For the first time in the history of Arabian horse breeding in Poland an A-ranked ECAHO show took place – it was the fifth edition of the Al Khalediah European Arabian Horse Festival in Nowe Wrońska (17–18th of August). Like each year, the third day of the festival moved to Warsaw’s Służewiec Racetrack, where spectators could watch the A category race for the Al Khalediah Cup (19th of August).
With the fifth edition of the show, organized by Al Khalediah Stud Poland and General Manager Hubert Kulesza, the entire team joined the circle of the most prestigious shows in Europe and found themselves among just three shows held on our continent as A-ranked (there are of course also three Title shows). And only two of them take place outdoors, Menton and the hereby mentioned Nowe Wrońska.
Luckily the weather was favourable for both people and horses – the heat was bearable and the storm on the second day managed to omit the show grounds. Despite the rain there was no need to stop the show like last year, when the downpour made competing impossible. The guests also turned up in large numbers – the VIP tent was full from the first minute of the show until the last.
There was a record number (for the show at Nowe Wrońska) of entered horses – 123 was the last start number. In the end 103 horses were shown in the arena. From the very first edition the show had the pleasure of hosting extraordinary contestants and this year was no different. We saw plenty of stars in the show ring and the quality did not differ from what we can see at the most prestigious European arenas.
We must note several organizational changes – first of all the drawing of the judges (five from among seven) before each class, as well as crossing out the lowest and highest marks. The average was counted after discarding both extreme marks, which resulted in a “flattening” of scores, but also eliminated marks that clearly diverged from the rest. Such a system has both its followers and opponents. One thing did not change – the finals were not open and a third placed horse in class could not win a gold medal. The gold medalists were chosen, similarly to previous years, only from among class winners. A new feature was the awarding of Top Five titles to horses which in the finals took 4th and 5th place. The show was judged by: Silvia Garde-Ehlert (Germany), Charlotte Rowell (Great Britain), Urs Aesbacher (Switzerland), Robbie den Hartog (Netherlands), Regis Huet (France), Mohamed Machmoum (Morocco) and Pierluigi Rota (Italy).
The organizer returned to Mercedes-Benz cars, which had been prizes for winners during the first two editions of the Festival. The money prizes were as follows: 20 thousand PLN (around 5 thousand EUR) for the silver, 10 thousand for the bronze (around 2,5 thousand EUR), 5 thousand for 4th and 5th place (around 1250 EUR) in the finals and 4 thousand (around one thousand EUR) for each place in class from 1st to 5th. The Best in Show award was honorary.
And the Merecedes cars go to…
This year none of the Mercedes-Benz cars remained in Poland – all went to foreign owners: two to Jadem Arabians (Belgium), one to Halsdon Arabians (Great Britain), one to Al Muawd Stud (Saudi Arabia) and two to Germany (Murana and Osterhof studs).
The first gold medalist, chosen unanimously by the entire judging panel in the yearling fillies, was the grey, full of charisma Dana J (Excalibur EA – Dalja J/Emerald J), granddaughter of the later gold medalist, show star and proven sire Emerald J (QR Marc – Emandoria/Gazal Al Shaqab). This is without a doubt a triumph of Christine Jamar-Demeersseman (Jadem Arabians), who has been a part of the Festival since its very first edition. Her horses had been high on the winners’ lists before, but this time as many as two cars will head for Belgium. „We are extremely happy with our 2 unanimous gold champions at the AKEAHF show”, said Christine Jamar. “Of course a win is never expected. All the circumstances have to be positive for these achievements, like for example the journey to Poland, the horses need to be in a great and healthy condition and they need to perform great as well. If you combine this all together there is a chance of competing for the medals in the championships. The AKEAHF 2018 edition saw some strong entries and it is a show who always has a great quality of horses present. Very special is of course that both horses are homebred. It was nice and exciting for Emerald J to win the gold title in Poland as his dam Emandoria is most likely the best Polish bred horse till today. Even Dana J is tracing back to Emerald J through her dam Dalia J”. „Big congratulation to the Al Khalediah Poland organizing Team!”, sums up the breeder. “For us it was the best show in Europe”.
Another breeder that has once again come to Nowe Wrońska is Michaela Weidner from Germany. This time she brought the colt Muranas Magic (Muranas Jassehr – Muranas Muhtarah/Stival). A son of a stallion that was last year stationed at Michałów Stud (and who is still stationed there) won the second of the gold medals and so the Mercedes will be going to Germany. “I still can’t believe it”, said the happy breeder after the championship. “I’m still not aware that we won!”. Muranas Magic is already a fourth generation of horses bred at Murana Stud. „For us important is not only a pretty, typey horse with a nice head”, stresses the owner. “We are also asking for a good body and great legs.”
Among the junior fillies the gold medal was won (and the judges were again unanimous in their verdict) by the chestnut of great beauty, Venice MI (Allegiance MI – Valentine MI/DA Valentino), bred in Australia by Mulawa Arabians and owned by Al Muawd Stud (Saudi Arabia). „My brother found her when he was judging in Australia”, Ryan Bryn Jones told us. „I went down to double check as it was a long way to bring a horse and we both agreed that she would be great for Al Muawd Stud.” „She reminded me a lot of Aukubra (Aurabba – Pearl Lady/Bay Shadow), a colt my dad had junior world champion with in Paris in 1990. She is a different, modern style but very special at the same time. Next stop for her will be Aachen”, he also announced.
The next gold medalist was the three year old Cyclone OS (RFI Farid – Inspired Najla/Ajman Moniscione), representing the German Osterhof Stud owned by Karl-Heinz Stöckle. As the participants of the previous shows remember, Cyclone OS has already been in Poland, together with his beautiful dam, silver medalist from 2016 and class winner from 2014. Cyclone OS himself won a car for his owner for a second time – in 2016 the main prize for a gold medal was a Ford. „Yes, it was the second time Cyclone OS ended up at the AKF show as gold champion”, confirms Karl-Heinz Stöckle. “I love this show, the organisation takes amazing care about the participants of the show. I only missed the show last year, there were no cars at the 2017 edition and I love to fight for the cars. It makes an event very exclusive and exciting.” He adds: „My personal feeling is, everyone is very relaxed and happy, even without ending up as someone expects it. You never ever can expect a champion if you decide to compete at a level A show, you only can bring a strong competitor to a show and hope your horse performs well. There are only two things which maybe the organisation of the show could add”, the breeder from Osterhof has some suggestions. „They could introduce a participation lottery: it means the computer draws out the participation number of the competitor of class which begins. Second it needs to be at least five judges which need to be counted, then at this year edition there was a lot of tie in the qualification classes.” However Karl-Heinz Stöckle ensures that he will return to Nowe Wrońska next year. „Thanks to the organizer for giving us all a very exciting weekend in Poland.”
The bred at Janów Podlaski and owned by Halsdon Arabians Etnologia (Gazal Al Shaqab – Etalanta/Europejczyk) won the gold in the senior mare category and then the title of Best in show. The owners, Shirley and Charlie Watts, were present in Nowe Wrońska and collected the awards themselves. They appeared very comfortable at the Festival and did not decline photos to fans and smiled to everyone around.
The yearling classes saw the get of such known sires as FA El Rasheem, Fadi Al Shaqab, Excalibur EA, Ascot DD, Zeus EA, Marajj or finally Gazal Al Shaqab. Due to a flattening of scores, which we wrote about above (the exclusion of lowest and highest marks), there were a lot of ties – and so the first three finalists from class 1A had the same score of 91,33 and the order was determined by higher notes for type and movement. Victorious was the later gold medalist, the Belgian-bred Dana J. The winner in the B series was a representative of Falborek Arabians, Shanson F (Nofal NK – Shilla/Kahil Al Shaqab), also with a score of 91,33. The filly later won the silver, before Alyssa OS (FA El Rasheem – Accra OS/Ajman Moniscione) from Osterhof Stud, who added a bronze medal in the finals to the gold of her stablemate.
Muranas Magic won his A series with a score of 91,17 and behind him placed Lancaster OS (SMA Magic One – El Lucina OS/El Sid), another competitor of Gestuet Osterhof, confirming the high quality of his maternal stud. Lancaster OS won the Top Five title in the finals, being outdone on the podium by: the winner of the B series of the yearling colts Magic Al Gazal (Gazal Al Shaqab – Ale by Magnifique/Magic Magnifique), bred by Sweden Arabian Stud and owned by Sh. Arahman Saud Bin Khalid Alqasse and Janów’s Erantis (Ascot DD – Eugara/Om El Bellissimo), who placed second in this group.
The 2 year old fillies were also divided into two groups and the winner of the first was a charge of Minnesota Arabians of Małgorzata and Józef Pietrzak, Markiza of Justice (WH Justice – Markiza of Marwan/Marwan Al Shaqab). 92,33 is a beautiful score and Markiza of Justice was not omitted in the finals, taking the silver. The second group had a winner in the shape of Excalibria (Excalibur EA – Etnida/FS Bengali) bred and owned by Zalia Arabians of Katarzyna Dolińska-Witkowska (91,83), however in the finals she succumbed to the three year old fillies, which were the most numerous class – as many as 12 participants! Unbeaten proved Venice MI (92,83 and 2×20 for type and movement). Behind her placed Michałów’s great mover, Emanolla (Vitorio TO – Emandoria/Gazal Al Shaqab), 92,33 and as much as four “20s”: for type and 3 for movement, a recent gold medalist from the Polish Nationals in Warsaw, who here ended up with a bronze medal.
Among the junior colts not only Cyclone OS had been to Nowe Wrońska previously, but so did the other medalists: Aanan Lembarak (Hadidi Al Shaqab – AJ Sundos/Marwan Al Shaqab), bred and owned by Mohammed Mubarak Abdullah Al Sulaiti, won his class in the same place a year ago and repeated this success now. In 2017 he won a gold medal, but at the time there were no cars as main prizes and this time he was bested by Cyclone OS. Aanan Lembarak (91,67) had to settle for the silver. Also the bronze medalist Safwan Nayyar (Fayyad Al Fayyad – Starlight by Sissi/Psequel), from Nayyar Stud and owned by Abdullateef Ahmed Al Kandari, who entered the finals from third place in class, competed successfully in Nowe Wrońska last year winning his class and taking the gold (and prize money, because as it was already said there were no cars at the time).
And so ended the first day of the show (Friday), which began on time at noon and finished before 7:00 pm.
The senior classes were held before lunch on Saturday and the finals after the break. The A series of the 4-6 year old mares class was commenced with flair by Janów’s Adelita (Kahil Al Shaqab – Altamira/Ekstern), who did not receive a 20 for movement from only one judge. She set the bar for this class and for the scores of the three finalists – they received 92,83 each! However Adelita was bested in type by Michałów’s Wildona (Shanghai EA – Wilda/Gazal Al Shaqab), the silver medalist of the Polish Nationals (2×20 for type, 1×20 for head and neck and 3×20 for movement). Yet none of them stood on the podium, because those places were taken by their rivals from other classes: the winner of the B series of 4-6 year old mares, the Michałów-bred El Omarissa (El Omari – Ernissa/Ekstern), owned by Andrzej Wójtowicz, whose mare won the silver and earned a score of 93,83 in class (the same marks for movement as Adelita: 4×20); and Al Inaya (WH Justice – Al Dofina/Mahadin) from Al Hambra Arabians of Michael Huber, who won the A series of the 7 year old and above mares class with a score of 93,17 (20 for head and neck and 2×20 for movement). In the finals she secured the bronze.
There was an interesting situation in the B series of the 7 year old and older mares class. It was the least numerous with only four contestants (Chrcynno-Palace Stud withdrew the senior horses at the last minute), including three from one stable, namely Halsdon Arabians of Mr. and Mrs. Watts. Two of them were born at Janów Podlaski (Biruta by Ekstern out of Bajada by Pamir, and Etnologia) and one in Michałów (Ereira by Piruet out of Elgina by Ekstern). All three found themselves in the finals, but Etnologia broke the bank by earning – before getting the gold and the Best in Show title – as many as 94,17 pts, the highest score of the show with a 20 for type and a full set of 20s for movement! (This feat, namely a full set of 20s for movement, was managed by only one more horse, Atius O by Shahim Al Nakeeb out of Atia Oone/Johann El Jamal, bred by Oone LLC and owned by Regina Arabians of Czesław Gołaszewski.). Ereira’s trot also earned her 4×20 (93,17). We don’t need to add that the finals of the senior mares delivered all viewers plenty of aesthetic experiences. Beauty, finesse, charm – everything that Arabian horse breeding is about (or what it should be about).
But the senior stallions did not allow to become overshadowed. The 4-6 year old stallions class was won by Shadi Al Khalediah (F Shamaal – Layan Al Khalediah/Dakharo), a son the beautiful 2007 World Champion Mare. The bred at Al Khalediah Stables (Saudi Arabia) stallion is owned by Reza Allahdadi. As a junior he won titles at shows in Europe and the Middle East, but started his breeding career just this season. His high mark of 93,17 consisted of 20s for type (2×20) and movement (3×20). In the finals Shadi won the silver, as he was bested by another stallion that has been marching through show arenas like a storm – Emerald J who received 3×20 for type, 2×20 for head and neck and 3×20 for movement (93,67). And so two of Emandoria’s produce stood on the podium – Emanolla (bronze) and Emerald J (gold).
A very spectacular performance in Nowe Wrońska was delivered by Lawrence El Gazal (Gazal Al Shaqab – Lara El Ludjin/Ludjin El Jamal), representing La Movida Arabians of Gerlinde and Ferdinand Huemer. With a topline “line an ironing board” (citing Prof. Krystyna Chmiel) and a greatly set tail, he gained the same amount of points as Emerald J (with one top mark for type and two for movement) and the bronze in the finals.
From the beginning the favourite in the Al Khalediah Poland Cup, an A category race over 1600 m for 4 year old and up horses with 66500 PLN (around 16625 EUR) in prize money was the French mare trained by Michał Borkowski, the 4 year old General Lady (General – Rivale d’Efner/Dormane), owned by Rafał Płatek, winner of the Kabaret and Bandos Stakes. She was ridden by Szczepan Mazur, who had already won 43 races this season. General Lady won the race before the British-bred Shahad Athbah (Amer – Klover/Vert Olive). The time 1’48,7 turned out to be one of the best races over 1600 m at the Służewiec track.
Photo gallery of medalists & Top Five title winners, by Ewa Imielska-Hebda