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Joaquin de Santibañes

Interview with Joaquin de Santibañes by Mario Braga

Several weeks ago I contacted Joaquin de Santibañes and asked him to share with WLAH the beautiful love story built between the Santibañes family and their iconic Magnum Psyche in the making of Haras Mayed. While we are all still mourning the passing of this legendary stallion, it was an honor to interview Joaquin to whom I will be forever grateful for sharing with us such precious stories and information. I hope you all enjoy it reading this truly one of a kind testimonial.

#1 • While we still are processing the loss of one of the biggest icons of our breed, the legendary Magnum Psyche, and since his own story is inevitably intertwined with the very existence of the breeding program of Haras Mayed, tell us Joaquin about the time when you first heard of Magnum Psyche, how was the process of acquiring him and what it meant to you and your father Fernando to own him and, more than that, to allow him to reach his full potential in every possible way?

Joaquin:  Magnum’s loss in indeed will take some time to process, at least for those of us blessed to have been so close to him. Around 1992-1993 my father met David Boggs through Pole Levy at the Brazilian Nationals. Later that year he visited Haras Mayed where he liked a yearling son of Padrons Image name JJ Ibn Padron. 

ZT Sharello would also go together with ZT Sharuby, who we leased for the occasion. When it was decided that he would go to Scottsdale, we traveled together with Ignacio Lopez (our farm manager and handler) a month before the show. We mostly wanted to learn about training and conditioning and David opened the doors of Midwest to us. At this time David was having the Desert Heritage Sale together with Doug Leadley and Johnny Downing.

We had been looking for a stallion for some time, I remember visiting the breeders of Shateyna and Bey Teyna where we saw some their full brothers. We had also been at RA Aloha Arabians in Reno and I remember they had a beautiful liver Chestnut colt named Casino. There we met Terry Holmes, I must have been 10 years old but I remember it vividly. At the Desert Heritage Sale there were two of their stallions: RA Mahalo and Mishaah. They where both being schooled by Chiquinho Rego and the one we where offered to us was RA Mahalo. Upon my father question regarding any possible candidate for a stallion, both Ignacio and I told him the same.

Our favorite was a yearling chestnut Gil Valdez called Magnum. We noticed this was the only horse David would personally walk around the farm every single day. This detail is the one that caught Fernando’s attention the most. We had never seen him schooling but I did manage to see him in the crossties and he had a conformation unlike anything I had seen before, I remember just the size of his croup was unlike anything I had seen in Argentina. Just standing getting a bath he looked amazingly balanced and pretty.

Later that year David called Fernando and told him there was a chance to try to buy that colt he had asked about earlier. Some beautiful pictures of him were sent; this time in Minnesota while we got his Pedigree by FAX. Already having basic terms on the deal I traveled to Minnesota while on family holidays in the US for a final inspection. He looked unlike anything I had seen before. Fernando was waiting for me at the gate desperate for information. Money was wired ASAP.

Having Midwest taking care of him and his show carrier, all I would think about would be the breeding part. We wanted to make sure he had a chance to become a good sire.  We had his breedings at a price which breeders in the US could buy them. We would then tour the US and look at them. It was beautiful to see outstanding babies in farms with just 1 or 2 mares and a lot of knowledge.

For our breeding we decided to help him out with proven producers (at that time Bey Shah mares where doing incredibly well with many different bloodlines) and very athletic mares that needed further refinement. We would also make deals with the owners of very good mares to do partnerships. There is so much to say about all that was done in those times, I would never end.

#2 • Before Magnum Psyche you were already operating as a breeding farm. Tell us also how and when you and your father started breeding Arabian Horses. I know of one person that has always been very present in Haras Mayed’s history:  Polé Levy of Haras Capim Fino. Tell us also about how did his breeding philosophies influenced your breeding program in terms of horses purchased from him and the use of his stallions. If I am not mistaken you even stood his famous Cajun Prince HCF at stud for a while, correct? During Magnum’s reign you have also used some outcross stallions including Legacy of Gold and Faraa al Shaqab . Can you share with us how were the results with these and maybe other outcross stallions you have experimented?

Joaquin: We started out with a couple of straight Egyptians we bought at an auction in São Paulo, they where from Haras Morro Vermelho. Both were Abbas Pasha related horses. Some years latter we attended the dispersal sale of Fazenda Santa Gertrudes (Adelia & Nagib Audi), where we bought Padrons Image, Kathreena NA (the mother of Khadraj NA), Ledjeene NA and some others. Khatreena NA had Khalid NA as a foal at side; he is in most of our pedigrees now. After breeding with these horses we decided we wanted to start working on improving the angle of the shoulders and this is how we came to have Cajun Prince HCF sent to us by Pole Levy.

Pole was, so to speak ,our first formal education on conformation and breeding. We would spend days with many others at Haras Capim Fino talking about horses and most of all listening to Pole. Capim Fino was for us like an Arabian Horse University Campus. Pole was never interested in selling a horse, in fact any interest in his horses made him uncomfortable. All he wanted to do is share his knowledge on genetics, bloodlines, conformation and the history of Arabian horses. If I had to pick the best times they would be those years at Capim Fino.

We tried Legacy of Gold with limited success. We loved his son Legacy of Fame, owned by our best friend Gina Pelham, but we never got anything like him. We were quick to stop using him. On the other hand Faraa al Shaqab was a great success. Mohammed Al Sulaiti and Broderick Levens -at Al Shaqab-had some very interesting ideas about breeding, and they where backed up with tremendous knowledge about Faraas pedigree. They had some assumptions about his potential as a sire and amazingly they proved right. Our best breeding horses now come from that collaboration. JJ Aphar -our stallion- and our best broodmares are by sired by Faraa. We recently leased a Magnum daughter out of one of these Faraa daughters that might be our best horse yet.

We are also very happy with our experience crossing Dominic M with our Faraa mares. We have at least four fillies we will keep for breeding. Two of them also have Cajun Prince in their dam sides through Navia HCF.

#3 • The influence of Magnum Psyche as a sire reached a truly global scale like very few stallions at any time or place, before and after him. Moreover, like even fewer stallions, he was able to excel in the production of both outstanding males and females. Because of him, in great measure, the Padron sire line has become one of the most widely appreciated by breeders everywhere.  Several other horses were equally highly campaigned and marketed but very few of them have gone so far as Magnum. What in your opinion has set Magnum apart and led him to such an incredible level of fame and recognition?

Joaquin: My understanding of our own horses and how to breed with them is still rudimentary at best. Heritability in horses is still so hard to understand and I can only speak for our own experience in breeding with Magnum. In a few words, I believe that he was able to ad beauty and refinement without introducing new conformation flaws. If you think about it that, already, is a lot. This consistency as a sire is a great tool for any breeder. I believe this ability to be consistent in breeding was inherited by many mares and stallions sired by him and passed on.

Regarding his show carrier he was surrounded by the best professionals we could have wished for. David Boggs loved Magnum just as we did and he managed him with a level of competence and professionalism that amazed me. Magnums career was once in a lifetime, we could not ask for more from David and his team.

#4 • In regards to the males, his sons were able to build true dynasties of their own stamping the Magnum look but yet being able to add their own print as well, and to me there is no greater testimony to a producing stallion than that. And in every single continent I dare say (except for Asia perhaps). In Europe and Middle East with WH Justice and his sons and grandsons, in the U.S.A with Magnum Chall HVP, in Australia with Magnum 44, in South America with JJ Señor Magnum and AB Magnum, South Africa with Hasan’s Magnafire and the list goes on. Are there any favorites of the Magnum’s sons that made a name for them selves? Other than the ones you bred, was the blood of any of those stallions added by you and your father to your present breeding program or would have liked to add eventuallly?

We have great admiration for these stallions. I remember Magnum Chall in Brazil, also WH Justice winning as a yearling the Magnum Futurity we organized with David. Magnum 44 did wonders in Australia and I am a big fan of the breeding program he became a part of.  I remember Zichy Tyssen buying AB Magnum and how well he then did in Argentina.

I can’t really pick a favorite, neither we ever considered using a Magnum son other than JJ Señor Magnum. In recent history we have had Magnum related mares for many years now, we have always been in the lookout to open our bloodlines. One of the few exceptions is JJ Nayla (Faraa Al Shaqab x Navia HCF) who does not have any Magnum on her pedigree and did tremendously well with Magnum. I believe she could have done well with his sons as well. She is a producer on her own merit.

 #5 • In the female department it would take a whole book just to list all the championships that his daughters earned. Nevertheless for good orders sake I should name just some of these iconic World Champion, U.S, Canadian, Brazilian, Scottsdale champion mares: JJ La Estrella, JJ Apharina, Magdalinna, LC Kevlar, Shannaya di Magnum JM, HED Caramba, Amelia B and the granddaughters Panarea by Palawan, FM Gloriaa and Bezz’Faizah,. But most amazingly is their own capacity and value as top broodmares. Some of their own production includes:  U.S National Champions JJ La Condesa, Honey’s Delight RB and OFW Magic Wan as well as Brazilian multi National Champion FT Havanna el Keav. Please tell us more about the second generation of champions produced by Magnum’s children as well as the subsequent ones, including some of the most famous international champions in them.

I will always have a special place in my heart for Honey’s Delight RB. When starting a breeding collaboration plan with Adriana y Alessandra I was optimistic but never imagine JJ Señor Magnum would produce such a legend. This cross was very consistent, not only was Honey’s not the only super product of that cross but she went on to become an outstanding and consistent producer.  HED Caramba is also a mare close to my heart as she was another result of a breeding collaboration, this time with Diego Lerner of Haras el DOK.

HED Cajun Queen was imported by Diego in-utero from Brazil, and we all fell in love when she was born at El DOK. We could not wait to breed her to Magnum. Diego produced Caramba and when it was our turn we had JJ La Señorita, who is not only a dreamy show mare but went on to produce JJ La Condesa for us. Like you said the list is long but I can’t help but mention the ones I experienced first hand.

 I realize that a void like the one left by Magnum will be hard to fill and perhaps it will never be. But the show must go on. What are your plans for the future at Haras Mayed? Any new star in the horizon any new plans or new directions on the breeding program? How do you foresee the present time in our breeding industry and what would you wish for its future?

The void Magnum leaves is mostly affectionate. Breeding-wise we could continue to use his semen very selectively on mares not related to him. We continue to keep the strong foundation of balance and athletic ability and continue to further refine without sacrificing the form. Specific characteristics I currently value are small well-set ears, long and straight tailbones and always a good attitude.

That leaves very few options and we don’t have a clear candidate. One idea would be to find someone who would see value in testing a young stallion on our mares. When we started with Magnum other breeders helped us identify how to breed with him, today we could do this for someone else.

Mario Braga
Author: Mario Braga

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