Great hospitality, a high attendance, lots of top notes, balloon flights and most of all a breeding inspection that everyone interested in Polish breeding was waiting for – that’s how we will remember the Junior Spring show in Białka (June 3rd-4th). How did the state studs do? Do private breeders have anything to offer? Were there any surprises? Those are the questions that hung in the air. And 112 horses in the arena (124 were entered) is a sufficient amount at an attempt to answer them.
One thing is for sure, the organizers did all they could so that the public would not feel bored even for a minute. Undoubtedly the greatest and most spectacular attraction prepared by the Małopolska Hodowla Roślin company was the flight of four balloons, which took off straight from the arena after the end of Saturday’s classes. The balloons from Kraków Balloon Team floating above the stud will probably become one of the most recognizable images from this year’s Białka show. Many of those that waited to see this spectacle saw something like this for the first time. Whereas the passengers must’ve had an unforgettable experience.
But coming back to Earth. Białka is an indicator for Polish breeding, showing in what direction this breeding is heading and what will be its asset in the nearest future; on the other hand it is a fierce competition. When looking at the rivalry aspect, state and private breeding justly divided the gold medals between themselves, gaining two each. At the end it was Michałów that triumphed – chosen unanimously as Best in Show was chestnut two year old Poganinka (El Omari – Pentra/Poganin).
Michałów: lucky seven
Without any doubt Michałów Stud has huge reasons to be proud, because not only did they go home with the Best in Show trophy, they also won seven classes and seven medals, including two gold ones. Ekstern made himself seen as a sire, whose get each year are of a high quality. This year he shone bright with the bay Edmund (out of the Ejrene daughter Editha by Eden C), a yearling who in series A earned a high score of 92,33 pts and who later reached for the silver medal in his age category. Among the young sires it was El Omari that turned heads, whose daughter Poganinka claimed the title of Junior Champion Mare, Best in Show, as well as the highest scored horse of the show (which doesn’t always go hand in hand): her total score soared to 94,17 pts! The judges awarded her with as many as five “20s”, including three for movement. Poganinka is not a debutante on show arenas – last year she became a silver medallist at the Al Khalediah European Arabian Horse Festival in Nowe Wrońska; she also won the yearling class at Janów Podlaski.
Another one of Michałów’s sires, Equator, represented by Dastan (out of Dama Pik/Enzo), winner of the 2 year olds B series (92,5) and junior bronze champion stallion, rendered great services not only for the stud from Pińczów, but also for private breeding, which we will talk about in a moment. Dastan himself is a horse who likes challenges, because similarly to last year he tested the organizers’ nerves and took a walk through the surroundings during the presentation in the finals.
Empire, sire of the year old Ebira (out of Ebra by Alert), who with a score of 92,33 won the C series of the yearling fillies class and became bronze champion in this age category, must be mentioned as one of those sires whose get cannot be omitted. Also worthy of a separate mention is Medalion. His daughter, the year old Emdrona (out of Elgora by Poganin) first won the B series of the yearling fillies with a score of 92,67 and later became reserve champion. Medalion, just like Equator, also did a lot of good for private breeders.
When speaking of sires with a Michałów-origin we should also mention the son of Emandoria, Emerald J, who made himself seen during the show as the sire of Emandenor (out of Emandilla by Om El Shahmaan, daughter of Espadrilla by Monogramm), winner of the yearling colts B series (92,33, including 2×20 for movement) and gold medalist in this category, chosen unanimously by all judges.
The list of Michałów’s successes is complemented by: a reserve championship in the junior mares and victory in the A series of the 2 year old fillies class, which went to the daughter of Emandoria, the chestnut Emanolla (94 pts, including 2×20, the second highest score of the show) and a Top Five title for the son of Wilda, Woronin (both horses by Vitorio TO). Woronin qualified for the finals from second place in the B series of the yearling colts class (92 pts, including a “20” for movement).
“We are very pleased with the results, though of course we do not want to monopolize Polish breeding”, says Maciej Paweł Grzechnik, the president of Michałów Stud. “In Białka there were many good horses, but perhaps ours, thanks to the team work of our entire staff, they were better prepared.”
“I am very happy that the winner was a filly by a Polish stallion”, adds Hanna Sztuka, director of animal production at Michałów Stud. “We saw a lot of excellent horses by foreign sires, which gave great get. But in the end it was the filly by the Michałów-bred El Omari that won. Her dam Pentra will be one of the stars of this year’s Pride of Poland Sale. We knew that Poganinka is a high quality mare, so we decided that her dam can be put up for sale. We are sure that she will be worthily replaced at the stud.”
“It is surprising for us that Poganinka bested Emanolla”, Hanna Sztuka comments on the rivalry between two graduates of Michałów. “But she deserved it. It was her lovely movement that determined it. She was more fresh than Emanolla. Though with this quality of mares the difference is slight, the unanimous verdict of the judges during the selection of Best in Show proved that this time Poganinka was the better of the two.”
Let’s recall that last year in Białka these fillies found themselves together in the Top Five, with Emanolla at the 4th spot and Poganinka at 5th. Both also competed against each other in the European Championships placing second (Emanolla) and third (Poganinka) in class.
This year we did not see Mariusz Liśkiewicz on the arena, who has focused on his role as a trainer at Michałów, leaving the handling of horses to his younger colleagues who have a splendid opportunity to hone their skills under the wings of an expert.
Celita defends the hosts’ colors. Piękny Pan atop the podium
The hosts of the show wanted not only to appropriately receive the arriving guests, but also to be seen in the rivalry. This was possible thanks to the Białka-defending Celita (Lawrence El Gazal – Cella/Ekstern), who first won the class of three year old fillies with a score of 93,17 (including a “20” for type) and later placed fourth in the Top Five. Celita is a silver medalist from Buksza 2016 and a class winner and bronze medalist from the National Championships in 2015.
But one that did jump atop the podium was the grandson of Perfirka, Piękny Pan (Glorius Apal – Parilla/Enzo), who qualified for the finals from second place in the A series of the yearling colts class (91,83) and who secured a bronze medal for his maternal stud. “The result can always be better”, emphasizes Białka’s director Lucjan Cichosz. “I hope that the next year of our work will bring further effects. We will definitely not rest on our laurels, we can always do more.”
Pamina and Paris fight for Janów
A slight disappointment must be felt by Janów Podlaski, who definitely counted on a greater success of Pianissima’s daughter, Pamina by Pogrom. The heir of her famous dam placed second in the B series of the two year old fillies class, with a high score of 93,83. Though the judges awarded her with two top marks for head and neck, she did not manage to beat the later winner of the entire show, Michałów’s Poganinka. But an impressive total score is proof that the mare is liked by the judges and will reach for other medals in the future than “just” a bronze (which actually isn’t easy to win in Białka). Also battling it out for a medal in the finals was the freely moving Bambina (Kahil Al Shaqab – Bellisa/Poganin), though she only received a Top Five title. She placed second in her class (behind Celita) with a score of 92,67, including a “20” for head and neck and another for movement.
In the meantime another of Janów’s Kahil Al Shaqab get, Paris (out of Palmeta by Ecaho), won the three year old colts class (91,83) and in the finals reached for the Junior Silver Champion Stallion title. He had worthy opponents in his class (the known from other shows Petrarca, Milian and Milord El Shawan), though it was a less numerous class – just four contestants, with 12-13 in other classes. In the finals Paris lost to the winner El Shaad by just one point (19:20).
“In two years’ time the type that we roughly called “American” will be dominant”, we anticipated in 2014 when there was an outpour of Kahil get and each horse in the arena looked like the one before him. Time verified these prognoses. Only some of Kahil’s offspring made it through the “selection sieve” that they underwent in subsequent show seasons. This year at Białka we again saw horses in diversified types and the judges relied on their own taste, awarding horses from various breeding programs.
Private breeding on the offensive
Two of the gold medals went to private breeders. It is not a surprise, since already last year private breeders scored successes not only in Janów, but also in Białka. One could attempt at measuring the show’s friendliness towards contestants representing private breeding using, for instance, the Gzavi indicator. “A star of the show arena, a horse that appealed to judges at higher ranked shows – the colt Gzavi, did not find himself on the podium. Furthermore – he didn’t even make the championship top five. The judges omitted him completely, which must raise questions”, we commented back in 2014 the huge disappointment of Nina Suskevicova, the owner of Gzavi. Three years later the same Nina Suskevicova walked out to collect the Yearling Champion Mare garland for the bay Persia Touch SW (EKS Alihandro – Princess Touch SW/Yllan El Jamaal). Extremely feminine and photogenic, second in her class (92,17, including a “20” for head and neck), Persia bested Michałów’s Emdrona and Ebira in the finals. It was possible because the Białka finals for the first time were “open”, meaning that each horse that qualified for the finals could win the gold. And so if in 2014 on a 0 to 5 scale we would have given the show zero “Gzavis” in terms of friendliness, this time we would have given it five. Who knows, perhaps this will encourage more foreign owners to entrust the careers of their horses to Polish training centres?
But it is not only the Czech breeder who keeps her horses in Poland that had reasons to be happy. The recognizable breeders from Łódź, Małgorzata i Józef Pietrzak, had two of their horses qualify for the finals. El Shaad (FA El Shawan – El Estrada/Justify) became Junior Champion Colt. This silver medalist from the 2016 Al Khalediah European Arabian Horse Festival and 2016 European Championship Top Five qualified from second spot in class (92,17). Markiza of Justice (WH Justice – Markiza of Marwan/Marwan Al Shaqab) won the A series of the yearling fillies (91,33) and later took the title of Top Five. The Pietrzak’s filly was bested in the finals (placing fourth) by bred and owned by Piotr Podgórny Espaja (Aja Justified – Espanera/Kabsztad), who with a score of 91 pts placed second in class (and later became Top Five).
And finally two more Top Five titles went to private breeders in the junior stallion category. Equalion (Equator – Evolett/Ajman Moniscione), bred and owned by Zalia Arabians, won the A series of the two year old colts class with a score of 91,33, before Calatorio (Vitorio TO – Calatea/Ekstern), full brother to the show-known Calateon bred and owned by Marek Kondrasiuk. Both horses had the same final score, but Equalion received higher marks for type. In the finals the graduate of Katarzyna and Robert Witkowski again bested Calatorio by placing at the fourth spot.
Encouraging is the fact that a filly from a small stud, the yearling Eta Carinae (Medalion – Edicion Corta/Esparto), bred by Lilia Markowska-Ataman and owned by Dawid Borowiec, fared better than other horses bred at larger studs. The bay, delicate filly placed second in class with a score of 91,17, including 2×20 for type and 2×20 for head and neck, with one of the judges pointing to her as a gold medalist in the finals. The filly received the same amount of points in the championships as Markiza of Justice, but lower points in class determined her loss. It’s worth noting that the already third generation of horses in the stables of Lilia Markowska-Ataman comes from two mares purchased years ago at Michałów.
Poland – land of the Arabian horse
Marc Veray (France), who judged the show beside Christine Jamar (Belgium), Gideon Reisel (Holland) and Tomasz Tarczyński (Poland) summed up this experience as: “I am honored that I could judge in Poland, the land of the Arabian horse. Without Poles the Arabian horse would not be what it is today. We saw horses of very high quality, which has been a standard in the state studs for years. I am also very surprised with the quality of private breeding. It is wonderful that Polish breeding can count on so many keen breeders, this bodes well for the future. I think that we the judges were very agreeable, picking out the best horses from this group. I wish to congratulate the breeders and organizers, it is always a huge pleasure to judge in Poland, especially since I have been a fan of Polish breeding for many years. I was in Janów when Emisja* won, an unforgettable mare. I knew Director Jaworowski well, he was an extraordinary man to me. I see that Poles are still great breeders and that the standard of breeding has not decreased. I would advise people that are just starting their adventure with Arabian horses to visit Poland. Such a visit will definitely allow them to grow as breeders.”
Bogdan Szumański, president of the Małopolska Hodowla Roślin company and host of the event, is also satisfied with the course of the show: “It is surely different than the previous ones, because it has been surrounded by accompanying events and local authorities have also joined in the organization”, he stresses. “I think that all participants – breeders, invited guests, children which celebrated their holiday – are satisfied”.
Indeed, the event had an atmosphere of a family picnic in pleasant weather. The organizers are counting on the additional events to draw spectators not necessarily associated with the “Arabian industry”. “Let’s ask ourselves whether the Arabian horses and balloons have something in common? In my opinion balloons are an exclusive sport, which further supports the exclusive brand of the Arabian horse. This is an added value which only increases the event’s significance”, sums up president Szumański.
This significance has also been amplified by a livestream on the internet by the Italian Arabian Essence. Until now we have always heard that it is not possible to do a broadcast from Białka due to technical issues. This year it was possible and the online viewers could follow the show.
*Emisja (Carycyn – Espada/Equinor), born in 1974, dam of Enrilo and Emigracja, was named Polish National Senior Champion Mare in 1984.