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A journey to heaven – a coverage from Saudi Arabia
Author: Alicja Poszepczyńska | 2008-01-31 | Print
The first show of the season took place in mid January – the Al Khalediah First International Arabian Horse Show (B), organized as part of the Al Khalediah Arabian Horse Festival in the heart of the Arabian peninsula, about 100 km from Riyadh. His Royal Highness Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud invited a group from Poland to participate in the show. The organizer covered the costs of transportatiom, as well as funded the flight for two owners, a trainer and groom and accommodation in the hotels. A very high standard provided for the guests placed everyone in good moods from the very start!

The first day of the Festival saw the horse auction, which took place on the beautiful racetrack on the Al Khalediah Farm, on the grassy paddock where horses are presented before the race. There were no great show stars of Al Khalediah Farm in the auction catalogue (66 lots). Despite an average quality of the offered horses (mostly stallions – often probably future geldings), the auction turned out unexpectedly well. The bidding was conducted in Saudi Riyals (1,53 SAR = 1 PLN, 1 euro = 3,6 PLN). The prices for the sold horses were three, four times higher than those achieved for similar quality animals in Poland! Unfortunately horses with Polish accents in their pedigrees did not achieve high prices.

The guests were treated to snacks, sweets, traditional Arabian coffee, sweet tea and peppermint. Observers could watch the auction sitting in comfortable, plush chairs set outside or inside the luxurious pavilion. An extremey low temperature – not much above zero – caused only the hardiest to sit outside.

Planned for the second day were four races on the well maintained, embedded with flowers sandy racetrack, with a lake in the middle and swans swimmimg in it. Looking at the desert around it was easy to appreciate the enormous labor that went into this facility! The first race over the longest distance of 1800 m was meant for imported pure bred Arabians, 5 year old and up, the second (1600 m) for domestic bred Arabians, 4 years old and up, the third (1200 m) for three year olds also of domestic breeding, while the fourth (1600 m) for Saudi Arabians, the so-called Pure Desert Breed Horses. The prize money in all the races was the same – the pool amounted to 100,000 SAR with 45,000, 25,000, 16,000, 8,000 and 6,000 SAR for the owner of the first, second, third, fourth and fifth horse respectively.

The first race was won surely by the mare BINT BU DHABI, second was BARIQ AL SAYF, third AL NASSE AL WAHEEK.

After the decoration came a special show by the Al Khalediah owned World Champions and Reserve Champions from Paris 2007: LAYAN AL KHALEDIAH (by Dakharo), MARQUIS CAHR (by Marwan A Shaqab) and DAKHARO (by Dakar El Jamaal), which was a sort of clash: it showed how different Arabian horse can be. The horses that participated in the races usually did not resemble the Arabian breed at all.

In the second race the first three places were easily taken by horses from Al Khalediah Stables: NASHWAN AL KHALIDIAH (1), JALEELAT AL KHALEDIAH (2) and SABBAQ KHALIDIAH (3). In the third race the well-looking representative of the hosts NAYEF AL KHALIDIAH finished the race at the second spot. First came SHDAD AL THALITH, third – SHAMEKH MOZFER. The fourth race was once again taken by Al Khalediah Stabes – first came MANSOUR EL BIWABIYA, second – MUZHILAT AL KHALIDIAH and third – BINT OBEYAT AL KHALIDIAH.

In the evening the invited guests had the pleasure of participating in an elegant dinner in a pavillion situated in an idyllic park located on the enormous estate of His Royal Highness Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The pavillion is tapestried from the outside with fabric and there are plenty of references to a traditional Arabian tent inside. The huge glass windows allow to look at a panoramic view of the meadow and lake, as well as an illuminated fountain. In front of the building graze antilopes, zebras, giraffes. You can walk out to them, as they are tamed. It looks like an animal lover’s dream… The ever-present splendor and exquisite details of the interior would be tacky in Europe, but here, gathered in one place, they make a huge impression.

The next day was scheduled for the show. Poland was represented by three horses which as it would turn out soon, would make a stand at battling it out for the highest trophies: PSYCHE VICTORIA, bred and owned by Chrcynno Pałac Stud, ALTIS, bred and owned by Falborek Arabians and PIANISSIMA, bred and owned by Janów Podlaski Stud. The catalogue also listed: ESPARTO – representing Ajman Stud, EMILIUSZ – owned by Liezl Els, Agmal Arabians and FERNANDO of Turban Stud. Among this group only PSYCHE VICTORIA and ESPARTO, under a foreign flag, could boast full Polish pedigrees, that is they had both the sire and dam originating from Poland.

The yearling fillies class was divided. Series A was won with a score of 91,25 points by decisively the best SARA AL MOHAMADIAH (USA) by Marwan AL Shaqab, owned by HH P. Abdullah Bin Fahad Bin Abdullah Al Saud. Second, with a score of 90,25, came another mare from the same owner: JAWHARAT AL MOHAMMADIAH (SA) by Farres. Third – AL ANOOD (SA) with a mark of 89,75, a typey bay daughter of Psytadel, bred and owned by King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz and his sons.

The poorly cast series B of the yearlings class was won by the royal BINT NAJD (SA) by Koronec with a low note of 89,25. Second – AL ARYAM NOJOOM by Enzo from the United Arab Emirates, owned by Al Aryam Arabians, gained 88,75 points, third – SALMA AL MOHAMMADIAH (SA) by Farres – scored 88,5.

The class of two year old fillies was also divided. In the first series three fillies achived a score of 90,25! The winner was BALLERINA BVA (USA) by Ames Charisma, another horse property of HH P. Abdullah Bin Fahad Abdullah Al Saud. Second came the pleasant daughter of Aja Sangali – ASEEFAT AL KHALIDIAH (SA) bred and owned by the host of the event, third – the very mature SWEET CAROLINE LL (USA) by Legacy of Fame Moon OA, owned by Ajman Stud.

In series 2B all the rivals were bested by the excellently performing PSYCHE VICTORIA by Ekstern from Chrcynno Pałac Stud with a total score of 90,5 points. Behind her, with a score of 90,25, placed the Brazilian bred SOPHIE EL POWER JQ by Power World JQ, owned by Az. Agr. Tripodi, who unfortunately has a trait which disables her from achieving the highest laurels: ears set on the sides at a funny angle. Third, with the same score as the previous filly, came the property of W. & A. Norden, Lonhult Araberstut – ARTIC EL AMINA (SWE) by El Amin, granddaughter of Psytadel, another interesting product of this „factory“.

In the three year old fillies class the best proved to be the already known from European rings FS CAYENNE by A.S. Natsir-Apal, owned by Ajman Stud – with 92,50. Further places were taken by NOWARAT AL KHALIDIAH (USA) by Marwan Al Shaqab, owned by the host – with 91,75 and MARYLLA (SWE) by Gazal Al Shaqab (sister to the famous MAGORA), owned by Sheikh Abdul Mohsen bin Abdulmalik Al Sheikh – with 91,25.

Only half of the 16 entered yearling colts showed up on the ring. With a large point advantage (91) won the royal NUMAS AL THANI (SA) by Sabea Al Sahraa Anapurna. Second, with a score of 89,75, was another offspring of the superb sire Marwan Al Shaqab – NAIF AL MOHAMMADIAH (USA), owned by HH Prince Abdullah Bin Fahad Bin Abdullah Al Saud. Ending his performance at the third spot (87,75) was the well-prepared NAYEF AL SHAQAB (Q) owned by Mohammed Abdul Rahman Al Yousef from Saudi Arabia.

The class of the two year old colts was divided into two series. Stars known from the European rings: HYPNOTIC IBN ETERNITY (90 pts) by Eternity Ibn Navarrone-D and AJA SANDSTORM (89 pts) by Psytadel had to make way before ATAA Al KHALIDIAH (SA) by Aja Sangali (91 pt), bred and owned by the host.

In series B the „race“ was led „from start to finish“ by the Polish ALTIS by WH Justice, bred and owned by Falborek Arabians. He gained 90,75 points, including 2 x 20 for movement. Second, with a score of 89,75 was SAQER AL SHQAYIR (SA) by F. Shamaal, bred and owned by Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Bin Abdulmalik Al Sheikh. Third (with 88 pts) – FAWAZ AL MOHAMMADIAH (SA) by Shakaar Ibn Sanadiva.

Many people awaited the small group of the three year old colts. It starred the highly promoted, purchased for an enormous sum by Paul Gheysens (Belgium) QR MARC (USA) by Marwan Al Shaqab. He is a colt with a beautiful, chiseled head and neck (he received 5 x 20 – two for type and three for head and neck), but also with a poor left fore hoof, which might have an affect on his breeding career. He gained a total score of 92,75 – the same as his well-known half brother on the spear side BAANDEROS (USA), owned by the host. QR MARC bested his rival with better notes for type. BAANDEROS changed for the better, growing into a mature and robust horse. Behind them, with a much lower score of 89,25, placed WATHIQ AL KHALEDIAH (SA), a decent son of Thee Ricochet, who lacks a bit of Arabian beauty.

The group of 4-6 year old mares was divided into two series. The first was won with a score of 92,5 points by the pleasant daughter of Khidar – BILKIS BEGUM (E), owned by the host. Second came the performance-loving PORCELAINNA (USA) by Psytadel, known to all show passionates, with a score of 91,25 points. The owner of this mare is Anjuli Bethell from Great Britain. Third place (with a score of 90,25) was taken by LLAYLA (BR) by El Nabila B, owned by the host.

The second series – which was not difficult to predict – was easily won by the daughter of Gazal Al Shaqab – PIANISSIMA from Janów Podlaski Stud. She received the highest score of the show: 94 points, including four 20s for type and head and neck. Behind her, with a score of 91 points, came the daughter of Galba, LAHA AL KHALEDIAH (SA), who has a somewhat long body. The next mare (also with a poor body) was R.S. BANAFSAJ (UAE) by Maleik El Kheil, owned by Al Aryam Arabians, with a total mark of 90,50 points.

The class of 7-9 year old mares was won by the favorite – the bay EAGLERIDGE PASSIONATA (AUS) with a score of 92,75, owned by Ajman Stud (UAE). Behind her came: KHARELLE (USA) by Dakar El Jamaal, owned by HRH Prince Fahad Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (91,75) and LOREDANA K (BR) by Borsalino K, owned by the host (90,75 points).

In the senior mares class, which opened the fourth day of the festival, only 5 horses competed. None surpassed the 90 point mark. 89,50 points gained by MADINAH BINT SAARIYAH (UK) by Imperial Madheen, owned by Khalid Saad Al Haddad, was enough to win this class. Behind her came: the royal MIRA NAIR (D) by Kubinec (89), a bit on the fat side, next – LOVINS KHISS (USA) by Khadraj (88), owned by Waheeb Omer Abdullah Bawazeer. All three performed under the flag of Saudi Arabia.

The 4-6 year old stallions class was won by Michałów’s ESPARTO (91,75) by Ekstern representing Ajman Stud. The second and third horse had the same total score – 90,75, but higher notes for type were handed to AL MILAN (D) by Al Lahab, owned by Sax Arabians. The unlucky loser was BS PAPARAZZI (D) by Kar Papageno, owned by Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Bin Abdulmalik Al Sheikh (KSA).

The refined, a bit feminine son of Laheeb – EMILIUSZ (PL) – won the 7-9 year old stallions class. Behind him, bearing the colors of Saudi Arabia, placed: MANKIND (USA) by Jullyen El Jamaal (90,25) and HAMRAS AKID (D) by Ali Valentino (90), owned by HH P. Abdullah Bin Fahad Bin Abdullah Al Saud.

The rivals from the senior stallions class, thanks to 20s for type, head and neck, as well as movement, with a score of 92,25, were bested by the stallion of the King of Saudi Arabia – PADRONS IMMAGE (FR) by Padrons Psyche. Second (with a score of 91,25) was the Michałów bred FERNANDO, representing Turban Sud. Half brother to the winner on the spear side – SHAFE PSUEDE (USA), owned by the host, received 90,5 points, which gave him a third place in this class.

Classes 13, 14, 15 and 16 were meant for Arabians of desert breeding from Saudi Arabia. These horses do not resemble modern Arabian showhorses. They have a straight head profile and often slanting hindquarters. However this group is a stictly protected genetic pool, which might prove useful in the future.

After a special show of dancing horses combined with the Sponsors Parade came time for the Championships, which were observed by His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

A surprise was the awarding of the title of Junior Champion Mare to the yearling filly SARA AL MOHAMADIAH. The favorite (in terms of score points) – FS CAYENNE had to settle for the title of Reserve. The results of the other Championships were not a surprise to people following Arabian horse shows. QR MARC became Junior Champion Stallion, BAANDEROS – Junior Reserve Champion Stallion. The Senior Mare Championship was won by PIANISSIMA, while the Reserve went to EAGLERIDGE PASSIONATA. The title of Senior Champion Stallion was awarded to the 14 year old PADRONS IMMAGE and the Reserve – to ESPARTO.

Besides the honorary awards there were also prizes, including high quality watches for a first place in a given class and luxurious cars for the champions and winners of the desert-bred classes. The Saudi orchestra, who played also during the race day, performed anthems of the winning countries.

For dessert – a pompous party was thrown with a short concert by a Lebanese singer atop a galloping horse, theatre scenes, a light show, a horse in the smoke, baloons flying and lying on the ground (as it turned out – to be able to step on them) and finally – fireworks. The crowd of spectators was hugely moved by this impressive spectacle.

The clashing of cultures, but definitely the same passion – this thought comes to mind when summing up this adventure. The invited people from the non-Arabian world got to know the splendor, luxury and comfort. Buses were driving all the time, so that no one’s legs would hurt. The women were presented with and asked to wear traditional, black, ornamented „abayas“ in public places (it was not necessary on the farm), because there are severe punishments for showing the head and ankles. During the show everyday there were three breaks for a prayer. Nobody rushed, there was plenty of time between classes. Everything was carried out in a calm manner.

Less polite was the fact that all guests were scanned about a dozen times, also their hand baggage was checked everyday. The Saudi airport held a record in this „discipline“ – three times scanned and searched and a disinfection in the plane! Although this is for security reasons, such thorough examination is a hassle for travelers.

However without a doubt for many of us it was a first occasion to visit this beautiful, desert country, the cradle of the Arabian horse. It turned out to be an unforgettable experience.

See also more pictures by Erwin Escher in our photo gallery from the Al Khalediah Show

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