Queen sends best wishes to Libyan stud as ceasefire talks offer glimmer of hope

The Queen has sent her best wishes to Al Shaab Stud in Libya, scene last month of armed raids which resulted in the capture of more than 40 horses, including stallions and in-foal mares.

Among the stallions stolen in the first wave of attacks was 1998 Solario Stakes winner Raise A Grand, now 24. A.P. Indy's half-brother Eavesdropper was also among the stallions taken, while mares are in foaling season. 

A ray of hope that the horses could be recovered has come with talks between warring parties in Libya, though no deal on a lasting ceasefire was reached when discussions concluded in Geneva at the weekend. The UN has proposed a second round of negotiations for next week.

The talks aim to end fighting - which has calmed down in the past couple of weeks - between the UN-recognised government in Tripoli and eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar. 

"As both sides agreed to the need to continue the negotiations in order to reach a comprehensive ceasefire agreement, the UN has proposed February 18 as the date for a new round of talks," the UN said in a statement.

A communication to the Racing Post from the office of Dr Amad Eshaab, manager of Al Shaab Stud, near Tripoli, read: "Help might come by political pressure on Haftar's supporters, namely France, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to press Haftar to release the horses.

"Al-Kani's militia confessed responsibility for the kidnapping of 14 horses.

"The reason is unclear but there was news on social media, Facebook, that said horses will be transported to the city of Benghazi, and from there to an unknown destination.

"Until now, no organisation or association working to protect animals has accepted our request to intervene to release the horses."

The communication added: "There were contacts with the United Nations, but that did not produce any results. There is a response from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, who condemns this act.

"Unfortunately, five horses died of starvation and lack of water. This happened after giving a concentrated bovine feed.

"Sadness is still mixed with anger, those are the feelings of the Al Shaab staff."

A note from the office of the Queen's private secretary to Al Shaab Stud read: "We are most grateful to you for bringing these sad events to the Queen's attention. At this difficult time this message comes to you with Her Majesty's best wishes."

Dr Eshaab, a veterinarian, has built up the stud with horses and mares imported from Europe and Australasia in a bid to create a racing and breeding industry in Libya.

Note - The Australian bred sire Churchill Downs is among the stallions stolen in the early January raid - additional reporting ThoroughbredNEWS News Desk