“Equator, Emandoria, Pustynia Kahila, as well as Galerida that had not appeared in Paris, happily returned to Michałów on 27th November, together with the other horses and the Stud personnel”, is what we could read at the State Center for the Support of Agriculture (KOWR) website on 28th November. Indeed, the lease contracts expired for Equator and Emandoria with the final word of farewell from the Paris event host. But Pustynia Kahila and Galerida were supposed to stay abroad throughout the 2019 season. According to the plans concerning Pustynia Kahila, the horse was supposed to be shown under the Polish flag in the Middle East and in Europe thereafter. Her last appearance would have been the Paris show. She was supposed to return in foal to her maternal stud. The Privilege training center was the contract partner. At the same time, Galerida would have spent her time with her lessee on her mare duties, whereby the foal supposedly born in 2019, Michałów bred, would have become the lessee’s property on payment by the latter of an amount agreed by the parties (already this year, i.e. on spec). Having raised the foal, Galerida would have returned to Michałów in foal again.
All the costs of the Michałów horses’ stay abroad were borne by the contract partners, including the insurance costs (Pustynia Kahila’s insurance was paid by Raphael Curti). So, why were the contracts terminated? Apparently it was the result of a series of steps undertaken by Michałów, including the shocking demand for payment of €200,000 penalty for Emandoria’s pregnancy (the foal was supposed to be delivered in Poland and be the property of Michałów). Moreover, the new Michałów management reported the fact of signing the lease contracts via e-mail to the prosecutor’s office (as reported on Marek Szewczyk’s blog*). Another factor that allegedly contributed to the termination of the contracts was the skillfully elaborated smear campaign in the media, which had a further adverse effect on the relationships with contract parties. “The assets of the Michałów Horse Stud include four valuable Arab horses, i.e. the mares: Emandoria, Pustynia Kahila, Galerida, and the stallion Equator. They are all champions, getting top marks at shows. Recently, all of them were taken to a place in Belgium”, as reported by gazeta.pl website three weeks ago (14 Nov.). “In Marek Szewczyk’s opinion, the case is suspicious. – Unfortunately, the model of lease applied with certain mares can be interpreted as stealing from the studs. Emandoria can be an example of this procedure. She is a multi-champion, yet she was leased without charge, and the only gain for the stud is 50% of the potential cash wins at the shows, said the expert in an interview with Rzeczpospolita daily”.
There were more of such press reports, including but not limited to the following titles: ‘Who is stealing from the Michałów stud?’ (Newsweek, 14 Nov.).
A reply to these accusations was provided by Raphael Curti, representing the Privilege training center in Belgium where the above mentioned horses used to stay until recently, in an interview with polskiearaby.pl.
„After Paris I sent all the horses to Michałów”, he says. „Besides Equator, also Emandoria which finished the lease with Al Baydaa according to the plan; Galerida which still had the contract for next year but I decided to terminate it due to all this bad, negative energy (I think it was the best to finish in a healthy way, so we stopped this contract); Pustynia Kahila who was supposed to stay all the 2019 as well but, in the end of the day, as I explained to the Michałów director Mrs. Monika Słowik, we are not steeling anything and if the Michałów’s director asks me to send back Pustynia, of course we send her back. It doesn’t matter that we have a valid contract, we are respectful people, we are gentlemen, so if the actual owner of the horse asks us to send it back, we of course do it.”.
As the French trainer underlines, the win in Paris is memorable for him in many ways for many reasons – for the horse, for himself, for his team. „But especially in the context of what has been happening for the last years in Poland, I want to be straight of it. I have never taken one euro in all the deals, or there was no one embryo taken from any of those mares. I did business before with Marek Trela, who sent for example Pinga for training with me and no one ever said that the horse was “stolen”. I understand the context of the situation, but I am not a judge, I am not pro the old management or pro the new one, I stay neutral in all politics. I am a horse trainer, I love the horses and my clients love the horses too. Mr. Ahmed El Talawi from Al Baydaa who leased Emandoria and Galerida – he sent hundreds of thousands euro of prize money from the Emirates and there was no one embryo taken from those mares. And the most important is that after a discussion between Mr. Talawi and myself we decided not to show Emandoria in Menton or Aachen or the Europeans, but we showed her in Paris with Mariusz Liśkiewicz under the flag of Poland, out of respect for the mare, out of respect for the state studs, out of respect for Poland. I think it is a very important point to mention because I have heard all this negative talk from many people and I am shocked and I am hurt by all this. Me and my team worked with those horses with our hearts. So it’s not easy for us – we understand that people talk but at the same time they should know the facts before writing things. We have original contracts for all those horses, those contracts have been given to the new Michałów director Mrs. Monika Słowik. The people that mention all those things, they have actually no idea of what is the truth and what is not. I am happy, I have nothing to hide, everybody can come to my office and see those original contracts.”
Raphael Curti is openly surprised about the enormous change of standards followed by the media. „I showed the Janów horses in Janów for two years in a row and I was chosen Best Handler. Marek Trela sent Pinga with me and he was never asked to make a press release about that. And when Michałów sent Pustynia Kahila to me, there was a sudden outrage. I was Res. Aachen Champion, Res. European Champion, and the reality of our market today is that it works this way. I will make an analogy here. We can say that Poland produce „Ferraris”. Fifteen years ago or even ten years ago a mechanic could drive a Ferrari, no problem. Now you need a Sebastian Vettel or Lewis Hamilton to drive the Ferrari, and it’s nothing against the mechanics, it’s just the reality about how professional our world became. Besides, it’s all in the package. When Pustynia Kahila goes to Aachen from Privilege, she travels one hour, while the Polish horses coming from Poland need 24 hours of travel to get there. Pustynia, I wish to add, was in training for free, I did not charge one euro to the Polish state studs. They asked me a favor: can you show Pustynia Kahila? And I said yes, I will do that for Poland. Of course Pustynia is an amazing mare and it was an honor to show her. It was a win-win situation. But all those small details make the big picture. Again, I am thrilled that Equator won, the horse deserved it more than anybody else. I hope he breeds a lot of mares and he is a happy horse.”
Early termination of Galerida’s and Pustynia Kahila’s contracts certainly implies a financial loss for the Michałów stud. It should be noted here that several hundred thousand euro were earned by Michałów this year from the prizes won by Emandoria (for a mare at such a level as Emandoria, there can be no doubt about these prizes, unless she is injured and fails to appear), without any adverse effect for Polish breeding (no embryos retrieved). For comparison, let us quote the official terms of lease of the same mare to the Middle East in 2012: no lease charge, no owner’s revenues from prizes (whereby the lessee earned around €300k at that time, as estimated by Senator Jan Dobrzyński, Law and Justice party), two embryos for the lessee.
*16-11-2018: “I would like to inform the readers of my blog that Ms. Monika Słowik, acting director of Michałów Horse Stud, filed a notification of potential offense committed by Maciej Grzechnik, the dismissed director, to the prosecutor’s office. Two issues have been identified as requiring investigation by law enforcement authorities: ‘permission’ for non-payment for privately owned horses maintained by a State-owned company, and for drafting horse lease contracts post factum (following revocation), followed by presentation of these lease contracts with scanned signatures of foreign lessees.” (access: 4-12-2018)