A long tradition
In 2007 we will be celebrating 80 years of Arabian racing in Poland. Since 1927 every year’s crop was put under racing trial at the tracks in Lvov, as well as Przemyśl and Piotrków. Between the years 1932–1939 Arabian horses raced in Lublin, but the major races were still conducted in Lvov. After the end of the war, racing was resumed in 1946 at the Warsaw Służewiec Racecourse. Between 1953–1957 racing trials for Arabian horses were conducted in Wrocław. In 1958 Arabians returned to Warsaw for good, where they race without any further discontinuity until today.
A tough 2006 season
However the preparation towards the 2006 season brought many doubts as to the future of racing for both the Arabian and Thoroughbred breeds in Poland. The 2006 season, born in painful labor, dealing with newer and newer obstacles, finally commenced on the 17th of August, but the uncertainty remains whether history won’t repeat
itself in the upcoming season. Unfortunately, Poland is the only country, where racing does not bring a profit. This has been caused by the ever decreasing turnover in the tote, the growing debt of the Służewiec Racetrack Company (STWK), a lack of both investor and promotion and problems with the organizer. After the withdrawal of “Totalizator Sportowy” at the last minute, the duty of organizing the races in 2006 was taken up Łąck Stallion Depot. The Ministry of Agriculture assigned almost 700,000 PLN for prizes for the Arabian races. The season, delayed by nearly 4 months, was prolonged by 3 additional days and ended on the 10th of December. It consisted of 34 racing days, during which 110 races for Arabian horses were held. This compact version of the racing season was able to include almost all the Stakes races. Only the Kabaret, Amurath and Bask Stakes were not held. A huge drawback was the lack of the International Arabian Racing Day, which is not only a vivid and just as much exciting part of the Arabian Horse Days Gala as the National Show or Pride of Poland Sale – it is also, or perhaps foremost a way of promoting Polish racers, whose abilities can be witnessed by the foreign visitors personally on that day. Apart from that, it is also a chance for foreign breeders, who keep their horses in training in Poland, to see their pupils in action. Due to the delay in commencing the season, the international races – Białka Stakes and Europa Cup – were held in autumn scenery, this time without the participation of guests from abroad.
Private breeders rule!
We can boldly say that the 2006 season was dominated by private- and foreign-bred horses. They won the majority of the races and triumphed in almost all Stake races. The honor of the State Studs was defended only by Janów’s 3-year-old Zakus from the premier, most numerous crop by Gazal Al Shaqab, winning at the end of the season in the Piechur Stakes. Among the 24 representatives of the 5-year-old and older horses (41 in the previous year) the brightest star was once again Wienerva (DE) (Santhos – Wierna Rzeka) bred by Michaela Weidner and trained by her owner, Jan Głowacki. She began the season with easy wins in the Michałów (Ofir) and Kurozwęki Stakes. Unfortunately, similar to last year, she did not manage to win the Europa Cup, where she was bested by the German gelding Amor Amor. She concluded the season disappointing her fans a bit with a 3rd place in the Criterium Stakes, losing to the winner (3yo Orgia Fata) and runner-up (Amor Amor) by 8,5 lengths. Among the colts the best seems to be Elkar z Reguła (Gamin de Carrere – Elvia), bred and trained by Mrs. Anna Nieora-Tchkuaseli. After a fantastic 2005 season the colt began his starts with a win in the Comet Stakes, where he bested (among others) the chief 4-year-olds, including the future Derby winner Eliat. His next (and final) start was a 3rd place in the Figaro Stakes, where he had to give way to Amor Amor and top-form-boasting Zafir. An injury prevented him from further starts.
The already mentioned Zafir (Złotogłów – Zorza, bred by A. Morczek) also belonged to the cream of the crop of 2006. After winning a second group race he placed 2nd in the Figaro Stakes and 3rd in the Kurozwęki Stakes. He ended the season with a successful start in the Europa Cup, where after an effective finish over the last meters he took 3rd place. Unfortunately, this brave 7-year-old suffered a fatal injury in November and had to be put down.
The 4-year-old trials were sure to be filled with excitement. However two promising colts did not make it to the start line: Sabat (Wojsław – Sarmacja, bred by Janów Podlaski), winner of the Sambor Stakes and 2nd in the Criterium Stakes and Ghazallah (Ganges – Ghaza, bred by P. Frejlich), winner of the Europejczyk Stakes. Last year’s best 3yo – Amor Amor (Nougatin – Aurore, bred by M. zu Fürstenberg) – did not fail his fans and lived up to being the best 4yo this year. Unfortunately, he could not take part in the Arabian Produce (Janów Podlaski) Stakes and the Derby, which are still closed for foreign-bred horses. Before the season commenced at the Warsaw track, he placed 4th in Cologne in the Al Maktoum Preis von Europa. His next starts were an easy win in the Figaro Stakes and 2nd place to Wienerva in the Kurozwęki Stakes. His revenge to the filly came in the Europa Cup. In the Criterium Stakes he was attacked by Orgia Fata (bearing 7kg less), who easily took away his victory.
Second, according to the amount of prize money won, was the pupil of Tarus Arabians – Eliat (Eldon – Eleuzyna), who’s victory in the Derby caused a lot of controversy. Prior to that he had 3 starts: a successful performance in Sopot (winning a first group race), a 6th place in the Comet Stakes and a solid 3rd position in the Arabian Produce (Janów Podlaski) Stakes. After the Derby he came 4th in the Europa Cup, however his next start in the Criterium Stakes was a complete failure, where he led for over the first half of the race, began to weaken at the beginning of the final straight and as a result took 8th (last) place.
Gonges z Reguła (Ganges – Gordaia, bred by Anna Nieora-Tchkuaseli), winner of last year’s Piechur Stakes, half-brother to the Derby winner Gorec, had sights on being a good racehorse. In his first start (Michałów Stakes) he did not stand his own pace and was overtaken by Wienerva and Warbin. His next start, the Arabian Produce (Janów Podlaski) Stakes, where he freely took care of 11 of his 4-year-old rivals, placed him among the main contenders for the blue Derby ribbon. Unfortunately, similar to his stable mate Elkar z Reguła, an injury eliminated him from further competition.
The quality of the fillies, as each year, was very much disturbing. Out of the modest amount of 16 fillies from the 2002 crop, 14 (!!!) concluded the season without a win. The remaining two were exceptional racers, belonging to the lead of their age group. The first one is Avilia z Reguła (Wiliam – Aviacia, bred by Anna Nieora-Tchkuaseli), who won in all her 3 starts, including the Sabellina Stakes and the Oaks. Apparently combining Russian mares with Polish racing champions is a proven patent for breeding a very good horse. The second filly is Zbójna Góra (Egon – Zasługa), who trained by her breeder Adam Wyrzyk won two races, including the Wielki Szlem Stakes over a distance of 3000m and placed 2nd in the Oaks Stakes. This filly is undoubtedly the best get of the late sire Egon.
One lone star shone among the 3-year-olds – granddaughter of the legendary Orgia: Orgia Fata (US) (Chndaka – HF Olympia), bred by Longin Błachut. This courageous filly, trained by Dorota Kałuba, won 4 races out of 6 starts, including the Białka and Criterium Stakes, which gave her the title of best racehorse. The filly boasts an impressive pedigree. Her dam won the US Oaks, while her granddam Orgia and grandgranddam Orla triumphed in the Oaks, Derby and Criterium Stakes among others. She will definitely be the main contender to the classic races in the 2007 season.
Also deserving a mention are two German colts bred by duchess Milana zu Fürstenberg – XXX (Triple X) (Marwan I – Tralala II) and Ypselon (Drakon – Phaija), both trained by Krzysztof Zawiliński. The former triumphed in the Próbna Prize and Koheilan I Stakes, finished second behind Orgia Fata in the Białka Stakes and placed 4th in the Europejczyk Stakes. Whereas the latter, after his debut in Sopot (2nd place), had 3 wins, including one in the Sambor Stakes.
A good performance was given by their female stablemate (from the same breeder) Pauline (Marwan I – Primavera). The filly noted 3 starts in this season – 2 wins and one 2nd place by a nose in the Sasanka Stakes. Not a bad horse is Zejman bred by Zbigniew Górski. The son of the brave Ataman (46 starts, 7 wins) out of the feeble and track-nervous Zanja, won 3 races (including the Europejczyk Stakes) and set a track record at the Wrocław racetrack over a distance of 2000m (2’16”). His next starts were a 6th place in the Białka Stakes and 3rd in the Sambor Stakes. The only Stake win for the State Studs was achieved by Janów-bred Zakus (Gazal Al Shaqab – Zamiana), who clearly progressed from start to start and ended the season with 3 wins, including the Piechur Stakes.
A promising racehorse seems to be Essential (Arzgir – Esna), bred by Nordental Arabians. Trained by Andrzej Wójtowicz, he won two races and was always placed in Stake races (3rd – Europejczyk & Białka Stakes, 4th – Sambor & Piechur Stakes). The colt set a track record at the Partynice Racecourse over a distance of 1700m – 1’55”. Among the fillies two Stake winners deserve a mention. The first is Pasima (Ecaho – Parafraza, bred by B. Kobus), who won by the Sasanka Stakes by a head, after executing an effective finish down the final straight. Although the filly is a half-sister to Derby winner Padus and the granddaughter of Pepton and Arbil – sires, who prove useful in every racing pedigree – no one predicted her win and placed a bet on her!
Zarina (Ostragon – Zgadula) trained by Dorota Kałuba won all her first 3 starts (in Sopot and Wrocław), including Lesieniec Stud Stakes. Her performance in the Sambor Stakes was less successful, where she kept running out over half of the distance and finished the race last. The next start of the daughter of the Derby winner Ostragon was the Criterium Stakes, where she was positioned last (7th) through the entire race and managed 5th place over the final meters.
Since 2003 races for Arabian horses are also held in Wrocław, where the expenses of training and organizing the races are born by the city. Mainly 3-year-olds race there. Last year saw 45 races, including one for 4-year-olds and older horses. Here the majority of the races were also won by private-bred horses. Due to the uncertain situation of the Warsaw track, Wrocław, who started its season in May, drew many horses from outside the city. An alternative to the Służewiec racetrack was also racing abroad. Our horses tried their best (with various results) in Austria and Italy. Winners at the Ebreichsdorf included: Białka’s Arbiter and private-breds Adwokat and Warbin.
It is necessary to note the domination of the private-bred horses at the races, which began to evolve strongly in the mid-90s. In 1991 only 1% among Polish Arabians in training were horses belonging to the private breeders. In 1996 this figure rose to 12,7% and in 2001 private bred horses constituted for 29,5% of the field. Last season private-bred horses dominated over the State Stud horses (54,9%) and one can presume that in the years to come this percent will rise even more.
|year||State Stud horses||private horses (%)|
Practice makes perfect
The successes of the young breeders encouraged others to try their horses at the track. New racing training facilities began to grow (Bełżyce, Głowacki Arabians, Falborek Arabians, Rosłońce), which quickly became a competition for the Warsaw-based trainers. Private-bred horses triumphed numerous times in the major races: 5 times in the Derby (Dekor, Gwaro, Gafal, Gorec, Eliat), 6 times in the Oaks (Farah-Buffi, Emanuela, Eumura, Mamba, Wiatka, Avilia z Reguła) and 3 times in the Białka Stakes (Abisynia, Gwaro, Orgia Fata). Gorec won the Europa Cup twice, and Orgia Fata triumphed in 2006 in the Criterium Stakes. Many private breeders see racing as the future for their small studs. News on the clearance sales of horses from private studs due to the uncertain situation of racing in the middle of the year did not come as a surprise. And although the fundamental selection criterion for pure-bred Arabian horses is their beauty and winning the championships their duty, the racing trials still play a major role. Training enhances muscle development, benefits the respiratory system and circulation and improves the horse’s movement. There are of course studs in the world, which are just show-orientated, but these show-only-horses become a sort of storage of various undesirable, hidden defects, which can be uncovered during training. And although today our Arabians cannot compete against the French or Russian counterparts, contrary to them they have maintained the distinctive Arabian type and looks, combining beauty and stamina in one package. The Polish Arabian is sought after not only because of its looks, but also because of its athletic abilities. The prices achieved for Polish racing Arabians in the last years are evidence of that. The phenomenal, although not very beautiful, Druid was sold to Turkey for 500,000 USD, similar to the Derby winner and Polish National Champion Stallion Batyskaf (450,000 USD). Last year buyers from Australia paid 210,000 EURO for the Derby-winning Espadero, while two years ago the magnificent Savannah made a swell addition to stud of the Saudi Arabian sheikhs for 135,000 EUR. A successful racing trial is a huge asset, taking into consideration a growing interest in the various forms of performance work for the Arabian horse. And when a stallion is not only beautiful but also brave, his value instantly grows and the possibilities of using him in breeding, not only in the pure-blood sector, significantly widen.
We just have to hope that Polish racing manages to overcome these hard times and finds a solution which will enable for the continuation of the 80 year tradition. 7 million PLN is needed for the organization of one racing season. We are waiting now for the decisions. As we were told, the chairman of PKWK, Feliks Klimczak, has an emergency plan. Off the record we have learned that the plan is:
1. the beginning of the season: 22nd of April
2. 60 racing days
3. 5 million PLN for prize money.
These days we will see what is going to happen.