January 25 – 27, 2017
photos © PSAIAHF
The Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz International Arabian Horse Festival has, in years past, been a five-day affair held in late January. This year’s schedule, however, was shortened to three days by excluding the flat and endurance racing events. Often referred to as the “Al Khalediah Show,” the festival is named as a tribute to the late Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz al Saud, father of HRH Prince Sultan Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. It is the first of four title shows governed by the European Conference of Arab Horse Organizations (ECAHO) and marks the start of a whirlwind season for breeders and exhibitors. The four additional title shows include the World Championships, Paris, France; All Nations Cup, Aachen, Germany; European Championships, Janów Podlaski, Poland; and the Middle East Championships, Amman, Jordan.
The Festival is held at the Al Khalediah Farm, in the village of Tebrak owned by HRH Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The farm is a 44,000-acre oasis that emerges from the desert sands and is surrounded by rocky mountain peaks.
While the first two days of qualifying classes boasted some extraordinary horses, the yearling fillies started the Championship classes, and a refined bay beauty Ghadeer AM (AJ Mardan x Ghazalat Al Mohamadia), emerged as the Gold winner. Bred and owned by Al Mohamadia Stud, manager Bruce McCrea could not have been more thrilled. “We are excited that she is now part of the Ajman team and look forward to watching and supporting her. She was amazing in her Gold Championship win and I’m sure there will be many more in her future. Love her!”
The influence of Emerald J (QR Marc x Emandoria) dominated the show — he sired both the Silver and Bronze winners, Badawia Al Muawd (x Mistilll Al Muawd), and Dhai Alsakab (x WA Ppriscilla), respectively, both bred and owned by Al Muawd Stud. His powers did not end with the fillies, however. The Gold Champion Yearling Colt was his son General (x ES Mahbuba), owned by the sons of Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Subaie’s Al Muawd Stud, and Bronze was another son, Sultan Alenaya (x Ammona), owned by Tarig bin Mohammed E. Enaya. Edging out the Emerald J colts for the Silver award was Raad Alsayed (EKS Alihandro x Nuzyrma Dinn SA), for breeder and owner Al Sayed Stud.
Kanz Albidayer (Ajman Moniscione x DL Marielle) also sired a Gold Champion — his daughter Mayar IV (x Abha Qawatin), who won in the Junior Mare Championship, bred by Ali bin Hussain bin Ali Smaa and owned by Al Muawd Stud. Ajman Stud owned the Silver winner Aja Carrera (ZT Marwteyn x Aja Carina), bred by M. Hickford. Al Muawd was back in the medals with the Bronze winner Bourhani Sharifa (Ajman Moniscione x Psynesica), bred by Hannelone Bowdeanx.
Always full of thrilling amounts of energy and charisma are the young boys in the Junior Stallion Championship. Gold was EOS Apollo (Lawrence El Gazal x Annou El Woutan), who is a very nice and structurally correct colt. He was bred by Kathrin Hampe-Klingebiel and is owned by Faisal I. Alibrahim. EKS Alihandro scored another medal with his Silver son Gabel Athbah (EKS Alihandro x Meqbilat Athbah), bred and owned by Athbah Stud. Kanz Albidayer added to his list of winners with the Bronze AJ Bittal (x Eagleridge Passionata). Sometimes the stallions receive all the glory but let’s not leave out the power of a great mare. AJ Bittal’s dam, Eagleridge Passionata, is no stranger to the showring. This stunning, pure white mare actually took Gold honors in 2014 at this exact show. AJ Bittal is bred and owned by Ajman Stud.
The Senior Mare Championship is always a favorite. A show-stopper was the alabaster white mare Norma, who explodes into the arena with her huge trot. Sired by the legendary Gazal Al Shaqab and out of the Polish mare Wyborna, bred in Poland by Michalow Stud and is now proudly owned by Al Muawd Stud. “Showing a mare like Norma is what dreams are made of — surreal,” exclaims her trainer Ryan Jones of Al Muawd Stud. Taking Silver honors is a mare I have enjoyed following for years, OFW Ana, sired by the six-time U.S. National Champion Stallion DA Valentino and out of the great producing mare Hafati Julianna, who also happens to be the grandam of EKS Alihandro. OFW Ana was bred by Harold and Dolly Orr of Orrion Farms, and is owned by Al Rajhia Stud. Adding to her accolades as World Champion Filly, European Champion, and Scottsdale Supreme Champion Mare, to name just a few, Abha Palma (Marwan Al Shaqab x Abha Ghazali) took Bronze for breeder/owner Al Mohamadia Stud.
The Senior Stallion Championship was a highlight — with a father and son showdown between Emerald J (QR Marc x Emandoria), and his son Mansour Al Jalawiyah (x Gypsy Love NA). It was a greatly anticipated return to the arena for Emerald J and the judges awarded his impressive performance with Gold honors for breeder Christine Jamar and owner Al Muawd Stud. Mansour Al Jalawiyah held his own with a strong Silver for breeder Al Jalawiyah and owner HH Prince Salman bin Faisal and HH Prince Sultan bin Faisal bin Salman Al Saud. The bold, bay Polish-bred stallion Girlan-Bey (Pesal x Gracja-Bis), a constantly strong competitor, took the Bronze for breeder Michal Bogajewicz and owner Al Washem Stud
Keeping with the tradition of previous years, the show closed with a brilliant display of Arabic pageantry. Next we loaded into vehicles for a short jaunt to Athbah Stud, owned by HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, where festivities continued. The barn lights glimmered in the dark night sky, and beautifully crafted Arabic tents, roaring fires, a staging area with more traditional drums and dancing, all made for a nostalgic scene. We were all in for a special treat with the presentation of the “Untamed One,” EKS Alihandro, the reigning World Champion Stallion, coming out to a packed audience. He looked magnificent, with his longtime handler Giacomo Capacci on the lead.
The following evening guests visited Milad Equestrian Center, owned by Nasir Alfozan. Milad is a state-of-the-art training and reproduction center. Some clients include Khaled Al Sayed, Hamad Al Rajhi, Al Marri Stud and Al Sadeem Stud, to name just a few. The stage area is impressive, with stadium-style seating in front of the preview area backed by a large display screen. The lineup of horses to be presented was of star quality with names like Eden C, Alexxander, Abha Qatar and other notable champions. An amazing Arabic feast fit for royalty followed the presentation. More fires flared and Arabic singing and dancing went on late into the night. Finally we had to say our good-byes as another unforgettable experience came to an end.