The All Nations Cup which took place at the end of September in Aachen is one of the most prestigious events of the show season. It is the first stop on the star route before the upcoming European, US and World Championships. It is here that trends are set, trends which will later be followed in the breeding of show horses. And this year will definitely belong to horses gifted with Arabian type!
The confirmation of this thesis is the victory of a living legend of world show horse breeding, the stallion WH Justice (Magnum Psyche – Vona Sher-Renea/El Sher-Mann) in the Senior Stallion Championship. This horse has as much avid followers as diehard adversaries. Probably that’s why the mere announcement of his participation in the show caused quite a stir. A wide promotional campaign, heralded as “The Return of the King” led to presume that the star is going to Aachen to claim another title.
However before we got to see the star of this year’s All Nations Cup, a sensation was created by one of his sons. The three year old Shanghai E.A. (out of Salymah/Khidar) won his class with a high score of 93,3 points, besting by 0,4 points one of the main favorites of the show, the bay Kahil Al Shaqab (Marwan Al Shaqab – OFW Mishaahl/Mishaah). The milky-white Shanghai E.A. was the only one out of all the assessed juniors to gain a full set of “20s” for head and neck. This correct and short-bodied stallion definitely benefitted from the change of handler (presented last season by Philip Looyens). In the hands of Frank Spönle he displayed a movement full of expression complete with a raised tail, which undoubtedly resulted in higher notes for type (two “20s” and three “19,5”s). In the championships only Gianmarco Aragno did write him down as the gold medalist (giving that recognition to Van Gogh AM instead). And so with that the Champion title went to the Spanish stud of Equus Arabians, which bred, promoted and led this colt to the very top all on their own! An exceptional achievement and quite a rarity in Arabian horse breeding. In the majority of cases European breeders sell their promising graduates to Middle Eastern owners, who later go on to win medals at the most prestigious shows. No wonder that great joy and emotions were present and there was no end to the congratulations in the VIP sector!
The Silver was awarded to the slightly controversial to me Van Gogh AM (Magnum Psyche – Ynazia HCF/AF Don Giovani), bred by Sally J. Bedeker and owned by Al Mohamadia Stud. The colt caused much sensation already as a foal. I took a look at him close up and I must admit that graphic artists do not have to retouch his photographs… He really has a head like that! An extremely short muzzle, an ultra dished profile and large, animated eyes. The colt rivets attention despite a weaker body and topline; he also cannot boast outstanding movement. However a name inspired by the painting genius seems to be ideal for him, as he acts on the emotions of spectators just like the paintings of Vincent van Gogh. Will he exert such a far-reaching influence on breeding as the master had on the history of art?
The Bronze Medal was awarded to the Belgian Espressivo, winner of the two year old colts’ class. He is the son of Michałów Polish State Stud’s Emocja (Monogramm – Emigracja/Palas) and QR Marc, whose owner Paul Gheysens bought the rights to embryos out of several outstanding Polish mares. As it turns out, he didn’t have to wait long for success. Blessed with a beautiful, swan-like neck, horizontal topline and most of all very good movement the colt easily bested in class the Polish Empire (Enzo – Emira/Laheeb). It is hard not to feel a certain disappointment that when Polish breeding lacks good young stallions like never before, our best broodmares are so easily made available to other breeders, who thanks to this achieve results that we somehow can’t seem to obtain.
The competition of the first series of senior stallions was won by the Falborek-bred and Gestüt Ismer-owned another WH Justice son, the grey Altis (out of Albia/Pers). Although the stallion didn’t especially want to move and went into canter most of the time, the judges did however notice several moments of impressive trot, with which he is gifted. Thanks to that we saw 3 plates with the “20” mark for movement. The final score of 92,20 allowed him to best even the statuesque in halt representative of Qatar, the chestnut Bashir Al Shaqab (Marwan Al Shaqab – SWF Valencia/Psytanium), which lost by 0,4 points. Unfortunately in the championships Altis had to yield to his rivals, including none other than his sire.
Although the class which preceded the performance of WH Justice was still taking place, several dozen people were already heading for the warm up arena. The grounds in front of the indoor arena gathered a crowd of enthusiasts of the 12 year old stallion. Suddenly somebody shouted “He’s coming!”. For many breeders, who have obtained his offspring from dams in their own barns, it was the first opportunity to see him live.
The stallion’s entry onto the arena was preceded by a clamor of rattles, which – bearing his name – were being given out since morning. When he entered the arena, applause mixed with screams and hooting. Bearing the distinctive Mahomet’s touch, the stallion trotted with a highly raised tail and beautifully arched neck to the rhythm of Tom Jones’ “Sex bomb, sex bomb, you’re a sex bomb”, causing a burst of euphoria. The following marks were given: five “20s” for type,
five “20s” for a refined head with animated, sparkling eyes and three “20s” complemented by a “19,5” and “19” for movement. The final score of 93 points (two “17s”, two “17,5s” and a “16,5” for body and topline, four “16s” and a “16,5” for legs) awarded to a living legend of world show horse breeding caused the public to give a standing ovation. Several hours later the stallion claimed the title of Senior Champion Stallion. Having to settle for the silver was the unanimously voted (earlier two judges pointed him out as the champion) representative of Saudi Arabia – Marquis CAHR (Marwan Al Shaqab – Rohara Magnifica/Echo Magnifico), bred by R. Graham & Sandra C. Powell, owned by Al Khalediah Stables. The previous day the stallion won the 7-10 year olds class with the highest score of the show: 94,4, which included as many as ten “20s” (five for type, four for head and neck, one for movement).
So WH Justice had a worthy rival and more than one spectator commented that it was Marquis that deserved the highest accolade. However when the quality is this high, determining the winner is always extremely hard.
The ratio of votes for the bronze medalist was 3 to 2 to 1. Victorious was Al Fakir (Mahadin – Al Estrella/Essteem) before Nijem Ibn Eternity and Bashir Al Shaqab. The pupil of the Austrian stud Al Hambra Arabians despite a straight, but refined head, sports a horizontal and short topline and thanks to a correct conformation his final score amounted to 92,5.
After the championships WH Justice’s handler, Frank Spönle, walked over with his pupil to the VIP table which seated the representatives of the Polish State Studs. It is no secret that the directors are very skeptical about the stallion due to his conformational flaws, especially his drooping topline. However I wonder whether some have already forgotten times when the stallion Palas (the same sire line branch that WH Justice originates from) was used in Polish breeding? He was used during 1973–1990 in all State Studs active at the time: Janów Podlaski, Michałów, Kurozwęki and Białka. He sired 213 foals and left 9 chief sires and 72 broodmares. Thanks to him the heads and necks of Polish Arabians greatly improved and also gained on type. Palas was used despite a soft topline, which he passed on to his offspring. If no one had risked his genes in the Polish herd, we wouldn’t have a Pianissima or an Emandoria, as both have his blood in their veins.
Speaking of conformation and type – unquestionably our mares presented a very correct built, especially of the body and legs, thanks to which they gained high marks for those traits. Unfortunately in the end none of them reached for the title, although some qualified for the championships. In the senior classes victorious was Michałów State Stud’s Emmona (Monogramm – Emilda/Pamir), who gained a high score of 93,8 points. However she received only one vote from Marianne Tengstedt and for the bronze at that. The fight for the Gold Medal
went down between two representatives of the United Arab Emirates. The bred in Blommeröd bay Magora (Gazal Al Shaqab – Margotka/Algorytm), owned by AL Khalediah Stables, went against the milky-white, proud Badawieh AA (Laheeb – Bahia/Baahir), bred by Ariela Arabians, owned by Ajman Stud. The judges voted 3 to 3, with Magora winning due to her higher final score by 0,4 points. The Bronze went to the grey Jasmeenah (WH Justice – Fforget-Me-Not/Ffatal Attraction), bred by Carole Anne Ratcliff, owned by Al Jassimya Farm.
In the junior mares championship we saw ten magnificent fillies, out of which three were Polish bred – the highest score among them was the beautifully moving grey Psyche Kreuza (Ekstern – Pallas-Atena/Ecaho), bred and owned by Chrcynno-Palace Stud, who gained 92,4 points (including three “20s” for movement). In a strong class she was bested by the later Junior Reserve Champion, the phenomenal Jordanian Almasa (Monarcos DD – Jawaahir/Hlayyil Ramadan), who last year as a new competitor unexpectedly gained the bronze in the World Championships.
The second Polish representative in the finals was the sold at this year’s Pride of Poland for 475 thousand euro Michałów’s Piacenza (QR Marc – Primawera/Emigrant), who for her new owner, Al Shahania Stud, gained 92,1 points and placed second in class. But in the championships she didn’t get even one vote. Apparently even the spending of huge amounts of money doesn’t guarantee success. Shirley Watts learned this lesson even more painfully, as her 6 year old Pinta (Ekstern – Pilar/Fawor), purchased two years ago for half a million euro, made it only as far as 8th place in class.
The last filly that had a chance to bring Poland a medal was Zigi Zana (QR Marc – Zagrobla/Monogramm). At first it was announced that she won her class (with a score of 91,7) before the French Mirwanah Kalliste (Marwan Al Shaqab – Nakubaya Kossack/Kubay Khan), bred and owned by Kalliste Arabians. However after the decorations ceremony the results were verified and it turned out that the result of France’s representative (initially 91,6) was higher by 0,1. With that she matched the score of Michałów’s two year old and after having compared the partial marks the French filly took the lead. The trophy for first place had to be given back. Our filly also lacked luck in the finals, which were won by Ajman Stud’s representative, the bay AJ Sawahi (Marwan Al Shaqab – Siberia SA/Nuzyr HCF). The filly achieved the highest score among all the female juniors: 93,1 and bested by 2,3 points in her class the widely promoted Stivalery BJ (Stival – V Exotic Enchantress/Versace), for whom even the applause from
spectators “bribed” with candy bars bearing the filly’s name did not help much. It then became clear that AJ Sawahi is a candidate for the highest title. She was only threatened by the afore mentioned Almasa and her crowd of followers. As it soon turned out the judges spread their votes evenly, 3 to 3. The victory of the United Arab Emirates over Jordan was determined by just 0,1 points! There was also room on the podium for Saudi Arabia – the bronze went to the bay Ghazalat Al Khalediah (PA Gazsi – Argentinna SS/Arius SS), bred by Pannonia Arabians, owned by Al Khalediah.
The Nations’ Cup and The Breeders’ Cup
The Nations’ Cup was won by Belgium, who accumulated 39 points, 8 more than Poland, second in the rank. The Polish team looked at the joy of the Belgians with a certain jealousy, not only due to the defeat. Spontaneous joy, smiles on people’s faces, applause and unending congratulations. Breeders and followers, who rooted for their pupils through the entire event, walked onto the arena. Everyone encouraged one another to join the group, so that no one would be missing during the decorations. How did the scene look like, when it was Poland that was victorious?…
The awarded since 2001 Breeders’ Cup, known as the Major Hedley Trophy, was claimed by the United States. In this case the show arena was also filled with happy and smiling people, who celebrated the victory together.
The Polish team did not gain a single medal. The responsibility for the defeat can be try to be placed on unfair judging, uneven chances when compared to the wealthy breeders from the Middle East and even on Polish supporters, who according to some were cheering our horses a bit too quietly.
However today Arabian horse shows are not just breeding inspections, but exactly as the name suggests – shows. Horse owners are very well aware of the strength of promotion and reach for newer and newer ideas. The applause of the public has become priceless. Many breeders and owners are well aware of this and aren’t ashamed in loudly rooting for their pupils. The sheikhs and their teams have especially achieved perfection in this matter.
This year’s All Nations Cup proved that beside a correct conformation what’s needed is also the right type. None of these traits separately will make an Arabian horse a good horse. Polish horses lacked an indescribable factor which seizes the hearts of both judges and spectators alike. Horses such as WH Justice cannot be denied charisma and it was he that ruled this show.