Flying the Flag for the Middle East: Al Khalediah Arabian Horse Festival
Words by Samantha Mattocks
January sees the fifth running of the prestigious Al Khalediah Arabian Horse Festival. Since its inception in 2008, this Festival has garnered a reputation of being one of the top shows in the Middle East.
Held between 23 and 27 January 2012 at Al Khalediah Stables in Tebrak, just outside Riyadh, Al Khalediah Arabian Horse Festival is held under the kind patronage of HRH Prince Khaled bin Abdulaziz bin Sultan Al Saud. Prince Khaled's love for the Arabian horse, mixed with a desire to promote the breed, including the precious desert-bred lines preserved by his forefathers, has resulted in this impressive show growing up like a true oasis in the desert.
The 5th Al Khalediah Arabian Horse Festival sees some changes in the format. A new Festival Manager is now in place, Ronny Vosch. Ronny is familiar with the organisation and running of the Festival, having been stewarding the collecting ring at the event for a number of years. The previous Festival Manager, Melanie Mannix, has been retained as a consultant and is working closely with Ronny to ensure that Al Khalediah Arabian Horse Festival maintains its place as being the premier event that it is so well known for.
Other changes taking place this year include the auction not longer being on the schedule. This means that the Festival can focus even further on promoting the versatility of the Arabian horse.
As before, Al Khalediah Arabian Horse Festival will offer visitors at 120km endurance race, Al Khalediah Festival Cup, to enjoy as well as the exciting race day. Held on 24 January, there are five races, made up purely of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-bred horses as well as desert breds, and this part of the festival offers a great spectacle for the Festival goer.
Between 25 and 27 January is the horse show itself, an ECAHO A Show. The 2012 judges have been announced - Chistian Bourasse (France), Claudia Darius (Germany), Sylvie Eberhardt (Germany), Toto Modderman-Van Dorssen (Netherlands), Pierluiga Rota (Italy), Dr Marek Trela (Poland) and Peter Upton (United Kingdom).
One important feature of this show is that, under direct instruction from Prince Khaled, there is no artificial noise stimulation of the horses. Prince Khaled, when he first founded the Festival, was clear that he wanted all horses to be shown as naturally as possible and for their Arabian essence to shine through. Certainly, this instruction has paid off: champions here include Pianissima (Gazal AlShaqab x Pianosa), QR Marc (Marwan Al Shaqab x Sweet Dreams), Baanderos (Marwan Al Shaqab x HB Bessolea), Alma Al Tiglio (Ajman Moniscione x Amanda Al Tiglio) and Panarea by Palawan (WH Justice x Palawan), among others, and the list truly reads like a who's who of the current showing greats.
With the number of international visitors to Al Khalediah Arabian Horse Festival increasing year on year, the 2012 Festival looks set to be bigger and greater than ever. Arranging a visit to Saudi Arabia is easy, and the Festival Office team are happy to help wherever they can.
For more information, visit www.akahf.com. There really is no better way to start the 2012 showing season by spending time in the beautiful country of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, surrounded by some of the finest Arabian horses in the world.