.
From these auspicious beginnings, sales of Mulawa-bred horses to overseas breeders slowed over the next two decades, reflecting the serious downturn in the global Arabian industry that began with the infamous crash of the American market in the late 1980s. The sluggish sales did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the Farrells, however, who used these decades to broaden the genetic palette of the breeding herd, consistently raising the quality of each successive generation with bloodlines introduced from all over the world. By the time the programme expanded in earnest late in the first decade of the new millennium with the incorporation of Alabama Stud in Australia’s Horse Capital near Scone, NSW, the excellence of each new foal crop had achieved world-class status, with several individuals clearly capable of excelling anywhere on the world stage. This confidence was put to the test in early 2011, when Mulawa returned to the familiar stomping grounds of Scottsdale, Arizona, the exact location where their initial export success had begun, with a homebred filly that represented an impressive seven generations of unique Mulawa-bred ancestors.
This special filly was Always Valentine MI, the first of Mulawa-bred DA Valentino foals to find fame overseas, who not only boasted the presence of the earliest foundation icons Ambition, Dzina and Euni in her pedigree, but that of chief sires Vision, Warranty and Fame Maker R, and traced directly tail female to one of the oldest and most profoundly successful dam lines imported directly to Australia from Crabbet Park, that of Dajania or.Ar. (1876) through the immortal Skowronek daughter Nasirieh (x Nisreen by Nureddin II). Following a unanimous win in the junior section of two year old fillies, Always Valentine MI found her way once again to the winner’s circle on Sunday morning as Scottsdale Classic Reserve Champion Junior Filly, a first for the Farrells at the granddaddy of all Arabian events, but most certainly not the last such honour achieved for a programme on the rise.
Always Valentine’s modest debut in 2011 set the stage for an incredibly successful decade for Mulawa-bred horses in North America, especially at Scottsdale, the world’s greatest competition for Arabian breeding horses. In the last nine years alone, Mulawa-bred horses have achieved ten class wins, three Scottsdale International Gold Championships – Impressa MI, Prussia MI and Vangelis MI, three Scottsdale Classic Reserve Championships – Always Valentine MI, Advantage MI and Kavalle MI, and one Scottsdale performance championship – Maxium MI, with just ten horses competing, a remarkable record for any Australian stud. Every one of these Scottsdale winners has gone on to further acclaim in North America, at the Arabian Breeders World Cup in Las Vegas, at both the United States and Canadian National Championships, at the US Arabian Open in Central Park, and in AHA Regional competition, bringing the grand total of accolades achieved by Mulawa-bred horses on the continent to a staggering 62 since 2011.
Always Valentine MI was also the first of the Mulawa-bred horses to be honoured at the United States National Championships, winning the title of US National Reserve Champion Two Year Old Filly in 2011. Her full sister, the glorious Valentino’s Angel MI, would be the first to claim the highest honours for Mulawa as US National Champion Three Year Old Filly in 2014, with both Kavalle MI, as a Three Year Old Stallion in 2014, and Impressa MI, as a Senior Mare in 2016 and a Two Year Old Filly in 2013, adding further US Reserve National Championships to the Mulawa record books. Both Valentino’s Angel MI and Impressa MI were crowned unanimous Canadian National Champion Senior Mares in 2014 and 2016, respectively, while the Canadian National Champion Two Year Old Filly title has been won by Mulawabred fillies twice: first by Impressa MI in 2013, and again by Madora MI in 2018.
With Mulawa-bred horses clearly back at the forefront in the world’s largest competitive arena of North America over the course of the last decade, several key exports to the Middle East/Arabian Gulf, the most expansive Arabian horse market on the planet, established a respectable reputation for Mulawa in an entirely new, and incredibly important, region of the world. The first of these to find new ownership in the ancient homeland was Klassic Harmony MI, a superlative product from the very first foal crop of her three-time Australian National Champion sire Klass (TS Al Malik x Karmaa by Kaborr), who was purchased by the largest breeder of Arabian horses in the world: Al Shaqab Stud of Qatar. This strategic sale sparked the interest of Klass daughters in Europe and the Arabian Gulf, with breeders and trainers both eager to discover emerging superstars of bloodlines other than those popular, and oftentimes oversaturated, in most major markets. This keen interest led to the sale of Klassical Dream MI in 2014 to Al Khalediah Stud, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, who was crowned Australian National Champion Senior Mare in their ownership, before embarking on a global tour on which Dream was awarded championship honours on an astounding five continents, including Gold Champion Senior Mare honours at the All Mediterranean and Arab Countries Championships in Menton, France. Two other multi-Australian National Gold Champion daughters of Klass are also now based in the Arabian Gulf: Klassical Presence MI and Klassical Devotion MI, both premier matrons amongst the world-class breeding herd of Al Zobair Stud, United Arab Emirates.
The trend initiated by the daughters of Klass in Europe and the Arabian Gulf was elevated by another Mulawabred sire, Allegiance MI, when his daughter Venice MI was purchased by Al Muawd Stud, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2017. On a ‘Golden Tour’ throughout the European and Gulf show scene in 2017–2018, Venice raised the standard for every Arabian filly in the world, outscoring the competition with astounding consistency, winning Gold at the Al Khalediah shows on both continents: the PSAIAHF title show in Saudi Arabia; and the AKEAHF ‘A’ show in Poland. Her final triumph as a Junior Filly was achieved in Aachen, Germany, at the All Nations Cup, the most important competition for breeding horses, outside of Scottsdale, in the world. Crowned All Nations Cup Gold Champion Junior Filly amongst a stellar line-up in late September 2018, Venice MI attained for Mulawa a life-long aspiration, reinforcing the Silver Yearling Colt Championship earned by Prussia MI and the Bronze Junior Filly Championship earned by Valentino’s Angel, both in 2013, as the ultimate breeding affirmation
The ascension of Allegiance MI as a sire on the global stage coincided with the fortunate return of Always Valentine MI to Australia, the same filly that initiated the reemergence of Mulawa as a significant source of international excellence just a decade earlier. This rare return from overseas, one that has bolstered the strength and scope of the Mulawa breeding programme monumentally, has occurred only one other time in recent years, with the return of her full brother Vangelis MI in early 2018 to assume chief sire duties, a decision compelled by the arrival of Always Valentine’s first filly in August 2016. This was the glorious A Vision MI, a twelfth-generation Mulawa-bred beauty that would raise the standard yet again for the Mulawa programme, completely dominating the show scene in Australia before finding fame overseas in the proud ownership of Al Bidayer Stud, United Arab Emirates. A Vision was most recently crowned Gold Champion Junior Filly at the Dubai International Championships for a delighted Sheikh Mohammad bin Saud Al Qasimi in a showstopping performance, raising her profile as one of the most universally admired fillies on the planet, as well as the profile of Mulawa as a consistent source of world-class quality Arabian horses.
Mulawa has also made significant progress exporting to China, a market of infinite potential, in recent years, selling several high-quality daughters of Klass, Allegiance MI, Magnum Forty Four and Guiliano to enthusiastic new breeders. Mr. Zengli Han is now the proud owner of three Australian National Gold Champions – MI Klassic Fantasy, Konquest MI and Truth MI – horses all destined to impact the aspiring Chinese market in profoundly positive ways. Further success in the Asian market has also increased dramatically in the new millennium in Thailand for Mulawabred horses, especially those skilled in the Olympic sport of endurance. Several high profile individuals have been flying the banner proudly on the international stage, including former Australian National Reserve Champion Konfidence MI, resident chief endurance sire at The Horses, as well as the highly accomplished Mulawa Angelus, one of Team Thailand’s most successful competitors in Europe and Southeast Asia.
With continued clarity of purpose to the Arabian ideal and an unwavering commitment to the equine industry both at home and abroad, Mulawa has created an indelible brand identity within the global marketplace, one that continues to reap positive rewards for the entire Australian community. We look forward to the next chapters of this ever evolving expansion of excellence on the world stage, as both the emerging and established superstars continue to challenge the boundaries of possibility, while their descendants inevitably transform the breed for the better in every corner of the globe.