Cover Story - Vol. 47, No.9 Issue #4
Cover Story: Royal Asad
by ANNE STRATTON
Even before you’ve seen Royal Asad, his pedigree stands out. “Unique” is what everyone who knows him calls it. Not only is it saturated with type and athleticism, but also it represents a welcome outcross for North American halter breeding that often is dominated by a few accomplished names.
That’s what was in Rodolfo Guzzo’s mind when he recommended that Royal Arabians’ Cindy McGown and Mark Davis purchase Royal Asad in Brazil just prior to the Brazilian Nationals. (The youngster promptly confirmed their faith by scoring unanimously as Brazilian National Champion Junior Colt.)
An important aspect of the group’s confidence is that the young stallion is exactly as his pedigree predicts. Through the first five generations, that heritage features extreme beauty, mixed with a few genuine performance lines tracing to the Varian program. What makes it useful and fresh now is that several members of the first three generations are Brazilian-bred, uncommon in North America at this time.
And RFI Maktub, the colt’s dam’s sire, died two years ago, so his blood is becoming rare—right at a time when his significance is increasingly being recognized. In 2016, his son RFI Farid sired the Gold, Silver and Bronze Champion Yearling Fillies at the Salon du Cheval and was named Best Sire at the show.
Royal Asad is by the DA Valentino son El Tino, and out of Lumiar Ethna, by RFI Maktub. Guzzo, who says that he had tried to buy that blood for years, was thoroughly familiar with both sides of the pedigree, and he explains why the combinations work so well. “His breeder [Michel Morelato] also bred his dam; he knew all his dam lines, and he used to do performance [so he knew what he was working with]. When he crossed to Maktub, the phenotype really put in a lot of type—big eyes, a fine muzzle. That’s what he wanted to do. Asad’s mother, who was a Brazilian and Chilean national champion, is one of the most beautiful Maktub daughters I ever saw. He got the face and all the type from his mom and the athleticism from El Tino. He moves, he trots, he’s beautiful.”
All of that is why, during a fall scouting trip to Brazil, when Dejair Souza approached Guzzo with news of a special colt, the trainer, Travis Rice and Royal’s Amanda Fraser took a look. “This wickedly awesome bay colt, with ginormous eyes, came around the corner with this attitude that just wasn’t stopping,” recalls Rice. “His tail was flagging and he had this elegant neck—it was one of those moments where you’re, like, ‘Wow, we can’t leave this country without this horse.’”
“You can’t find, really, the face he has, the eye he has, the neck he has,” Guzzo agrees. “It’s absolutely crazy. He is tall and athletic, with a long neck and a beautiful face.”
The plan now is for Royal Asad to compete at Las Vegas and begin a breeding career, with a limited number of breedings available on a select basis.
“In my opinion, the mark of any great sire is when his offspring produces,” Rice observes. “You can see that in this colt’s mother and in RFI Farid. Now everyone is crazy about RFI Maktub, but there are limited straws because he’s passed away.”
“I think what he can contribute to the breed will be amazing for the United States,” Guzzo says simply.
Rice gets more specific. “I think he will be a game-changer. He’s going to be a benchmark, setting a standard for what the Arabian breed will look like.”