What the Austrian show in Wels is to breeders from Poland, that to Middle Eastern owners is Menton of the French Riviera – a symbolic beginning of the European show season (21st-22nd of June). All the leading Middle Eastern studs make sure they are present at the Mediterranean and Arab Countries Arabian Horse Championship, treating this event as a prelude to the autumn title shows. It is here that we find out which horses they will place their bets on this season. We can also make an attempt at singling out the first favorites for the World Championships.
In Menton the three highest scored horses from each class qualified for the finals. There everyone began from scratch, because even a horse from third spot in class could become champion. Truth be told such a situation did not take place, but we did have two gold medalists from second spots in class: the mare Najdah Al Zobair and the stallion FA El Rasheem. The jury panel consisted of: Koenraad Detailleur (Belgium), Manfred Hain (Germany), Murillo Kammer (Brasil), Francesco Santoro (Italy), Renata Schibler (Switzerland) and representing Poland – Dr. Marek Trela.
The classes were very numerous, even 15 horses in each (183 registered contestants, 129 arrived) and with such high quality as here the tiniest detail counted, everything could help in claiming the victory. Therefore it was not just a rivalry between the horses, but also between the handlers, trying to squeeze the maximum out of their charges. The overall presentation proved important (kind words were spoken about the silver, sparkling suit of Tom Shoukens), as well as did nerves of steel – the DC members firmly restrained the over-activeness of the team staffs. The “old league” had no problems fitting in – Frank Spoenle, Paolo Capecci, Giacomo Capacci. The hardest
trial this year turned out to be movement – “20s” were a rare sight for this trait. The only horse that received a full set of top marks in this category was the experienced Marquis CAHR (Marwan Al Shaqab – Rohara Magnifica/Echo Magnifficoo) from Al Khalediah Stables, crowned on Sunday as Senior Champion Stallion. A full set of top marks, also for type, as well as head and neck (that’s as many as fifteen “20s”!) translated to his record score of 94,9 pts. The best movement among the mares belonged to the later silver medalist owned by Ajman Stud, Badawieh
AA (Labeeb – Bahiha/Baahir, 3×20 for trot, 5×20 for type and 3×20 for head and neck, 93,2 pts in total), bested in the finals by Najdah Al Zobair (Marwan Al Ashaqab – JFN Bint Ludhan/AB Magnum, 3×20 for type, 3×20 for head and neck, 93,4 in total). However it must be said that horses don’t have an easy time “moving” in Menton – for one, the arena is not too big and the footing is hard and two, it is usually extremely hot or stuffy. As one of Polish politicians would say: “Sorry, that’s the kind of climate we have”.
This year Polish breeding didn’t make itself seen on a larger scale (its only representatives, the Michałów-bred Piacenza, owned by Al Shahania Stud and the Janów-bred Etoryk, owned by Flaxman Arabians from Belgium, places sixth in the 4-7 year old mares’ and stallions’ classes, respectively, whereas the yearling Wilandra EA, bred by Michałów, also didn’t make it near the top of her class). The most successful horse with Polish roots was Equiborn KA, the winner of the 2 year old colts’ class and the later Junior Bronze Champion. The bred in Belgium (Knocke Arabians) son of QR Marc and Espadrilla by Monogramm, received 92,7 pts, including a “20” for type. His full sister, the yearling Estokada KA, was sixth in her class. Knocke Arabians also brought the stallion Espressivo (QR Marc – Emocja/Monogramm), who placed fourth in the 4-7 year old stallions class.
The greatest emotion were roused by the 3 year old colts’ class. When the horses entered the arena nearly the entire public got up on their feet to cheer on their favorites. It has to be said that the competition in this class was a killer – it was known that two of the favorites, the Qatari Sultan Al Zobara and the strongly promoted FA El Rasheem (FA El Shawan – Virtuosa MLR/Versace), owned by Dubai Stud, would go against a giant from across the pond, the showered in American successes son of Shanghai E.A. – Excalibur E.A., owned by Las Rosas Arabians from Uruguay. Also one to consider was the Saudi Ascott DD (Glorius Apal – Lady Nina
DD/Psytadel). And indeed, the competition was thrilling. Excalibur, the first to perform, set a high standard receiving 92,9 pts, including two “20s” for type. Yet horses from other continents, competing on European arenas for the first time, usually have a much harder task – not only do they just get acquainted with their trainers, but the judges get acquainted with them. Incidentally, that’s exactly what happened to the champion from Las Vegas, Pitonisa AS (Ever After NA – Psyches Amber Dream/Padrons Psyche), owned by Arabian Soul Partners, who placed fourth in the A series of the yearling fillies’ class. Excalibur E.A. was bested by FA El Rasheem, who with three “20s” for type and a full set of top marks for head and neck received a total score of 93,3. Ascott DD took home a total of 92,8 (including three “20s” for type and one “20” for head and
neck). But everyone had to yield before the final performer – Sultan Al Zobara (four “20s” for type and five “20s” for head and neck), evaluated at 94 pts. We can only assume that this son of Gazal Al Shaqab and Inra Al Shaqab by Wahaj Al Shaqab, currently in top condition, who in Menton grabbed the silver medal (behind the mentioned FA El Rasheem), will be one of the leading candidates for the World Championships and will surely add another medal to his gold from 2012. The duel between Qatar and Dubai was definitely one of the most interesting moments of the entire event.
Also interesting was the competition of the 4-7 year old stallions, which we had the opportunity to see after the Sunday lunch, right before the finals. Very numerous and of high quality (at least several world stars), this class was perhaps the one most awaited. The line up saw World Reserve Champion Shanghai E.A. (WH Justice – Salymah/Khidar), bred and owned by Equus Arabians, another representative of Al Shaqab – Amir Al Shaqab (Gazal Al Shaqab – Amira
Madrona/Parys El Jamaal), a son of Marquis CAHR – Fakhr Al Khalediah, the Belgian Espressivo and a slew of others known from European arenas. Victorious in this battle was Amir Al Shaqab, thanks to Giacomo Capacci, who put in his heart and soul during the stallion’s presentation. The Al Khalediah representative was second and Shanghai – awarded also with the Best Head trophy – third. And that was also the Spanish stallion’s podium position – he claimed the bronze medal, behind Amir Al Shaqab and Marquis CAHR, gathering the same number of points as the silver medalist.
In terms of get the most represented was – probably because of geographical reasons – Ajman Moniscione (20), also keeping strong was WH Justice (14), there were lots sons and daughters of Marwan Al Shaqab (9). And it was the latter that received a special award for best sire, due to Marquis CAHR (Senior Champion Stallion), Ghazwan Aljassimya (Yearling Champion Stallion), AJ Sawari (Yearling Champion Mare) and Najdah Al Zobair (Senior Champion Mare). The incredible genetic strength of this sire remains, for now, matchless.
Among the special awards one that always enjoys great prestige is the Trophée Espoir (Hope Trophy). This year it went to Mario Matt thanks to the great result of MM Esplendida (RFI Farid – MM Eluise/WH Justice), who placed second in the 2 year old fillies’ class (two “20s” for movement and a final score of 92,8). An excellent skier and Olympian, he is successful not only on the slopes. Beside Albert Sorroca of Spain (Equus Arabians) and Paul Gheysens of Belgium (Knocke Arabians), he was one of the very few breeders and owned from outside the Middle East that were visible in Menton.
In recapitulation the podium added up to the following: UAE – 8 medals, Qatar – 4 medals, Saudi Arabia – 3 medals, Oman – 1 medal, Belgium – 1 medal, Spain – 1 medal.