The 2015 European Championships, which took place this past weekend in Verona (November 7-8th) on one hand brought Poland joy (two gold medals, for Adelita and Equator) and on the other disappointment (fourth places of Pustynia Kahila and Morion in the championships). Apart from that the Polish team can boast a bronze medal for the colt Paris and the titles of Top Five for El Larinera, Petula, Calateon, Emira, Euzona and Barok, as well as the afore mentioned Michałów graduates. Furthermore the Michałów-bred Norma (owned by Al Muawd Stud, Saudi Arabia) left Verona with a senior silver mare medal, while the sold to Saudi Arabia but still stabled in Poland Fuerte – a Top Five title.
As usual at prestigious shows such as this there were thrills galore: from tears of joy to moans of disappointment when favorites lost. We witnessed several surprises. Polish breeding, though the results from the Verona show ring were not always kind to us, again managed to exhibit its power. But other participants could also experience satisfaction when they defeated our equines. “Looking at the condition of Arabian horse breeding in other European countries”, wrote Anna Stojanowska in “Świat Koni” (9/2015) after the Polish Nationals, “one is under the impression that it is undergoing a deep crisis. The majority of national championships are a depressing picture of average quality horses”. And though the show in Verona, where the cream of the European crop was presented, proved that Polish contestants have worthy rivals in Europe, many of them performed under the banners of their Middle Eastern owners. However, as they remained registered in Europe, they could participate in the show.
Of course the show’s outcome is the resultant of the judges’ tastes (Nayla Hayek from Switzerland, Doug Dahman from the USA, Pierluigi Rota from Italy, Ferdinand Huemer from Austria, Ann Green from the UK, Basil Jadaan from Syria and Mark Ismer from Germany), who this time were greatly divided in their opinions. A separate matter is the visual setting – the stage design is always impressive in Verona and the monumental decorations from “Aida” once realized by Franco Zefirelli are an excellent background for the Arabians’ beauty. However a slightly better coordination of vision and sound would not have been a bad thing. Meanwhile during the finals the winner’s anthem was played usually during the decoration of the fifth placed horse.
The Polish representation was very numerous as always – 27 horses of the 113 present (plus 5 Polish bred horses of foreign ownership). The most Polish contestants performed in the B series of the yearling fillies class – six (of eight present). The standard was set high at the very beginning by a filly with the number 1 – Janów’s Adelita (Kahil Al Shaqab – Altamira/Ekstern), who won her class with a score of 456 pts (incl. a “20” for movement). It was an immediate shot of optimism for the Polish team and its fans. Section B in the youngest age group belonged completely to Poland, with Michałów’s El Larinera (Empire – El Emeera/Ekstern) in the lead (456,5). Among the yearling colts of the A series triumphed the favorite, AJ Azzam (AJ Mardan – Ysadora/Marwan Al Shaqab, 458), the gold medalist from Aachen. Right behind him placed the 2015 Polish National Junior Champion, Janów’s Paris (Kahil Al Shaqab – Palmeta/Ecaho, 455,5). In the B series of the yearling colts Fuerte (Shanghai EA – Frymuszka/Ekstern), bred by Jan Dobrzyński and owned by Samy Ben Saad (Saudi Arabia), did very well once again this year. With a score of 455 (incl. a “20” for movement) he placed second behind the French Wortex Kalliste (Shanghai EA – Mirwanah Kalliste/Marwan Al Shaqab, 459,5).
On Sunday, during the yearling championships, the Polish accents on the podium were Adelita (gold) and Paris (bronze). Adelita’s number 1 turned out to be prophetic. The yearling colts’ competition was won by the contestant from Ajman, whose ambition is apparently the Triple Crown. Breathing down his neck is the Belgian bred Luigi (Kanz Albidayer – Lolita/Om El Bahreyn), owned by Al Shahania Stud (Qatar), who managed to beat AJ Azzam in Aachen in class (although not in the finals) and who took third place in Verona behind Paris, besting him in the championships. The silver medal gives Luigi hope for revenge on AJ Azzam in Paris.
The two year old class saw as many as 12 fillies. These included only one Polish representative – but what a representative it was! Pustynia Kahila (Kahil Al Shaqab – Pustynna Malwa/Ekstern) from Michałów is after all the 2014 World Yearling Champion. That’s why her victory seemed obvious. Indeed, she won the class with a “20” for type and one more for movement (a total of 455,5). Second placed Nesj El Daikhima (Ajman Moniscione – Nesj El Khimala/Khidar), of Belgian breeding and owned by Al Shiraa Stables (454,5). The performing in this group Orla Turnia (Shanghai EA – Orlanka/Aslan), bred by StanRed Arabians and owned by Al Thumama Stud (Qatar), was sixth (446).
That’s why we felt rather calm about Pustynia Kahila in the finals. Therefore the disappointment among the Polish team and its fans was so huge when she was classified at just fourth position! Meanwhile her rival Nesj El Daikhima found herself on the podium with a silver medal. The manager of Al Shiraa Stables, Antonia Bautista, who achieved such a success already in her first year of working for the UAE stud, could not hide her tears of joy. The gold went to Penelope KA (QR Marc – Polonia/Ekstern), bred by Knocke Arabians and owned by Al Thumama Stud, who qualified for the finals from third spot in the 3 year old fillies class (the championships were open, meaning that every qualified horse could win). It was one of the greatest surprises of these finals! And so tears of joy were seen also on the face of the stud’s manager Hilke de Bruycker. The work of ambitious, young breeders and managers gave good results and the spectators could see for themselves how their dreams are coming true. The bronze went rather unexpectedly to the Spanish bred (Ganaderia Pedro Carriedo Cubillas) Cap Bianca (Shanghai EA – Arabians Blanca/Efren), owned by the Kuwaiti Al Khashab Arabians stud.
A similar disappointment, like in the junior mares finals, awaited us in the junior stallion championships. It seemed that the winner of the 2 year olds class, silver medalist from last year’s World Championships and gold medalist from the 2015 All Nations Cup, Michałów’s Morion (Kahil Al Shaqab – Mesalina/Ekstern, 463,5, incl. a “20” for type), would easily jump onto the podium. Meanwhile he also ended up fourth in the finals, bested by his rivals Gallardo J (Emerald J – Gomera J/Ekstern), bred by Jadem Arabians and owned by Ajman Stud (second behind Morion in class, with a score of 459,5, incl. a “20” type and a “20” for head and neck), the Italian Feuer Jade (Ajman Moniscione – Neva Bint Volga/Pamour) and the Belgian Equiborn KA (QR Marc – Espadrilla/Monogramm), bred and owned by Knocke Arabians. Let’s add that in Paris, as announced by Al Thumama Stud from Qatar, Morion will be performing under their Middle Eastern banner.
Among eleven mares aged 4-6 years as many as five travelled the long road to Verona from Poland. The class was won by Janów’s Euzona (Om El Bellissimo – Euzetia/Etogram), with a score of 460,5, incl. two “20s” for type and a “20” for head and neck. Also in the top five was her stablemate Potentilla (Ekstern – Panonia/Eukaliptus) at fourth spot, with a score of 458,5, incl. a “20” for type and two “20s” for movement, as well as Białka’s Perfinka (Esparto – Perfirka/Gazal Al Shaqab) at fifth place, with a score of 456 pts. One of the biggest surprises of the show was when the dead-cert favorite in the 7-9 year old mares class, World Champion FM Gloriaa (WH Justice – Psity of Angels/Psytadel), bred and owned by Mieke Sans (Belgium), evaluated at 463,5 pts (incl. three “20s” for type, three “20s” for head and neck), yielded to SA Minerva (Royal Colours – Cicilla/Borsalino K) from Italy. The Italian contestant was shown stunningly by Giacomo Capacci and despite her grey coat color became the “black horse” of this class, receiving 464,5 pts (incl. two “20s” for type and one more for head and neck). The classification of FM Gloriaa only at second caused a lot of emotional comments online. However in the finals the judges noticed her superiority and finally it was her that was decorated with the ribbon of gold champion. SA Minerva also took to the podium, with a bronze in the senior mares category, causing quite a sensation. The silver went to Norma (Gazal Al Shaqab – Nina/Monogramm), who earlier, with a score of 464,5 (incl. three “20s” for type and three “20s” for movement) won the class of mares aged 10 years old and above before her former stablemate from Michałów, Emira (Laheeb – Embra/Monogramm, 460,5, incl. a “20” for type, head and neck and movement each). Norma’s score turned out to be the highest mare result of the show.
The 4-6 year old stallions had their leader and it was none other than the statuesque Michałów bred Equator (QR Marc – Ekliptyka/Ekstern), 2014 World Bronze Champion. As expected, he won his class (with 470,5 pts – the show’s highest score – incl. four “20s” for type, a “20” for head and neck and four “20s” for movement) and later claimed the gold in great style, compensating the earlier disappointments for the Polish team. In the finals we also saw Psyche Keret (Khidar – Psyche Victoria/Ekstern, 459, incl. three “20s” for movement) from Chrcynno-Palace Stud, who placed behind Equator in class and before the Iranian-owned Espressivo (QR Marc – Emocja/Monogramm, 458) and Janów’s Barok (Om El Bellissimo – Baida/Balon, 456,5). The silver went to the winner of the 7-9 year old stallions class, Aja Justified (WH Justice – Aja Beneja/FS Bengali, 462, incl. two “20s” for type and one for head and neck) of British breeding and owned by Ronen Braver from Israel. The bronze was secured by Marjan Albidayer (Marajj – Pustynna Droga/Laheeb), bred by Albidayer Stud and owned by Marjan Sindicate. Marjan received the same amount of points as Aja Justified, but his rival bested him in terms of type.
Three medals and nine Top Five titles (including Fuerte) seems like a very good result, though it could’ve been even better. Polish horses were very well prepared and plenty of spectators would surely bet that their domination would be more visible. However in Verona Italian-stabled horses usually get their chance, as they are playing “at home”. Soon, in Paris, the Polish contestants will face an even harder competition, although this one here was not the easiest anyway.