When Count Kajetan Onufry Sierakowski built the first holiday house in Sopot in 1798, he was unlikely to be able to foresee the future prosperity of the place. The potential of Sopot as a health resort was soon noticed by Karol Wegner, a merchant of Gdańsk, who established the first Sopot’s seaside bathing beach in 1818 and by Jan Jerzy Haffner, a former doctor of the Napoleon’s army, who built the bathhouse in 1823. The resort developed successfully enough for Sopot to become a new stop on the Berlin-Szczecin railroad line in 1870. What is interesting,
horse race track was built in 1898, before Sopot was granted its municipal charter. The Sopot’s Hippodrome has been a center for equestrian sports for years and, after a major renewal, continues to exist in its original form under the management from the Town of Sopot. It is a vigorous sport center that hosts a number of equestrian events every year, including the CSIO5* played in June. The Hippodrome is also an important educational facility for young riders. More than one thousand students learn at the Hippodrome’s ten equestrian schools.
This is where the first exhibition of straight Arab horses was staged in the last weekend of July. Many breeders and owners of race Arab horses already know this facility but for breeders of show-only horses the event could be the first opportunity to visit this historical place with great traditions. Knowing the Sopot’s Hippodrome,
I never doubted that the place was friendly to horses and equestrian sports and, now, Sopot could become an important place on the international map of horse exhibitions. The Sopot Arabian Horse Show was arranged by Ward Bemong who put a lot of work and heart into the staging of the event and the very fact that – under the difficult present circumstances, at the time of the pandemic, when most European shows have been canceled – the hosts managed to gather in Sopot some friendly sponsors and 82 horses (of those listed in the catalog, 6 horses failed to arrive) deserves appreciation.
The Sopot Arabian Horse Show featured the neat catalog, the austere but beautiful show yard and the elegant modesty and unpretentiousness. The lack of promotion, criticized on the Web, had this advantage that the novice host did not have to face crowds of audience and could focus on the breeders and guests to whom the show was dedicated. This is how the hosts managed to create the cozy and friendly atmosphere for both VIPs and other guests. The brick stables, although distant from the show yard, provided comfort, safety and, most importantly, protection from the burning sun, which can hardly be expected of portable boxes. The managers of the areas for guests advertised themselves in the catalog with the “Tents with a WOW effect” catchphrase and they kept their promise. The program of the show was well-planned and followed quite accurately.
It made it possible to avoid needless ceremony, reach the finish line smoothly on Sunday, ahead of the schedule and, most importantly, before the breakout of the storm. In spite of certain problems with the public address system, the well tailored musical frame for the shows and brief intervals gave the public a sense of harmony and a kind of resort-like relax. Given all that, the Sopot show has a potential to become a Polish equivalent of the events staged by Mediterranean and Arab countries, held in Menton in the French Riviera. However, for this to happen, the host should seek support of professional technical services. The ones hired this year did not make the grade. The mess with the communication of scores and final results for individual horses by the show master (announcer) and the waiting for the announcements could disorient even experienced Arabic horse show goers.
In addition, there was no score board (even a simple blackboard) or a score printing service, there were frequent delays in the announcement of scores of three or even four last horses and the show commentator (Anna Stojanowska) made impolite comments to rush handlers, ring steward and even the host. This aspect of the show was unprofessional, an obvious liability. The system of judging horses, a reasonable one, though never used in Poland for Arabian horses, raised a lot of controversy among the exhibitors. The system enables a complete horse evaluation based on the physical build and on movement rather just on the type and head. All in all, the approach did not work well. The evaluation of an Arab horse’s walk seems to be a misunderstanding. Many scores for this feature were very bad, which ultimately undercut the final scores.
The walk of a horse is easy to evaluate, provided that the animal is calm and relaxed, which can hardly be expected of a strongly stimulated horse that was scared with plastic bags and bottles just before entering the ring. In this scenario, the horse is tense, minces, makes shorter steps and often gets a “leg rush”, which makes accurate evaluation impossible. The scores in the show ranged from 84 to 90. This could be indicative of poor quality of the horses (which was not the case at all) or of a strict attitude of the raters. Breeders have become used to seeing high scores in the recent years, so they were surprised by the system proposed in Sopot, including the evaluation of the neck, shoulder blade, front legs, rear legs and the walk. In spite of that, the order of horses within classes and, next, within champion groups, did not raise any major controversy.
Apart from the outstanding Persia Touch SW (ex Alihandro-Princess Touch), the mare that won in older mare class 3A, in the Older Mare Championship and, then, by the audience’s choice, the “Best in Show” title, other horses were peers of a very good posture and they were presented calmly and professionally by their attendants and also by their owners and breeders. The breeders who brought their best horses – Piotr Podgórny with an interesting stock of offspring of stallion Kahil Al Shaqab, Jan Głowacki with the offspring of stallion Morion, Waldemar Bąk with a stock by Wadee Al Shaqab and PPH Parys Ltd with a stallion by Empire – had good reasons for satisfaction: their horses won medals and awards. The Sopot show was certainly very rewarding for the Suweco Stud owned by Nina Suskiewiczowa whose mares won the gold medal and the “Best in Show” title (Persia Touch SW) and the bronze medal in the older mare class (Ebora). The Janów Podlaski Stud left the seaside show with the gold medal in the younger mare class (Efidenia),
the silver medal in the older mare class (Tacjana) and the silver medal in the older stallion class (Pitawal). The horses of Waldemar Bąk won the gold medal in the one-year-old stallion class (Vinci) and the silver medal in the younger mare class (Westuria). PPH Parys Ltd won the gold medal in the younger stallion class (Bachmat PA). Piotr Podgórny won the gold medal in the one-year-old mare class (Emersilla M) and the bronze medal in the younger mare class (Eskahila). On the host’s side, Mateusz Tokarski, a young and very ambitious announcer from Janów Podlaski, was nominated the best handler of the show.
The spontaneous cheers for winners, the casual atmosphere the committed host, the sunny weather and the friendly, spacious and green Hippodrome give hope that Sopot, recognized as the summer capital of the Polish equestrianism and horse races, will settle for longer also in the Polish calendar of Arabian events.
Gold Champion: Emersila M (Kahil Al Shaqab – Emerosa), bred&owned by Piotr Podgórny
Silver Champion: Nuzht Al Khalediah (Morion – Najat Al Khalediah), bred&owned by AKF Polska
Bronze Champion: Esperana (Morion – Elerta), bred&owned by Jan Głowacki
Gold Champion: Vinci (Wadee Al Shaqab – Valencia Al Shaqab), bred&owned by Waldemar Bąk
Silver Champion: Kapitano AF (RFI Farid – Karbona), bred&owned by Krzysztof Falba
Bronze Champion: Panderos (Morion – Pretty Woman), bred&owned by Jan Głowacki
Gold Champion: Efidenia (Pomian – El Fada), nred&owned by Stadnina Koni Janów Podlaski
Silver Champion: Westuria (Wadee Al Shaqab – Westura), bred&owned by Waldemar Bąk
Bronze Champion: Eskahila (Kahil Al Shaqab – Espanera), bred&owned by Piotr Podgórny
Gold Champion: Bachmat PA (Empire – Begonia), bred&woned by PPH Parys Ltd.
Silver Champion: Wolare (RFI Farid – Wieża Marii), bred by Wojciech Parczewski, owned by Sławomir Bubas
Bronze Champion: Pentarion (Medalion – Pernata), bred&owned by Stadnina Koni Białka
Gold Champion: Persia Touch SW (EKS Alihandro – Princess Touch W), bred&owned by Suweco Stud
Silver Champion: Tacjana (Ascott DD – Tartina), bred&owned by Stadnina Koni Janów Podlaski
Bronze Champion: Ebora (Ekstern – Eberia), bred by Stadnina Koni Michałów, owned by Suweco Stud
Gold Champion: El Shaad (Fa El Shawan – El Estrada), bred by Józef Pietrzak, owned by Adam Lacher
Silver Champion: Pitawal (Kahil Al Shaqab – Pepita), bred&owned by Stadnina Koni Janów Podlaski
Bronze Champion: Psyche Ull (Forteynas Magic – Psyche Victoria), bred&owned by Stadnina Koni Chrcynno-Pałac