From Hippologische Blaetter, April 4,
About 1815 or 1820, when Kurshid Pasha was governor of the Nejd [the
central and southern Arabian Peninsula], some Englishmen who had brought
Thoroughbreds out with them, proposed to race against the Arabs; this
was agreed, only the English asked for a delay of forty days in order to
get their horses in condition. The Arabs, whose racehorses are always
fit, did not know what they meant, but agreed to the delay, and the
meeting took place on the agreed day. The Arabs asked the English to
choose which horses were to race, and inquired how many days the race
was to last. Now it was the English who were astonished, and they
answered, "Our races only last an hour." Whereupon the Bedouin
burst out laughing, being of the opinion it was not worth the trouble of
training a horse for forty days and then only running for an hour. But
as the English explained, this was their custom at home, and after such
training they would beat the Arabs as they had beaten all other
The Bedouin laughed again; but when two animals enveloped in felt
from top to toe, led by two miserable creatures hardly recognizable as
men—the English grooms—appeared, they laughed even louder at the
long-legged gaunt creatures and thought they were being made fun of, and
it took all the persuasive powers of Kurshid Pasha, who was present, to
get them to run at all. While a skinny stable lad was mounting his
equally emaciated steed, a stocky Bedouin, lance in hand, swung into the
saddle of his normal-sized mount.
It was agreed to race for three hours, and at a given signal they
started. After the first half-hour the English were leading, but the
Nejdis soon caught up with them, at last passing them, so that the
English passed the post a long time after the Arabs. The English horses
were winded and stood stock still, while the Nejdis were still gay,
stamping the ground and challenging their opponents to a further match.
As for the Arab riders, they shrugged their shoulders over a horse that
is not fit to gallop on after only three hours.
Schiele, Erika, The Arab Horse in Europe. Borden Publishing
Company, Alhambra, CA. 1970. pp. 28-29.