Qatar Festival of the Horse 2002
by Liz Salmon

This 11th annual event was held at the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club on March 2nd-4th. The Gulf States are such wonderful countries to visit, as they are very safe, clean and incredibly hospitable and friendly.Qatar is certainly no exception. Since our last visit, the attractive city of Doha had exploded with imaginative and colourful new buildings and sculptures. It has become a lovely city to explore, and of course we had to visit the fascinating souqs. We arrived late on February 28th, and had all the next day until the afternoon to unwind and relax, not difficult in that hotel. At about 4pm we were loaded onto the buses to attend the opening ceremonies at the showground.

We arrived to the strains of the Doha Pipe Band, smartly dressed in their maroon and white uniforms the colours of the National flag, playing for the dignitaries present. Soon horses and riders appeared, one with a falcon on his arm what a colourful spectacle. From the far corner of the ring came dancers brandishing swords and beating large tambourines. The horse with the falcon aboard tried to take off bucking, and at one stage it looked as if the rider and bird would end up on the ground, but fortunately they both survived on top of the horse.

The next morning at 8am we again were taken out to the showground for the start of the show. Over 150 horses were entered from all over the Middle East Bahrain, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. After the first few classes my breath had been taken away by the wonderful quality of the horses. When we were last in Qatar, the horses shown were mostly imports, now we were seeing the results of their breeding programmes. I have to say that there were some of the finest Straight Egyptians that I have seen or judged anywhere in the world. The five judges came from four different countries Ingalill Martensson (Spain), Marianne Tengstedt (Denmark), Ferdinand Huemer (Austria) Walter Koch and Dr. Siegfried Paufler, both from Germany. Doug Dahmen from the USA was listed to judge, but was not present.

The classes started with two sections of yearling fillies. Both sections were fairly small, but had some lovely entries. The winner of the first section was a very attractive Koronec daughter Kariemat Khair out of Silvesta, she had a lot of presence and moved well to score 89.3. She is owned and bred by The King Abdulaziz Arabian Horse Centre of Saudi Arabia. The second section produced the most exotic winner with a score of 88.6. I know she caught my eye in a big way, with her type, presence and femininity. This was Johara Al Naif (Ansata Shalim x Al Johara) owned and bred by Sheikh Abdulla Bin Nasser Al Ahmed Al Thani of Qatar.

The two classes of two year olds were not in my opinion quite so good, but the winner in Section A with a score of 90, was certainly up to a high standard of type, as she had a beautiful head and good body and topline. This was Al Angha Al Rayyan (Alidaar x Ansata Majesta) owned and bred by Al Rayyan Stud of Qatar. Second with a score of 89.3 was the German bred filly Silver's Najdiah (Nadir 1 x Silver's Surprise) a typey good moving filly bred by Rheinhard Sax and owned by Crown Prince Abdulla Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia.

The senior two year olds was an excellent class, with the winner Dana Al Rayyan (Alidaar x Ansata Samria) scoring 90.3. Again owned and bred by Al Rayyan, she was very typey, with a good body and topline, and she moved well.

Following this class there was a break for prayers and then lunch. This was a delicious and grand buffet style lunch for everyone attending the show, held on a covered patio overlooking the showground. The three year olds were very impressive, it was a largest and the best class of the fillies with some exquisite entries. A high score of 91 was achieved by one of the few bays in the show. She was Hathfa Al Shaqab by Al Adeed Al Shaqab out of the past US Nationals Champion mare Kajora, a beautiful filly with an excellent body and topline. Owned by Al Shaqab Stud of Qatar.

Champion Filly: Johara Al Naif

Following the fillies came the boys. The first class of Junior yearling colts contained some really good entries with plenty of type, presence and movement. The winner here with a score of 90.6 was exquisite Sajem Al Naif (Ansata Shalim x Sobha Al Shaqab) owned and bred by Sheikh Abdulla Bin Nasser Al Ahmed Al Thani. He had it all, type, conformation and he scored all 19 s for movement.

The Senior yearling colts was also a fabulous class. Winning here with 91 was Suhal Al Nasser (Ashhal Al Rayyan x Konouz) a great fronted and typey horse with a lovely head. The two year old colt class was quite a good one, but was a little mixed in content. Most however, were of a high standard. Sheikh Abdulla Bin Nasser Al Ahmed Al Thani again bred the winner of this one. He was Jandeh Al Naif (Ansata Shalim x Ansata Nile Gypsy) a very impressive, exotic colt with great movement and presence, who scored 91. Six good moving colts came under the judges in the three old colt class. The winner was simply stunning, not only being very typey, but he moved extremely well too. This was Ansata Selman (Ansata Hejazi x G Shafaria) bred by Don and Judi Forbis of the USA and owned Al Rayyan. He scored a whopping 92.3.

Champion Colt: Ansata Selman

So ended the first day that apart from being unusually chilly was immensely enjoyable. We all returned to the hotel for another wonderful buffet dinner. The next day promised to be a bit warmer, and the sun eventually appeared thankfully, so by the end of the morning, we had shed jackets.

The first class was for mares aged 4 to 6 years old. It was a lovely class of twelve mares all gaining excellent scores none below 83 points. The winner Amirat Al Shaqab (Al Adeed Al Shaqab x Imperial Phanilah) was quite breath taking. With such illustrious parents, how could she miss. Her exquisite refinement and type coupled with an excellent body and great movement scored her 92.6. She was owned and bred by Al Shaqab. This was a feast for the eyes, as was the next class of mares aged seven to ten years. All were grey except one, and although a smaller class it was no less impressive. Al Shaqab scored a win here with Kamasayyah (Imperial Al Kamar x Sundar Alisayyah) a typey, elegant mare with lots of presence and a good topline. She scored 91.3 points.

The final mare class was for ages eleven and over. This was an excellent small class too. Having just attended the Scottsdale show where the mares were so disappointing, these classes really lifted my spirits about the breed. Ansata Nefer Isis (Prince Fa Moniet x Ansata Nefertiti) was one of the most beautiful and ethereal mares I ve ever seen. She scored all 20 s for type and four 20 s and a19 for movement to end up with a score of 94 what a mare. She was actually sold to Italy from the USA, and then to Al Rayyan. She was bred of course by Don and Judi Forbis.

Champion Mare: Amirat Al Shaqab

Now for the two classes of stallions. As with all horses shown under the European system, they flew in bouncing and showing off to each other. The first class for four to six year olds was an excellent one. Outstanding, is how I would describe this typey, exotic headed winner with a score of 90.6. This was Ashhal Al Rayyan (Safir x Ansata Majesta) owned and bred by Al Rayyan.

The final class of stallions was small, but excellent with some well known past European winners such as Koronec and BJ Thee Mustafa. However, it was the amazingly beautiful and outstanding stallion Al Adeed Al Shaqab (Ansata Halim Shah x Sundar Alisayyah) owned and bred by Al Shaqab who took the class with the highest score of the show an incredible 95.3 and he deserved it.

Champion Stallion: Al Adeed Al Shaqab

After another wonderful lunch, we returned to our seats to watch the Championships. The fillies were in first, and I must say that I couldn't take my eyes off the yearling Johara Al Naif, so I was not surprised when she was announced as the Champion. Reserve Champion was the bay three year old Hathfa Al Shaqab shown by Michael Byatt. I also picked the colt Champion Ansata Selman to win. Reserve to him was Jandeh Al Naif. Both lovely colts by anyone's standard. The sight of the six mares coming in for their Championship was very exciting I would have taken any of them home !! Emerging as Champion was Amirat Al Shaqab with Michael Byatt at the lead. Reserve was Ansata Nefer Isis shown by Bart Buggenhout. It would have been hard for me to choose, and I might well have reversed that decision had I been judging who's to say. I certainly agreed with the judges on the stallion Champion Al Adeed Al Shaqab shown by Michael an extremely worthy winner, as was the Reserve Champion Ashhal Al Rayyan shown by Bart.

We then piled back in to the buses for the hotel to get ready for an evening at Al Rayyan Stud kindly hosted by Sheikh Abdulaziz Bin Khalid Al Thani. As it was chilly when the sun went down, we put on a few more layers of clothes as it was to be outside.

The parade of horses with the commentary by Judi Forbis under the floodlights was wonderful to watch. Some of the new foals played up to the audience. The Straight Egyptian breeding programme is very much based on Ansata horses and other US imports. After the parade, we were treated to a feast of a sumptuous buffet under a marquee. The next day found us back at the showground for the final day of the show, the sun was out and it got quite hot.

The first class was for ridden stallions and geldings. This was quite a nice class judged in the British style, but without the horses being ridden. However, they had to give an individual show. The outstanding winner was the black stallion Taladdin (DWD Tabasco x Winnetka), whom I had not seen since he was a Junior World Champion in Paris. He looked phenomenal under saddle in the capable hands of British rider Sonya Fitch-Peyton. He is owned by HRH Crown Prince Abdulla Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and was bred by Donald WM Doessal of the USA.

The class for ridden mares was even better, it was lovely to watch. The winner an attractive bay mare Hadeel ( Ibn Noir Ami x Manal) had only been under saddle for a few months, but that was hard to tell, as she went so beautifully. The same rider Sonya Fitch-Peyton was aboard and the mare was also owned and bred by HRH Crown Prince Abdulla Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

The sire produce class was next on the agenda. Three groups entered the ring, the most even of which took the class. This was the Ansata Shalim (Ansata Halim Shah x Ansata Nefertiti) group of greys . Ansata Shalim was bred by Don & Judi Forbis and owned by Al Naif Stud.

The lunch break was kindly hosted at the Al Shaqab Stud by manager Sheikh Hamad Bin Ali Al Thani. A parade of horses entertained us after the usual feast of food. Here they have not only a Straight Egyptian programme, but other bloodlines too mostly based on US imports. Back on the showground after lunch, only two groups were forward for the mare produce. It was won by another lovely level group of youngsters out of Shalika (Ansata Halim Shah x Bint Hassema) bred by Robert Waddell of the USA and owned by Al Naif Stud. The most beautiful female head winner was the exotic and well proportioned head of Mezna Al Rayyan, while the male most beautiful head belonged to Wadim Ibn Sharkassow (Sharkesson x Walewska) bred by PAJB Arabians and owned by the King Abdulaziz Arabian Horse Center.

Finally, the last two classes were the liberty classes to music. There were huge entries and it went on well after it got dark. The winning mare gave an enthralling display this was the Polish Empressa (Probat x Emfaza) bred by the Michalow Stud and owned by Sheikh Abdulmohsen Al Alsheikh of Saudi Arabia. The stallion winner Ansata Nile Echo (Ansata Hejazi x Ansata White Nile) was also pretty spectacular and showed off well. He was bred by Don & Judi Forbis and owned by Al Naif Stud.

The next day was free until the late afternoon, so we took the opportunity to do some shopping in the gold souqs !! It s such fun bargaining for items. At 4pm we were back on the buses again for a visit to Al Naif Stud, which is about an hour s drive from Doha and is the newest of the major farms. Again he has based his programme on Ansata horses, and has already bred some superb foals, including this years filly Champion.

Upon arrival, we found large comfortable sofas and arm chairs for us to sit on around the area for the parade of horses. The horses were all in fabulous condition as they were at Al Rayyan. Of course there was the usual buffet dinner, this time held in the large horse swimming pool area.

After a wonderful week in this friendly country, we were reluctant to go home. The improvement in the horses after seven years was so obvious, they are breeding really great horses that look like true Arabians fitting for their desert surroundings. I know that we both hope to return in the near future, and I hope that more overseas visitors will take the opportunity to come next year.


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