by Denise P. Hearst

Fanaticaa (*Al Raheb AA x Faleenah El Masr), and breeder Raymond Mazzei at home in Temecula, California.

He registered his first homebred Arabian in 1963, and of the more than 128 Arabians he has bred in the ensuing years, he’ll tell you which one is the best. “This one. Took my whole life. She had everything I wanted, and I did it with a straight, and that makes me kind of smile.”

At the Vegas World Cup last month, the three-year-old grey straight Egyptian filly bred by Raymond Mazzei, Fanaticaa, sired by *Al Raheb AA (*Laheeb IASB x The Vision HG) and out Faleenah El Masr (EAI Silvereen by Safeen x HAF Roufatta), was named Supreme Champion Junior Mare and earned the highest score for mares in the head and type categories. She was shown by David Boggs on behalf of Naif Fahad Abdullah Al Owaidah of Al Owaidah Arabian Stud.

We asked Raymond to walk us through the breeder’s thinking behind the creation of this filly.

“I switched to breeding Egyptian Arabians 12 years ago with the goal of breeding a straight Egyptian that could compete anywhere,” he says. “Yes, I bred the filly, but it was possible only because of the breeders who came before me.” 

In contemplating the challenge of breeding Egyptian Arabians, Raymond says, “To breed good straight Egyptians you must use whatever blood it takes. Don’t be bound by country of origin or personal philosophy. You have to be open, go forward, don’t live in the past. Acknowledge that you cannot be a breeder in one lifetime, therefore you must build on the past. And here’s another thing about great breeders: you won’t know them until they’re dead.

“Two things helped me: luck, and Poland — I believed in their ideas and drew on everything I learned from the Polish breeders in scores of trips there over the decades.

“The Polish breeders taught me: 1) Be objective and honest with yourself, 2) If it doesn’t work, throw it out, 3) Step out of what you’re doing, and 4) If you see something really great, try to get it.

“If you want to participate in breeding you have to keep an open mind and consider what worked for them and what didn’t. The Polish state studs stepped out of their box every so many generations. There were a lot of failures, but then, a superstar.

“And that idea really helped me.

“I spent a lot of time in Russia and Poland and I noticed that most of their horses that were successful had some Egyptian blood. So I started going around to see as many Egyptians as I could. I went to Israel and saw Laheeb and said, ‘I’ve got to get this horse.’” And Raymond did just that, bringing the horse here on lease for two seasons. He later urged the owner of the Laheeb son, *Al Raheb AA to send him to the U.S. He, too, stood at Raymond’s, and Raymond showed him to the Supreme Stallion Championship at the 2011 Egyptian Event. Today, he has three Al Raheb daughters. “Al Raheb is such a good horse,” he says. “He was here and nobody used him.

“You have to find new blood for every gene pool,” he continues. “So many breeders breed the same way, but I was concerned about different things. Like neck set. I started to collect Egyptians that were different.

“In Israel, I saw Safeen (*Ibn Safinez x Abitibi Madeena by *Imperial Madheen) blood working with some of the straights at Chen Kedar’s and at other farms. And then, in 2010, I was at the Egyptian Event in Kentucky and saw the Safeen granddaughter Faleenah El Masr in a class of ATH yearling fillies. I loved her. She was what I wanted. She was balanced, with good legs, well-placed eyes … there were things about her that were really good. She was maybe ninth in her class, but I didn’t care. She had all the parts, they just hadn’t come together yet, that’s all. It’s a horse show.

“I bought her that day. She had a great *Baha AA filly, and then this one, who is a superstar. The dam is great, but Fanaticaa looks like her sire. Fanaticaa has great legs, and she moves like an English horse. The angle in her chest, the ‘V’, the way she’s made … so many good things. And hers is a non-conventional pedigree.

“Very few horses are wonders,” Raymond adds. “A stallion or mare can pop up with something, like my mare did, but will she do anything else? I don’t know. Good exists. Great is one that can create that heart-stopper at least once.

“Fanaticaa is a once-in-a-lifetime filly. At least it happened once! I have never had or bred or seen one this complete. Maybe I’m near death and God wanted to give her to me before I die.”