Summer’s last weekend (21st–23rd of September) graced Sielanka Farm near Warka with beautiful, sunny weather – a fine setting for the international competitions in endurance races together with the Polish Championships, which for the first time were carried out in three age categories: seniors, young riders and juniors.
The Polish Seniors’ Championships (over a distance of 130 km) and Young Riders’ Championships (over a distance of 90 km) belonged to contestants atop Arabian horses. In the seniors’ category won Sebastian Karaśkiewicz with the stallion Grant 1997 (Entyk – Greczynka), bred by Kurozwęki Stud, leading from start to finish. This horse-and-rider pair were the decisive heroes of this event. Apart from the gold medal, Grant won the Best Condition award from the Veterinary Committee and the trophy for the highest ranked Polish-bred Arabian horse in the Polish Seniors’ Championships, awarded by the president of the association, Izabella Pawelec-Zawadzka.
Second at the finish line was Beata Dzikowska atop the stallion Cyryl 1995 (Sinus – Cyrla), bred by Kurozwęki Stud and third Agata Karaśkiewicz (privately the wife of the gold medalist) atop the gelding Winograd 1999 (Druid – Wina), bred by Janów Podlaski Stud. Kamila Kart and Shanokk 1998 (Santhos – Sinjah), bred by Saleska Arabians (DE) came in fourth.
Present at the competition was Peter Reichmann, a German rider, who owns a stud and training stable in the Czech Republic, who told polskiearaby.pl:
„I’m very much impressed by Grant. He is a handsome stallion, with a balanced character. He presented himself very well at the vet checks, had the pulse go down quickly and moved without flaws. He caught my eye so much that if there had been such a possibility, I would consider his use in breeding. He is a fine example of a beautiful Arabian horse suitable for use under saddle.”
The gold medal in the Young Riders’ category belonged to Milena Kalata atop the gelding Euroland 1997 (Ecaho – Eunona), bred by Michałów Stud, the silver was taken home by Anna Tarnowska atop Bader 1998 (Ararat – Barkarola), bred by Janów Podlaski Stud and the bronze went to Natalia Wierzbicka and Melik El Nil 1999 (El Amor – Mereżka), bred by H. Opolska-Igańska.
The juniors fought for the coveted medals over a distance of 70 km. First at the finish line was Agnieszka Zieńko atop Mocar (małopolska breed), second – Maja Kijewska atop Koral (małopolska breed) and third – Maciej Kosicki with the Arabian Amper 1998 (Batyskaf – Arika), bred by Białka Stud.
In the longest CEI 3* event over a distance of 160 km only foreign horse-and-rider pairs took part. Among the six participating pairs only three completed the entire course. The fastest was Peter Jadlovsky, representing the Czech Republic, atop the 15-year-old mare Sumika. This competition was not of a high standard, the contestants fought only against the kilometers and the clock, there was no battle for the positions. Each lap was completed at a slower and slower tempo, which does not say anything good about the condition of the horses and proper allocation of their strength.
In the regional competitions, over a distance of 59 km Arabian horses also took part. The 7-year-old Czech Amanda S, boasting a French-Russian pedigree, under Tereza Kopecka, came out the winner. In three weeks’ time this mare will enter the 120 km race at the CEI in Topolcanky (Slovakia) to qualify for the European Young Riders’ Championships in 2008. At Warka she was to cover 130 km, but her owners did not manage to get her FEI passport done in time, so she was entered into a shorter race for training purposes. Second came the Polish pair Maciej Kacprzyk – Pisarka 2002 (Pesal – Pytia), bred by A. Wójtowicz and third – Olga Ciesielska – Ferid 2002 (Borysław – Formuła), bred by N. Nowakowska.
This year the Polish Equestrian Federation decided to lower the difficulty and shortened the distances at the Polish Championships. Up until now the races were carried out over 160 km (seniors) and 120 km (young riders together with the juniors), which were the same distances as those at the World or European Championships in the respective categories. This intervention was to increase the number of entries on the start line, which was rather poor over the last couple of years. And so in the Seniors’ Championship 10 pairs took part (8 completed the course), in the Young Riders’ Championships were 6 (5 completed), while in the Juniors’ – 4 (all completed). These are still not impressive numbers, and the quantity definitely did not improve the quality. To be honest only the Seniors’ category stood at a decent level. Carrying out the Championships over a distance of 90 or 70 km is purely a means of handing out the medals and squandering the titles. Decreasing the requirements is not the best way of increasing the level.
Unfortunately with each year (and this being the third Championships in Warka in a row) the organization equals the sport level of the races. Sielanka is a facility with splendid infrastructure ready to take on large competitions of international rank. However a superb hotel for the judges and veterinary officers, as well as a Saturday party gala is not enough. Endurance races require a good course and the one this year was simply scandalous – the contestants cursed circling the facility on a 4 km long loop, which they had to tackle n-teen (!) times. A usual problem is the color of the competition shirts – the same for seniors, young riders and juniors, which confuses everyone to the point that they do not know who is racing with whom. The information about the competitions was also poor – a quick preparation of the results is still a tough task for our judges.
The big picture of Polish endurance races in Warka did not prove very reassuring, but luckily in all the chaos and amateurism a couple positive features could be seen. First of all we must mention the professional preparation of most horses and good results in the Seniors’ Championships. Two of them, Grant and Cyryl, fought a very even battle. These Polish bred stallions show the meaning of the less and less up-to-date phrase “brave and beautiful”. It is worth to mention that both of these stallions are the results of breeding ideas of the director of Kurozwęki Stud, Władysław Guziuk, who after many years got to confirm his concepts. Today most of the Kurozwęki lines are maintained at Agricola Farm.
More photos from Warka in the endurance gallery: