The 2019 Mediterranean & Arab Countries Arabian Horse Championship: MENTON!
by Lisa Abraham
and sponsored by Al Shaqab Stud
The 2019 Mediterranean & Arab Countries Arabian Horse Championship took place on June 22 and 23 in Menton, France. The show, which is commonly referred to as “Menton”, featured the competition of over one hundred horses representing breeding programs and owners from all over the world. The city of Menton is part of the beautiful French Rivera and has been a popular resort destination for many decades. To the French, this region is known as Côte d'Azur, which translates to "Coast of Azure", and is located on the Mediterranean coastline along the southeast corner of France—right next to Italy. As a testament to its unique beauty, several of the world’s most influential artists felt great inspiration while spending time in this region of the world. From one side of the show arena there was the beautiful Mediterranean coast. Then from all other angles were the aged, colorful buildings which have been made famous in paintings and photographs. Without a doubt, this location is one of the most refreshing and beautiful venues for an Arabian horse show.
As a journalist, I find every show to be unique and with its own narrative. Last year in Paris, it was the story of love—as was perfect for the warmth of the upcoming holiday season and the romance of the sparkling city. In Dubai, it was the global influence of the United Arab Emirate breeders. But in Menton, it was one of excellent, innovative business. It has been said that success is in the details—well, that was absolutely the case, as not a single stone was left unturned. Despite not having the classification of an ECAHO (European Conference of Arab Horse Organizations) Title Show, Menton is one of the most important competitions in the Arabian horse world and certainly competes with the top tier shows in prestige. Although it is famous for its exotic venue, it is equally known for the quality of horses which have competed and how seriously its champions are considered. However, it is not an easy show in which to travel. Yet due to the thought and foresight of the organizers, year after year, people attend from every major continent with Arabian horses to both compete and spectate.
Although the business of Arabian horses operates at a very high level, for many in our community it is also a hobby and social activity. Shows are meant for the purpose of competition, but smart business dictates that they are not ignored as an entertainment source as well. For all the elements to work seamlessly, strategic cooperation is necessary as there are many layers of organization to be implemented—and skilled leadership is required to accomplish such endeavors. The Organizing Committee of the show was led by Jean-Pierre Chazel, the Show Manager; by Christianne Chazel, the Event Coordinator; and by Dominik Broit, the Show Assistant. Throughout the show, all three were ever present making sure everything was exactly as it was meant to be. Furthermore, they were supported by a staff who worked with heart-felt precision and equal diligence.
There have been many studies which have been focused on the benefits of recognition in the workplace. More and more companies are realizing the effectiveness of acknowledging accomplishment and incorporating this level of human relations into the structure of management. In fact, on LinkedIn, a Social Media platform dedicated to business and professional endeavors, there are regular lists, articles and discussions devoted to teaching the positive benefits of making others feel appreciated. As this event was concerned, I saw several examples of this in practice and feel certain these measures were deliberate.
To being with, at this point, most of the funding for shows, if not all, comes from sponsors—both from inside the business and from more corporate sources which are usually local or industry specific. Although it is standard at all shows to recognize sponsors and to express appreciation for their contributions, the organizers in Menton clearly understood how important it was to make sure this group received value for their investment with heightened visibility. First, along with the traditional sponsorship options, there were a few more opportunities for sponsors to contribute. Then for every opportunity that was sponsored, the recognition was very clear—both by the announcer and in the program.
There were also a nice variety of Special Awards which offered additional chances to be formally recognized for achievements in the show. These were chosen from both within the framework of the scoring, such as the “Most Beautiful Head” awards which were given to the horses with the highest score for HEAD in each Qualifying Class; and from outside the framework when horses could be chosen based on preference, such as the Special Awards for “Best in Show”, in which the judges could choose their preference. I particularly admired the “Coup de Coeur des VIP” and the “Willi Poth Award”. The recipient of “Coup de Coeur des VIP” was chosen by ballot, which was distributed throughout the VIP section. Each table got one vote in which they were to choose one Yearling or Junior Filly that they “loved at first sight”. In remembrance of Willi Poth who passed away earlier in the year, the show created this award to recognize the “most classic horse in the show” and its recipient was chosen by the Poth Family.
The vantage of the judges and the audience can be radically different. In the Qualifying Classes, the judges are restricted to the Standard as their measure of evaluation, while the audience is without restriction. Therefore, the audience can allow their perceptions to be affected by other factors including those that might be more emotional—which is a very legitimate aspect to our relationship with Arabians. Also, every horse competing in Menton is of the upper echelon in terms of quality—and all capable of shining in the right moment. These Special Awards, which were given based on the preferences outside of the actual scoring, were an excellent way to recognize outstanding horses who may not have fulfilled the requirements of the judges as compared to their peers on that day. For example, My Whos That Girl (Shanghai EA X Lady Prue), who was bred and is owned by My Arabians (ITA), was the recipient of the Willi Poth Award which was an exceptional acknowledgement considering she was not a medal winner.
Finally, another example would be the time dedicated to recognizing the hard work of the handlers. I felt this to be a brilliant move as cooperation from this group can exercise tremendous leverage in the overall enjoyment of a show. Although their skills play a major factor in how we perceive a horse, their professionalism can leave lasting reminders of a show. Furthermore, on the show administration level, their degree of willingness to adhere to rules can also factor into organization as it directly correlates to the level of responsibility that the Disciplinary Committee must enforce. On Championship day, the handlers were invited into the arena, were individually thanked by Christianne Chazel and Dominik Broit and given gifts. This was certainly a touching “extra step” and seemed to be appreciated by this very influential group.
Although horses enjoy more leisurely lives in our modern day, they have played a pivotal role in our development and ability to occupy this planet. Roughly 50,000 years ago the horse was initially a food source for early man—and in some parts of the world, this is still true. However, around 4000 BC, the horse began its transformation as a source of labor in a variety of tasks. Because of its ability to cover long distances with unmatched endurance, it was at this time that cultures became known to one another. As time passed, the roles that horses played in our development grew. And due to its versatility and ability to be domesticated, different cultures used horses for different purposes. For example, cultures which were nomadic used horses for transportation; while sedentary cultures used horses for driving and chore related activities. The theme of this year’s show was dedicated to the enormous contribution of our equine partners. In addition to the other Special Awards, there were four Horsepower Trophies given to those who earned the highest Qualifying Class score for MOVEMENT in each division: Junior Female (included the Yearlings), Senior Female, Junior Male (included the Yearlings) and Senior Male. Finally, the décor of the show took on this theme as well. On one side of the arena, artifacts and instruments used in the labor of horses were on display. The opposite end featured a spectacular sculpture of a race car depicting motor-horsepower--constructed with the traditional design components of oranges and lemons, for which this region is known.
In the early nineteen eighties, ECAHO was founded primarily for the purpose of creating a structure for Arabian horse competitions in Europe. However, an important aspect of consideration in this endeavor involved the safety of the horses, for which the Disciplinary Committee was created. Although this has served the European community well for many years, the subject seems to be approaching the forefront once again. In fact, at the 2018 All Nations Cup, Ursula Rahm of Switzerland was honored as the ANC Person of the Year. Although at the time of ECAHO’s inception, animal welfare was a concern shared by several, it was Mrs. Rahm who had been primarily credited for its prominence as a topic of interest. In Aachen, she boldly used her platform to express her thoughts as to whether these standards, which had been developed years ago, were being maintained.
Although enforcement procedures may vary, at this point, shows all over the world share many of the same ideologies as those within the ECAHO framework regarding animal welfare in the show arena. However, there are some show organizers who are taking additional steps in areas that are of special personal interest. This year in Menton, there were two new rules introduced for the Disciplinary Committee to enforce. The first prohibited the use of plastic bags both in the collection ring and in the show arena. The second addressed the size of the whips to be used by the handlers—they were to be no longer than 1 meter and 20 centimeters long. It is a credit to the organizers of this show for taking these measures and it is my personal hope that others adopt these regulations as well.
The Mediterranean & Arab Countries Arabian Horse Championship was an ECAHO Class A Show and was therefore subject to the rules of this governing organization. The Classes were juried by six out of seven judges with a rotation that was maintained class by class. Scoring was done on a scale from 1 to 20, which allowed for half points and evaluated the following: TYPE, HEAD & NECK (H & N), BODY, LEGS and MOVEMENT. For each category, both the highest and lowest scores were eliminated. In the event of a tie, the score for TYPE decided. If the TYPE score was also tied, then the MOVEMENT score decided. If this did not resolve the tie, then one judge, nominated by random ballot, was to choose the winner. The Championships were judged comparatively. In the instance of a tie, the horse with the highest Qualifying Class score prevailed. If the Qualifying Class scores were also tied, then the rules for resolving ties in the Qualifying Classes applied.
Judges: Vico Rocco (BRA), Anna Stojanowska (POL), Renata Schibler (CHE), Marianne Tengsted (DEN), Cristian Moschini (ITA) and Urs Aeschbacher (CHE)
The Yearling Championships featured some of the most promising youngsters in the Arabian horse world. Interestingly, the victors in each Championship were the youngest of the medal winners in their respective categories. The Yearling Filly Championship was particularly competitive as a total of seven fillies were chosen for medal honors—more so than in any other final category. However, with four of the six judges who chose her for Gold, My Vision AA (Jyar Meia LUA X The Vision MG), who was bred by Ariela Arabian Farm (ISR) and is owned by Albaydaa Farm (EGY), prevailed. Also, with a birthdate of June 8, 2018, My Vision AA was the youngest of all Champions.
The Silver Medal was earned by D Shamkhah (FA El Rasheem X FT Shaella) who was bred and is owned by Dubai Arabian Horse Stud (UAE). With an averaged Qualifying Class score of 91.38 and a TYPE score of 19.5, D Shamkhah tied for the highscore among all yearlings in both of these categories. In addition, D Shamkhah earned the Coup de Coeur VIP Special Award. Finally, both My Vision AA and D Shamkhah were their Qualifying Class winners.
The competition for the Bronze medal was an excellent illustration of just how strong this group of fillies were. Although it started out as a three-way tie which included FAM Donatella and HDM Bella Ciao, due to her averaged Qualification Class scores of 19.5 in TYPE and 19.38 in MOVEMENT, it was Royal Asselah who ultimately won this final medal. Royal Asselah (Royal Asad X R Arabella) was bred by Eric & Karen England (USA) and is owned by Nesma Stud (KSA). Both Siwar Al Shaqab and D A’Asaleyyah were also chosen for medals, while Siwar Al Sahqab (SMA Magic One X Abha Myra), who was bred and is owned by Al Shaqab Stud (QAT), was additionally recognized with the Special Award for Best Arabian Horse Type for Yearling Fillies.
It was interesting to note that in the Yearling Colt Championship, all three medal winners were born within 20 days of each other. Although horses age differently, as yearlings, even a month or two can make a noticeable difference in physical maturity creating advantages in perception. Ultimately, the Yearling Colt Gold Champion was D Mezyan (FA El Rasheem X D Mazaia), who was bred and is owned by Dubai Arabian Horse Stud (UAE). D Mezyan, who was his Qualifying Class winner, also earned the Special Award for Best Arabian Horse Type for Yearling Males. Furthermore, with a score 92.13, which was shared with Yearling Filly D Shamhkhah, he earned the highest Qualifying Class score in this overall age division. The Silver Champion, who performed with great charisma, was Zuhayr Al Shaqab (SMA Magic One X Kahlah Al Shaqab) and was bred and is owned by Al Shaqab Stud. Finally, the Bronze went to Dosar Alsayed (Validoro X Delight’s Diva RB). With a Qualifying Class score of 19.75 for MOVEMENT, Dosar Alsayed was also recognized with the Horsepower Award for Junior Males. Additional Yearling Colts chosen for medals were D Shakhat and Ghaali. Yearling Colt Mahasin De Cartherey was given the Special Award for Best French Horse. Mahasin De Cartherey (R’Adjah De Cartherey X Wasi’ha De Cartherey) was bred and is owned by Mrs C. Rigat/De Cartherey Arabians (FRA).
The Junior Filly Championship was also deeply competitive as all three medal winners earned five 20’s in their Qualifying Classes and each was chosen for Gold by at least one judge. Also, as an overall testament to the quality in this Championship, the Junior Filly Champions earned more 20’s, by a significant margin, than any of the other younger divisions of Champions. But on this day, it was D Shihanah (FA El Rasheem X D Shahla), a 2017 filly who earned the top honor. D Shihanah (FA El Rasheem X D Shahla), who was bred and is owned by Dubai Arabian Horse Stud, also received the Special Award for Best Arabian Horse Type for Junior Females. In her Qualifying Class, D Shihanah earned two 20’s for TYPE and three for H & N. The Silver went to Eralda (Emerald J X Enezja) who was bred by Falborek Arabians (POL) and is owned by Al Shiraa Stables (UAE). Of the three Junior Mare Champions, Eralda, a 2016 filly, was the only one to prevail as her Qualifying Class winner in which she was awarded one 20 for TYPE and four for H & N. While the Bronze was earned by the youngest of the three Junior Filly Champions, Algamra (AJ Portofino X AVA Maryia), a 2017 filly who was bred by Dr. Hugh & Alexandra Hodsman (USA) and is owned by Al Sheikh Stud (ISR). In her Qualifying Class, Algamra was awarded two 20’s for TYPE and three for H & N. Additional Junior Fillies chosen for medals included: Jasmeenah Aljassimya and Encarina. With a Qualifying Class score of 19.88 for MOVEMENT, Encarina (Ascot DD X Emeria), a 2017 filly who was bred and is owned by SK Janow Podlaski (POL), also earned the Horsepower Award for Junior Females and was her Qualifying Class winner.
To illustrate the prestige of the Menton show, the Junior Colt Championship featured a repeat of the thrilling showdown at the 2017 World Championship. That year, HL El Ganador, who had been the Yearling Colt Gold Champion at the 2017 All Nations Cup, was considered to be the favorite going into Paris. However, Figaro, who was being shown for the very first time, narrowly prevailed as the World Gold Champion. Now in Menton, as Junior Colts, they met again—and of the six judges, each earned top placement by three. But this time, it was HL El Ganador (HP Shakir TE X Lonco Bay Maria) who prevailed. HL El Ganador, who was bred by Duch Mtther (CHI) and is owned by Hanaya Stud (CHE), was not only his Qualifying Class winner, but also earned the Special Awards for Best Arabian Horse Type for Junior Males and Best European Horse. While Figaro (Wadee Al Shaqab X Shirin By Aisha), who was bred by Fausto Gladich (ITA) and is owned by Al Jassimya Farm (QAT), became the Silver Champion. But certainly, both colts are of the highest quality competing in the world and both capable of top honors in all our world’s most prestigious arenas. The Bronze went to the youngest of the Junior Colt Champions, EKS Farajj (Ibn Farid X EKS Bint Helwah), a 2017 colt who was bred by Elkasun Arabain (ZAF) and is owned by Al Khashab Stud (KWT). Junior Colts Saif Albidayer and Qutuz Aljassimya were also chosen for medals in this Championship.
The Senior Mare Championship was special for several reasons. First, all three champions were of different type, different bloodlines and whose up-close pedigrees represented breeding programs all over the world. Second, all three Champions were recipients of Special Awards. The Senor Mare Gold Champion was Noft Al Nayfat (Ajman Moniscione X Eagleridge Passionata), a 2011 mare bred by Cindy McGowen & Mark Davis (USA) and owned by Naf Stud (KSA). Noft Al Nayfat, who was her Qualifying Class winner, was awarded the most 20’s in the entire show: three for TYPE, three for H & N and two for MOVEMENT. She also earned the Special Award for Best in Show Female. Baviera HVP (Marwan Al Shaqab x HB Bessolea), a 2012 mare who was bred by Nelson de Olivera Prata Pinto Moreira (USA) and is owned by Abhaa Arabians (KWT), who was also her Qualifying Class winner, became the Silver Champion. Furthermore, with a Qualifying Class score of 19.88 for TYPE, Baviera HVP, earned the highest score in this most important category for the entire show and was recognized with the Special Award for Best Arabian Horse Type for Senior Females. While the beautiful Maisa Al Nasser (Sinan Al Rayyan X Zenubia Al Nasser), a 2010 mare who was bred and is owned by Al Nasser Stud (QAT), became the Bronze Champion and earned the Special Award for Best Straight Egyptian Horse. Nawaal Al Rayyan and Pepita, champions and well known in their own rights, were also chosen for medals. As a side note, Nawaal Al Rayyan was chosen for Gold by one judge. Two other Senior Mares who were recognized with Special Awards were SA Minerva (Royal Colours X Cicilla) and My Whos That Girl (Shanghai EA X Lady Prue). In her Qualifying Class, with an impressive MOVEMENT score of 19.75, SA Minerva, a 2007 mare who was bred by Angelo Scipioni (ITA) and is owned by Al Nassar Stud (KWT), earned the Horsepower Award Senior Females.
The Senior Stallion Championship exhibited greater harmony among the judges as the three eventual medal winners were the only ones considered for top titles—and all three made impressive show statements. However, the clear favorite was Shanghai EA (WH Justice X Salymah EA) who was bred by Equus Arabians (ESP) and is owned by Ajman Stud (UAE). Shanghai EA, a 2008 stallion and the eldest of all Champions, also earned the Special Award for Best in Show Male. While the Silver went to the youngest of the three, EKS Mansour (EKS Alihandro X EKS Phateena). EKS Mansour, a 2012 stallion who was bred by Elkasun Arabians and is owned by Al Shahania Stud (QAT), was also formally recognized for his achievements. Not only was he his Qualifying Class winner, but also, with an averaged Qualifying Class score of 93.00, received the Special Award for the Highest Score of the Show; and with an averaged TYPE score of 19.75, received the Special Award for Best Arabian Horse Type for Senior Stallions. The Bronze Champion was another horse with an accomplished history, Sultan Al Zobara (Gazal Al Shaqab X Inra Al Shaqab), a 2011 stallion who was bred by Al Zobara Stud (QAT) and is owned by Abhaa Arabians. Along with his peers, Sultan Al Zobara’s accomplishments in this show were impressive. Firstly, in his Qualifying Class he earned more 20’s than any other male competing: three for TYPE and four for H & N. Then with a Class score of 19.75, he and EKS Mansour held the high score among the males for TYPE; and with a score of 19.88, he tied with Shanghai EA and Junior Filly Eralda for the highest score of the show in the category of H & N.
Finally, despite not having prevailed in the Championships, Atius O (Shahim Al Nakeeb X Atia Cone) certainly made a strong impression with his performance. Atius O, a 2012 stallion who was bred by Cone LLC (USA) and is owned by Ahmed Abeer Alsainhati (KSA), not only earned the Horsepower Award Senior Males, but also, with a Qualifying Class score of 20 for MOVEMENT, earned the Pegasus Trophy which acknowledged the best mover of the show.
Although several international farms and breeding programs, as well as individual owners enjoyed success in Menton, the Dubai Arabian Horse Stud triumphed as one of the most important breeding programs in the world. Not only did they earn the Special Award for Best Breeder; but also, D Shala (Marajj X FT Shaella), who was bred and is owned by the Dubai Arabian Horse Stud, was recognized with the Special Award for Best Dam in Show; and FA El Rasheem (FA El Shawan X Virtuosa MLR), who was bred by Marlene & George Rieder (USA) and owned by the Dubai Arabian Horse Stud, earned the Special Award for Best Sire in Show. As a side note, at the 2018 Arabian Horse World Championship in Paris, FA El Rasheem was recognized as the Best Sire in Show as well. Finally, the Special Award for the Best Breeder/Owner went to Janow Podlaski (POL).
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For information on the 2019 Mediterranean & Arab Countries Arabian Horse Championship and show scores:
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Lisa Abraham is an International Journalist and Photographer from the United States. Although she does free-lance for various media, her primary dedication is to Arabhorse.com as a Premier Contributor and Representative.