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
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
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
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.