By Mary LaRue
Connections of Al Shaab Stud, the largest Thoroughbred breeder in Libya, were left reeling Jan. 5 in the wake of a ruthless attack by armed militia the day before.
The farm’s general manager and equine veterinarian, Dr. Amad Eshaab, took to Twitter on Sunday, announcing the stud had been looted and its horses, including six in-foal mares and six stallions, had been stolen.
“I am so sad and my heart is broken. … It is my life’s work, for my country and countrymen, I preserve the national heritage, and now this terrible assault. It is too cruel,” Eshaab’s post read.
The stud, which is located near Tripoli, was overtaken by armed militia from the city of Tarhuna, and, according to Eshaab, the intruders entered from the southern side of the city and looted everything from veterinary devices and equipment to furniture, generators, jars, and water pumps.
The attack came just hours after reports of an attack on a military academy in Tripoli.
According to Al Jazeera, Tripoli’s Government of National Accord has been facing an offensive launched in April by Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army, which is aligned with a rival government east of the country. Air strikes and shelling around Tripoli has increased in the past few weeks.
“Six o’clock yesterday an armed group came from the Tarhuna city, militia loyal to Haftar. They stole six in-foal (mares) that are about to give birth this January or February,” he told BloodHorse. “Then they entered the stallion (barn) and stole six stallions. They continued to steal from six in the evening until eight in the morning.
“They shot two horses (who) were wounded in the legs … no one could provide the ambulance to help the horse with euthanasia,” he said.
“We appeal to all humanitarian organizations and all horse organizations to save the horses of Libya.”
Al Shaab Stud is one of the largest stables in North Africa and has bred the top Thoroughbreds in Libya, where the farm was established in April 2000.
Eshaab said the other stallions were Australian-breds Churchill Downs, who placed in the AAMI Golden Slipper Stakes (G1); Brut Force, the top sire in Libya; and Backdraft; as well as Irish-bred Raise a Grand, a group 3 winner, and Metternich, a Pennsylvania-bred son of Seeking the Gold.
Eshaab, who was in charge of all aspects of care for the horses at Al Shaab Stud, was unable to work for nine months because of violence in the area. However, he is proud of the progress and national heritage the farm represented.
“It has contributed greatly to the advancement of the horse industry in Libya … contributed to the establishment of the Libyan Stud Book and contributed to the establishment of the Libyan Horse Racing Authority,” he said.
“For 25 years, I worked as a veterinarian, educating educators. It is sad to (see) this destruction and ruin. We ask God to compensate us.”
As the founder and chairman of the Libyan Horseman’s Association, Eshaab has worked for 10 years to organize and unite the societies to care for the industry in his country.
“I appeal to (the authorities in) the city of Tarhuna to intervene to release all stallions and mares. During the past hours, there is pressure from the Libyan breeders to return the horses immediately,” Eshaab said.
“Because of threats from Tarhuna militia, which led to my inability to work throughout the war on Tripoli, I am thinking seriously about seeking asylum in any country with my family.”
Mary LaRue – Assistant Digital Editor for BloodHorse – pedigrees, juveniles, maidens, and all things Thoroughbred. Military veteran. Proponent of self defense, Krav Maga.
Australian stallion stolen in Libya
By Carl Di Iorio
2006 Golden Slipper third placegetter Churchill Downs is one of 12 horses stolen at gunpoint from Al Shaab Stud in Libya on Sunday.
The general manager and veterinarian at Al Shaab, Dr. Amad Eshaab, announced the news through Twitter, declaring that six in-foal mates and six stallions had been taken away by armed militia.
Eshaab further explained to American-based website BloodHorse how the stud was raided.
“Six o’clock yesterday (Sunday) an armed group came from the Tarhuna city, militia loyal to Haftar. They stole six in-foal (mares) that are about to give birth this January or February,” Eshaab said.
“Then they entered the stallion (barn) and stole six stallions. They continued to steal from six in the evening until eight in the morning.
“They shot two horses (who) were wounded in the legs … no one could provide the ambulance to help the horse with euthanasia,” he added.
Churchill Downs registered his biggest win on the racetrack in the G2 Stutt Stakes (1600m) at The Valley in September 2006 in highly controversial circumstances when jockey Craig Williams successfully protested against Magic Albert on grounds of ‘intimidation’.
Churchill Downs is the sire of Australian stakes winners Gold Fields and Girl Guide and was exported to Libya in May 2012. Other stallions stolen from Al Ahaab Stud were Eavesdropper, Brut Force, Backdraft and Raise A Grand.
Libya has experienced civil war since 2014. The stud is located near Tripoli with military activity increasing between batting factions around Libya’s capital.
News of Al Shaab Stud being raided comes within weeks of four thoroughbred stallions being killed in Peru.
Boris Schwartzman, the owner of stud farm Haras Barlovento, has since signaled his intention to disperse the remaining horses on the property and close the 68-year-old business which won the Derby Nacional (the Peruvian Derby) on six occasions between 1963 and 1976.
Carl Di Iorio – Racing journalist