Emotions after the classes had barely subsided, and it was time to sharpen the senses again for another exciting spectacle, which were the finals. At certain moments, and rightly so, they resembled a real fight, and the show ring, figuratively, was a boxing ring. And there was a lot to compete for, because the best horses won medals and titles of champions, and their owners also won substantial financial prizes and cars. Thus, they are also granted the right to set trends in world breeding.
On Saturday afternoon, breeders from around the globe, some physically in Qatar (there were over a thousand people in the VIP area at the same time), others following the live broadcast, awaited the medalists.
A charismatic announcer
It was a great pleasure to listen to the charismatic voice of Nabila Al Ali, a well-known speaker from Kuwait, during the following days of the festival. Nabila introduces the commentary of the show to a high level in a professional manner. For several years, she has been often invited by the organizers of shows from the Gulf countries and has gained considerable popularity here. Polskiearaby.com had the opportunity to talk to Nabila about her work and how she prepares to run the show. Anyone who has had the opportunity to hear her warm voice live, when she recites excerpts from the Quran between the horses’ performances, is always impressed. Nabila told us that she prepares such special commentaries in advance, and these are not only excerpts from the Quran, but also poems on topics related to the Arabian horse. Even though she recites in Arabic, here emotional charge, excellent diction and voice, which is never tiring, leave listeners in constant admiration. If you add to this the sophisticated environment in which the show takes place, you will find yourself at the level of exquisite elegance at its best in the world. The cultural tradition of the hosts is clearly emphasized everywhere.
Among the 26 judges invited to Katara, there were two judges from Poland, who had previously also judged the Arabian Peninsula Horse Show, Anna Stefaniuk and Alicja Poszepczyńska. While in the classes the judging panel consisted of 12 judges, in the championships this number increased to 18, judges, changing on rotation.
The hosts can certainly consider this year’s show successful, not only in terms of organization, but also in terms of the medals won. Qatari owners won 9 medals, including 5 gold. There was competition extremely fierce and took place mainly among the biggest players in the industry in recent years: Al Shaqab (Qatar), Aljassimya Farm (Qatar), Ajman Stud (United Arab Emirates) and of course Dubai Stud (United Arab Emirates). While Dubai Stud itself did not win the largest number of medals for itself as an exhibitor, its horses stood out significantly both in classes and in the finals.
Horses bred by Dubai Stud (not always owned by them) won a total of 5 medals. Nothing and no one can dim the brilliance of Dubai Stud’s huge breeding success at the moment. Successes with horses bred by this stud, born by mares also bred by this stud, are extremely important, they taste better than those obtained by purchased horses.
In the category of yearlings, both in the group of mares and stallions, there were no big surprises. In the fillies competition, the gold medal was awarded to the bay Shahalel Al Shaqab, who is by Na-mous Al Shahania (full brother of FA El Rasheem), out of Siwar Al Shaqab, gold medalist of the World Championships and the Menton show. The silver medal was won by Dubai Stud’s pupil – D Aserah (AJ Nofan – D Shihanah). Interestingly, during the auction held as part of the festival, the most expensive item sold was not a horse at all, but the right to collect an embryo from the mare D Shihanah, the dam of the silver medalist. It was auctioned by the Qatari stud for nearly 903,000 euros. The bronze was won by SF Nora (EKS Farajj – SF Gazalah), owned by Al Jassimya Farm from Qatar.
In the group of yearling colts there were two black medalists, which does not happen often. The medals were awarded as follows; gold for the Ajman Stud-bred silver medalist of the last World Championships – AJ Sayer (AJ Yas – Sama AM), silver for D Hayel (D Shakhat – D Jawaher), bred at Dubai Stud and purchased during the November auction at this stud, D Hayel (D Shakhat – D Jawaher), owned by Al Thamer Stud (Qatar). The bronze medal was awarded to the Saudi-bred (owned by Ajmal Stud) grey Sarab Ajmal (EKS Farajj – Meqbilat Athbah).
In the junior mares category, very strong, already titled rivals met in one ring. Most of them are well known to the judges and the audience from previous title shows. Medals were awarded as follows: D Beisan (D Seraj – Rah Rosalia), AJ Kayya (AJ Kafu – Aja Caprice) and D Najlah (D Seraj – Elle Flamenca). Each of these mares has won a medal either at the World Championships in Paris or the All Nations Cup in Aachen.
In the junior stallions championship anything could happen, it was neither an obvious nor predictable choice. In the end, the gold medal was won by the bay Lehon (FA El Rasheem – Aragia Vanilla), owned by Al Jassimya Farm, who presented himself perfectly that day. He is a gold medalist from Menton and a silver medalist from Paris. In a very good type, extremely dry, well moving, with a nice head set on a quite good neck, this time he was not defeated by the pupils of Dubai Stud – D Sharar (D Seraj – FT Shaella) and D Shahhar (Excalibur E.A. – D Shihanah) which the judges awarded silver and bronze. The choice of the gold medalist was not unanimous, the judges almost evenly divided their votes (Lehon and D Sharar) choosing the gold medalist. Lehon won by a small margin. At last year’s world championships in Paris, the order was reversed. Returning to Katara, the bronze medalist was D Shahhar (by Excalibur E.A.), another medal offspring of the mare D Shihanah (FA El Rasheem – D Shahla), whose embryo (the right to collect the embryo) was sold for the above-mentioned record amount at the auction a few days earlier. The senior mares final was one of the most exciting moments during the entire festival. Extremely high quality of the mares, as evidenced by the fact that among the mares qualified for the championships there were two Gold Medalists of the World Championships and other mares, each of them with the titles of international champions from significant shows. When they lined up side by side, in a standing position, mostly grey, looking like statues, you had the impression of participating in a unique show. The quality of the mares present there was impressive. Such competition attracts the attention of breeders and supporters of the Arabian breed from all over the world, and this is what the organizers wanted. It was a great pleasure to admire such celebrities as Mozn Albidayer, Noft Al Nayfat, Basandrasettimocielo and Malikat Al Moluk in one ring. In the end, the top three shared the medals, in that order.
An exceptionally important senior stallion championship
The senior stallion championship is an extremely important part of the show, and in the countries of the Middle East it evokes even greater emotions than at European shows, introducing an element of additional competition. Winning the senior stallion gold medal is important from a breeding point of view, and having a champion is related to an ambitious approach to breeding. It is speculated in the breeding community that Excalibur E.A. was recently purchased to Qatar for several million euros. During Katara he performed under the banner of Al Shaqab Stud. This Junior Gold Medalist of the World Championships deservedly, despite second place in his class, won the Gold Medal and the title of champion in the finals.
The silver medal was won by Sultan Al Zobara (Gazal Al Shaqab – Inra Al Shaqab), who counts the title of Gold Medalist of the World Yearling Championships (2012) among his greatest achievements. The titled veteran of the show rings, the milky grey Excalibur E.A., brilliantly led by Glenn Schoukens, shined in the championships, while the brown Sultan Al Zobara, after a brilliant performance in the 11-year-old and older stallions class with a score of 93.94, did not shine the same way the next day. The bronze medal was awarded to the stallion Amaar (RFI Farid – Adiya), owned by Al Dana Stud (Qatar).
When writing about gold, silver and bronze medals, it is worth emphasizing that, as befits Katara, they were actually made of real metal. So the gold medal had additionally beautifully framed rubies, silver sapphires, and bronze black onyx. Trophies and generous financial prizes complemented the three-day struggle of breeders and presenters.
The end of the event in the shadow of the unimaginable tragedy in Turkey and Syria
Thanking the hosts for a great show, excellent atmosphere, hospitality and kindness felt at every step, it is necessary to emphasize with great respect their reaction to the unimaginable catastrophe that took place in nearby Turkey and Syria. As part of solidarity with these countries, many buildings in the capital of Qatar were illuminated with the colors of the Turkish flag. In a short speech at the end of the show, the chairman of the organizing committee, Dr. Khaled Bin Ibrahim Al-Sulaiti, expressed on behalf of the Qatari government his willingness to help the brothers and sisters of Turkey and Syria. As a gesture of solidarity with the families of the victims of the earthquake, the organizers gave up the lavish closing ceremony of the show, which was extremely spectacular during the two previous editions of the festival.
And so the Katara Festival 2023 had come to an end, although we will probably meet again in the Doha later this year, at another significant show, which will certainly be the World Championships organized there for the first time in history.
Apart from financial prizes in age classes from 1st to 6th place in each class, prizes in the championships were as follows:
Gold Medal – 250.000 QAR (ca. 64.000 Euro)
Silver Medal – 150.000 QAR (ca. 38.000 Euro)
Bronze Medal – 100.000 QAR (ca. 25.000 Euro)
Gold Medal – 800.000 QAR (ca. 204.000 Euro)
Silver Medal – 430.000 QAR (ca. 110.000 Euro)
Bronze Medal – 250.000 QAR (ca. 64.000 Euro)
Gold Medal – 1.000.000 QAR (ca. 255.000 Euro)
Silver Medal – 600.000 QAR (ca. 153.000 Euro)
Bronze Medal – 300.000 QAR (ca. 76.000 Euro)