During the pandemic that permeated everyone’s everyday life, regardless of age, nationality or profession, the Katara International Arabian Horse Festival, organized on a grand scale, was in the world of pure Arabian horses like a light at the end of the tunnel, giving hope that we will return to normal. Luxury, professionalism and a high prize pool (approx. 4 million euro) attracted the attention of Arabian horse breeders and lovers from all over the world. A team of professionals worked on the quality of the show many weeks before the event began. However, one who thinks that the Katara show is only about Arabian horses would be wrong.
The entire event, taking place over more than a week, is primarily a promotion of a country that bases its economy on the export of raw materials, while focusing on the development of tourism. It attracts the eyes of the world by organizing top-level sports competitions in almost every field. Horses in general, and Arabian horses in particular, are a source of pride in Qatar. The government has been taking care of horse breeding for many years, sparing no money for its development. A strong Qatari state stud brings associations with the functioning of similar breeding units in our country and the involvement of the owners. In Qatar, however, the role of the state is not limited to organizing shows, but extends to the continuous support of breeding and equestrian sports. The current trends in breeding Arabian horses are strongly focused on the participation of horses in classic “in hand” shows and the selection of a type intended for such shows.
Qatari studs, mainly the leaders in breeding show horses such as Al Shaqab, Aljassimya Farm, Al Thumama and Al Nasser – are able to fill the podiums with their pupils at each show, while not forgetting about the breeding traditions, including Straight Egyptian horses, which are of great importance here. While the shows, due to their spectacular nature and the organizational costs incurred, are very elite and luxurious, Qatar equally strongly supports the development of broadly understood equestrianism, including racing and endurance. The Longines Arena is impressive, and a few weeks after the Katara show, it will host show jumping and dressage competitions in the Longines Global Champions Tour. This is one of the many pieces of evidence that the country supports breeding and equestrianism, not limiting itself only to the Arabian breed.
The place of the show, the Katara Cultural Village, perfectly thought out in terms of choice, was clearly associated with the Bedouin tradition. It was an unusual, modern, phenomenally beautiful variation on the theme of a Bedouin tent. In front of the VIP box, fishing boats of historical origin were moored, which, tied with ropes, completed the view of the arena. Against the background of the blue-sapphire sea, it looked extremely harmonious. The design of the arena and the decor of the sectors for the public were at such a high level of aesthetics that it is hard to compare them to anything that has been seen at this type of show so far. A carefully refined concept complemented by decorations based on local design, soft carpets, leather sofas, marble tables, professional catering and, above all, well-planned communication routes (a footbridge was built above the entrance for horses, which allowed for safe passage between sectors). It all heightened the impression of luxury. The whole thing was ecru, combined with gold, beige and brown, modest at first glance, yet elegant, as befits a party in a desert lord’s tent. All this was a perfect setting for the competing of 252 horses listed in the catalogue.
The junior classes were numerous and both fillies and colts were divided into series A and B, with the exception of the three-year-old colts. The show’s guests could see the yearling fillies champion already in the first class – of the yearling fillies. And it was with the number 2, the lovely bay Jalyla AT (Mahder Al Jamal – Jayda Al Rabi), bred and owned by Al Thumama Stud. In the yearling and two-year-old fillies classes, the level was fairly even and high. In series B of the two-year-old fillies, the charming grey Rose KAS (Zeus EA – Remarqable Melody), bred by Dawid Borowiec from Koronowo Arabian Stud, owned by Qatari Al Reeh Stud, presented herself beautifully. She qualified for the championships from third place in her class. Michałów’s Ferrum, entered in the two-year-old colts class, ultimately did not appear one the arena, although in this class he had a chance to meet the grey Muranas Nader (Emerald J – Muranas Nabila), bred by Michaela Weidner from Murana Stud, owned by Guy Jamar. We would like to remind that Ferrum easily defeated Nader during last year’s European Championships in Prague.
The three-year-old fillies classes had good entries, and in both series (A and B), there were horses bred at Polish studs, high-quality fillies that did not disappoint their buyers. In class 3A, the grey Emarella (Sahm El Arab – Emandorella), bred by Michałów Stud, owned by Sh. Jassima bin Khalifa H A Al-Thani, defeated, among others, her stable mate, the chestnut Mona Lisa Al Jassimya (Equator – Minwah), owned by the same owner and the future silver medallist of the show – Sultanah Al Shahania (Sultan Al Zobara – Majolicaa). In the 3B series, the bay Janów-bred Amirata (EKS Alihandro – Alhasa), owned by Al Sraiya Stud, had a good performance. She finally took 5th place in the class. The class in which Amirata performed was won by the little known bay Al Wazna Al Shaqab (SMA Magic One – Bushrah Al Shaqab), bred and owned by Al Shaqab Stud. The highly promoted bay three-year-old Maria Magdalena NWA (Fa El Rasheem – Magdalena NWA), bred by NWA Arabians from Denmark, on lease to the Qatari Al Tumama stud, took second place. As a one-year-old filly, she won a prestigious show in Dubai. Although she lacks movement and show charisma, her standing position impresses every time.
While the judges’ verdicts in the junior mare classes did not arouse any controversy, the final was almost sensational. The gold was awarded to the second in class, the aforementioned Maria Magdalena NWA, and the silver to the bay Sultanah Al Shahania, who clearly lost in class to Emarella. The bronze medal was awarded to Al Wazna Al Shaqab, who in her class defeated the later champion, Maria Magdalena NWA. Emarella was out of the podium, mainly due to Polish judges, which was quite surprising. The results of the junior stallions championship were not a surprise, although in this case the combination of circumstances regarding judging requires asking the question whether it is ethical for the judge, who is also the breeder of the horse shown in the championship, to be a member of the judging committee of a given show, especially since the horses (bred by one of the judges) is owned by another judge (but, as one judge said in her interview before the show … “we are family”). The Qatari show proves that this family is too closely related. However, with regard to the order in this age category, there was no controversy and the result was in line with the expectations, and most of all it was in line with the results achieved by the horses in the classes.
The senior mare classes were numerous and the quality of the presented horses was very high. In the 7-10 year old mares class (series A) in beautiful style won Galerida (Shanghai EA – Galilea) from Michałów and owned by Al Thumama Stud. The greatest emotions were aroused by the second series (B) in the same age category, where two future medalists of the show competed against each other. The absolute best at this show was the milky grey, breathtaking, Noft Alnayfat (Ajman Moniscione – Eagleridge Pasionata), bred in the USA, owned by Sh. Jassima Khalifa H A Al-Thani. The second is also very well known, bred in Brazil, Baviera HVP (Marwan Al Shaqab – HB Bessolea), owned by Sh. Alquaqa Hamada Kh. H Al-Thani. In this extremely strong class, the good performance of the Janów-bred bay mare Al Jazeera (Kahil Al Shaqab – Alhasa), owned by Al Sraiya Stud, should be considered a success. Finally, in the senior mares championship, the gold medalist Noft Alnayfat and bronze Baviera HVP (current world champion from 2019) were separated by the winner of the oldest mare class, the beautiful, fourteen-year-old, grey Rihab Al Nasser (Marwan Al Shaqab – Remal Al Nasser), bred and owned by Al Nasser Stud from Qatar. Deserving attention is the second place in class of the Michałów-bred grey Piacenza (QR Marc – Primawera), owned by Al Shahania Stud. In this competition, she gave way only to the future gold medalist. The flea-bitten grey, with her class and dryness, Piacenza attracted the eye both in class and in the championships.
Both the classes and the senior stallion championships did not bring great sensations. Bred at the Belgian Knocke Arabians stud, the grey Sundown K.A. (QR Marc – L Serenella), owned by Sh. Jassima Khalifa H A Al-Thani, won very confidently, leaving no doubts about the result. Two years ago he won gold at the largest show in the United Arab Emirates – the Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship. The silver was awarded by the judges to EKS Mansour (EKS Alihandro – EKS Phateena), bred by EKS Arabians (South Africa), owned by Al Shahania Stud, the silver medalist of the A-class show in Menton in 2019. The bronze was won by the 2013 bay world champion, bred by Michael Byatt and Orrion Farm, Fadi Al Shaqab (Besson Carol – Abha Myra), owned by Al Shaqab. Fadi Al Shaqab thus surpassed his son, strongly cheered on by the spectators, the chestnut Falah Al Shaqab (Fadi Al Shaqab – Joseph Just Emotion), bred and owned by Al Shaqab Stud.
During the decoration of the winners, they were awarded not only huge amounts of money, but also extremely beautiful statuettes, which were the objects of desire of the participants themselves. The organizers managed to conduct the ceremony elegantly and efficiently, without unnecessary celebrations, so that the atmosphere of the show did not fade away. The culmination of the event was a phenomenal farewell performance, taking place at sea, in the arena and in the sky. Water, light and fire, set against a navy blue sky, were chosen for a sophisticated accent, ending the four-day Katara International Arabian Horse Festival. We said goodbye to this unusual event with the words “see you” displayed in the sky.