The 2016 All Nations Cup
The 2016 All Nations Cup for Purebred Arabian Horses
Text and photos by Lisa Abraham
The 2016 All Nations Cup for Purebred Arabian Horses, which took place from September 23-25, was a spectacular show and event. After the busy show season of summer, the competition elevates at the All Nations Cup (ANC), as this show is the first leg of the European Triple Crown. It is here that the farms choose who will represent them—and all stops are pulled. Once again, all festivities took place in the Albert-Vahle-Halle, located in the heart of the charming German city of Aachen. Although the arena provided an intimate atmosphere and is functional for showing horses, the spectacular décor of the 2016 ring enhanced the excitement of the occasion. The ANC is considered by many to be one of the very best shows in the world, but this year was exceptional—in every way.
As a show, it is fair to write that the ANC has been one of the most innovative in the world. The Arabian Breeders World Cup (Las Vegas), another show whose importance has become worldwide, has given credit to the ANC for its inspiration since the beginning. While in Kuwait, Bait Al Arab has created its own ANC for Straight Egyptian Arabians, which takes place in February. Last year was its inaugural show and it was praised as a success.
Dr. Hans Nagel: All shows in Europe are run the same way, operating under the same set of rules governed by the European Conference of Arab Horse Organizations (ECAHO). From show to show, the primary differences are location, ambiance and how each show communicates with the public. For the first few years, the ANC was an outside show. We then moved it to an indoor arena where we could reach the people better. First, the sound of the music is more compact; second, the horses are quieter as they are not distracted by outdoor occurrences. We also pay very much attention to the right speaker. A speaker must have the temperament to motivate the public and maintain attention.
~Dr. Hans Nagel (DEU) is President of the All Nations Cup Committee
In 2014, I attended my first ANC. Right up there with the quality of the horses, I was most impressed with the commentating. It was informative, witty, entertaining and, at times, even warm. Mike Ashmore has been the announcer for the last four years—and his is one of the many roles which contribute to making the ANC unique.
Mike Ashmore(GBR): To be a successful as a show announcer, I think you must have your own style of banter with the exhibitors and the public. Holger Heck was a good friend of mine. He was the announcer in Aachen for many years and I greatly admired his style of speaking. Klaus Beste is also another great speaker and a hard act in which to live up too. I am proud that I have followed these me as an ANC announcer.
Due to being involved with Arabian horses for over 30 years as a handler, breeder and a show organizer, I understand what the public wants from an announcer. Also, because I know nearly all the exhibitors, from the one-horse owner to the owners and managers of our industry’s largest farms, I’m able to add a personal touch by engaging show participants as I read out the points. The smaller owners appreciate this because it makes them feel that they are just as important as the big farms--and rightly so. I also feel it helps to identify the judges by their names as well as by their letters.
Although the role of announcer is a critical one, there are many factors which contribute to making Aachen special. Being an indoor show, the atmosphere is intimate and friendly—more like a family affair. Guests feel comfortable chatting, swapping ideas on breeding, while all the big farms entertain in their booths located in the festival tent, just outside the main arena. Music also plays and important role. Kristof, our DJ, is very talented. He understands how the music should be timed per what is going on in the arena, both volume wise and selection choice.
Aachen is also known for its music. Traditionally, at the start of each class, the horses enter the arena to the famous Triumfmarch, taken from the second act of Guiseppe Verdi’s 1871 grand opera, "Aida"--one of the most famous operas in the world. The music, which was composed in 1870 and first performed on December 24, 1871, was intended for the opening of a new opera house in Cairo, Egypt. The Triumfmarch is in the second act, where main character, Radames, the captain of the Guard leads the Egyptian army on it return following their victory over the Ethiopians. In modern times, "Aida" premiered on Broadway and ran for 1,852 performances. It was nominated for five Tony Awards and won four including Best Original Score and Best Performance by a Leading Actress, and was also named by Time Magazine as one of the top ten theatre productions of the year.
DJ Kristof Heymans (BEL): This was my second year to play music at the ANC. I enjoy this show because of the great ambiance and the high-quality horses. As the DJ, one must pay attention to every single horse and be very aware that anything can happen. Timing is critical—it must be the right music, for the right horse, at the right time. It is also important to understand the horses and how they behave. Sometimes the selections I choose are to encourage the horses if needed; while there are other times, if they show fear of the loud music and are not trotting well, I lower the volume.
My first Arabian horse show in which I played music was over ten years ago at the Elran Cup, in Belgium. Following that show, and then the European Egyptian Event, I was approached by many show organizers from all over the world. This was a crazy time for me because suddenly I was traveling all over the world to just to play music at horse shows. Now I do around twelve shows a year, which include several European and middle Eastern venues and the Arabian Breeders World Cup.
This year the ANC incorporated two charitable activities that not only contributed to the entertainment of the show, but also added “heart” to what made this year unique. Before the start of the show, it was announced that Ajman Stud (UAE), in cooperation with the ANC, donated a Ford Kuga to be used in a lottery from which all earnings would be donated to a charity foundation dedicated to helping children who suffer with cancer. It was stated, “We hope to have you all involved in this charity project to show the world how good hearted the Arabian horse community is. For once, let’s put the competition to the side and join together in an act of goodness to help children and their families that struggle with cancer.” This lottery, which was widely supported, raised over 19,000 EUROS.
Then on Sunday, before the Championships, just as the excitement of the day began to percolate, FA El Rasheem (FA El Shawan X Virtuosa) was beautifully presented by Paolo Capecci, as a breeding to him was being auctioned off, which was donated by the Dubai Arabian Horse Stud (UAE). The auction was an exciting event as it was first purchased by Bassam Al Saqran of Al Saqran Stud (UAE) and then donated back, to be repurchased by Jeff Sloan (USA) of Aria International. Ultimately, the breeding earned an IMPRESSIVE 45,000 EUROS! The presentation of this auction and the spirit behind it, made it an unforgettable memory of the show.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
Another innovation of the 2016 ANC was the introduction of the Lifetime Achievement Awards—one for a person and one for a horse. In the ANC preshow promotion, it was revealed that certain individuals would be recognized, but exactly who they were remained a secret. It was on Championship Day, after the spectacular opening ceremony, that Judith Forbis (USA), of Ansata Arabian Stud, and Estopa, represented by Janina Metz (USA) of Om El Arab, were both acknowledged in center ring for the Lifetime of contributions they both made.
Sylvie Eberhart: The inspiration for these special awards came from the people involved in the organization of the ANC, which included my husband, Wolfgang Eberahrt, Heinz Stöckle, Nils Ismer, Gregor Aymar, Dr. Hans Nagel, who is the chairman of the ANC committee, and myself. The specific recipients for the awards were also chosen by committee. We were interested in choosing a person who played an incredibly important role in the history of the international Arabian horse and who devoted his or her entire life to breeding Arabian horses on an international level. We all agreed that Judith Forbis’s contribution more than exceeded our requirements. The mare Estopa was chosen for two reasons. The first was due to her significant influence in both the German and International Arabian horse breeding and show scene; and the second was due to her connection to Sigi Siller, of Om El Arab, who sadly passed away this year. Estopa was Sigi's foundation mare.
~Sylvie Eberhart (DEU) is member of the All Nations Cup Committee
The depth of Judith Forbis’s contribution to the Arabian horse industry is enormous in scope. She was Secretary and Trustee of the Arabian Horse Trust; a founder and past President of The Pyramid Society and is a current Trustee; she has authored multiple books, some written to educate, others to entertain; she has worked tirelessly as a consultant internationally; and she has always made herself available at home and abroad for educational purposes. However, her greatest contribution has been as a breeder. Judith and her late husband, Donald Forbis, founded the Ansata Arabian Stud program in 1959. Although Ansata exclusively bred Straight Egyptian Arabians, the influence of their program has touched all areas of the industry worldwide. A prime example of this is reflected in the 2016 ANC. All seven Gold Champions have Ansata Ibn Halima in their pedigree at least once; sixteen of the twenty-one Medal Champions have at least one line to an Ansata horse; and the prefix Ansata appears in the pedigrees of the Medal Champions a minimum of 95 times.
Judith Forbis: Life offers many surprises, and when the special ones come along it is always interesting and worthwhile to reflect on the timing in which they occur. When I received notice that I'd been chosen by the All Nations Cup Committee to be presented with their first Lifetime Achievement Award, it came at a time that was especially meaningful. Almost 60 years have passed since Don and I founded Ansata, and little did we think it would have such a dramatic impact on the world. To receive this award after having also judged this prestigious show years ago, and from peers whom I have known and interacted with over decades, was a joyful surprise indeed. However, while I was privileged to personally receive this honor, it also belongs to the many breeders and Arabian enthusiasts who have supported the Ansata program from its inception, for it was they who are greatly responsible for its success. Today, although I still dream about breeding “that perfect horse,” my life primarily revolves around visiting the descendants of Ansata horses and their breeders around the globe and writing about those I have known--and still hope to know in the future.
In 1970, as her breeding career was just beginning, Sigi Siller and her fiancé, Heinz-Ruediger Merz, traveled to Spain where they purchased eighteen mares, one of which was Estopa. Soon after, Heinz and Sigi traveled to Egypt’s El Zahraa State Stud where they purchased a stallion named Shaker. Sigi added “El Masri” to his name, which means “thankful to Egypt.” With Shaker El Masri, Estopa produced the internationally famous El Shaklan. Also, with the birth of El Shaklan, was also the birth of what has become known as the “Golden Cross”-the cross between Spanish and Egyptian blood. After a breeding career whose influence will remain contemporary for years to come, on May 10th (2016), Sigi Siller passed away after a lengthy and brave battle with cancer.
Janina Merz: It was very fitting and emotional for me that Estopa won the Lifetime Award this year at the ANC. It would have been an honor that my mom would have deeply appreciated. Estopa was her once-in-a-lifetime mare, and it was incredibly special to be the recipient of her award just a few months after my mom’s passing.
Estopa is Om El Arab’s foundation mare--every horse on our farm has Estopa in their pedigree at least once. She is our corner stone, the golden thread that runs through our bloodlines generation after generation. Without Estopa the Om El Arab breeding program would be an entirely different program--so Estopa is EVERYTHING for us.
The stats for Estopa’s influence at this year’s ANC are astounding. Furthermore, they illustrate that she is not only important to our own breeding program, but to breeding programs the world over. Out of twenty-one champions at the 2016 ANC, fifteen had Estopa in their pedigrees. Those are amazing stats, and even more special to me because of the Lifetime Award Estopa was honored by this year.
The Classes were judged by a panel of six, chosen from a total group of nine, who were picked through a lottery system before each class. The categories for scoring included: Type, Head, Neck, Body & Topline, Legs and Movement. Scoring was based on a 20-point system with half points. In the case of a tie, the horse with the most points for Type received the higher placement. If this did not resolve the tie, then the score for Movement decided. The Championships were judged comparatively.
The 2016 ANC panel of Judges included: Cristina Vales y Colon De Carvajal (ESP), Sylvia Garde-Ehlert (DEU), Deidre Hyde (UAE), Renata Schibler (CHE), Dr. Gianmarco Aragno (ITA), Fabio Amorosino (BRA), Doug Dahmen (USA), Ali Shaarawi (EGY) and Tomasz Tarczynski (POL).
The Yearling Filly and Colt Championships were deeply competitive and made some interesting illustrations from a pedigree perspective. The Yearling Filly Gold Champion was D Ajayeb (RFI Farid X Ladi Veronika), who was bred and is owned by Dubai Arabian Horse Stud; the Silver was earned by HDM Maria Apal (RFI Farid X WW Imania Apal), who was bred by Haras Del Mar (CRI) and is owned by Ajman Stud; and the Bronze went to Belladonna AT (Wadee Al Shaqab X Om El Bellatrix), who was bred and is owned by Al Thumama Stud (QAT). For the Yearling Colts, D Seraj (FA El Rasheem X Ladi Veronika), who was also bred and is owned by Dubai Arabian Horse Stud, prevailed as the Gold Champion; Pharoah HBV (Psyche HBV X RFI Sophie Almaktub), who was bred by Haras Boa Vista (USA) and is owned by Al Bayydaa Stud (UAE), earned the Silver; while the Bronze went to Imhotep Rach (RHR Marcedes X Isis Rach), who was bred by Rach Stud Agropecuaria (BRA) and is owned by HRH Prince Saud Bin Sultan Saud Bin Abdul (KSA).
It is significant to note that both the Filly and the Colt Gold Champions were out of the mare Ladi Veronika (Versace X Nisrs Natevka), a 2002 mare owned by Dubai Arabian Horse Stud. She herself has experienced an exceptional show career with multiple medal earning performances in Dubia, Abu Dhabi, Menton, Aachen and Paris. I have had the pleasure of seeing Ladi Veronka in the ring and I can honestly write, for me, she was unforgettable. She gleefully presented herself like a runway model and seemed to love the experience as she absolutely filled the arena with her delightful charisma. Getting to witness her daughter and son follow in her success was a privilege.
Another interesting observation regarding the Yearling Championship was the influence of the stallion RFI Maktub. RFI Maktub (Altam Yshmayl X RFI Cyntillation) is the sire of RFI Farid (who sired D Ajayeb and HDM Maria Apal) and RFI Sophie Almaktub (the dam of Pharoah HBV). RFI Maktub, a bay 1998 stallion, was bred in Brazil by Haras Santo Antonio da Bela Vista. In South America, RFI Maktub is legendary. An example of his success as a sire would be at 2011 Brazilian Breeders Cup. That year, Haras Santo Antonio da Bela Vista was awarded the prestigious Breeders Cup with the final winning results of three of RFI Maktub’s progeny. As a sidenote, these three Champions were representative of Haras Santo Antonio da Bela Vista in both the sires AND dams. RFI Farid, who was one of RFI Maktub’s earliest progeny, was exported to Europe by Giuseppe Palumbo of Aretusa Arabians (ITA) and is now owned by Al Hawajer Stud (UAE).
The Junior Mare Championship was very close as each Champion was chosen for Gold by at least one judge. The Silver went to Malikat Al Moluk (Mameluk X Asalat Al Hala), a 2014 filly who was bred by Halaqa Khader (ISR) and is owned by Al Khashab Stud (KUW). Judges Hyde and Amorosino chose Malikat Al Moluk for Gold. The Bronze was earned by Bint Seduction HBV (WH Justice X Seduction HBV), a 2014 filly who was bred by Haras Boa Vista (BRA) and is owned by Alsayed Stud (KSA). It was Judge Dahmen who chose Bint Seduction HBV for Gold. Ultimately it was the enchanting Elle Flamenca who prevailed, adding another championship title to her growing resume. Elle Flamenca (Ajman Moniscione X Allamara MA) is a 2013 filly who was bred by Joel Desmarteau (USA) and is owned by Dubai Arabian Horse Stud. Also, with Elle Flamenca’s win, the Dubai Arabian Horse Stud, in combination with their success in the Yearling Championships, became the first farm in the history of the ANC to win three Gold Medals in one year.
The Judges were relatively consistent with their choices in the Junior Stallion competition. With a near unanimous victory, Gallardo J (Emerald J X Gomera J), a 2013 colt who was bred by Jadem Arabians (BEL) and is owned by Ajman Stud, became the Gold Champion. Luigi (Kanz Albidayer X Lolita), a 2014 colt who bred by D. Saelens (BEL) and is owned by Al Shahania Stud (QAT), earned Silver honors. Although Luigi was chosen by six of the judges for Silver, Judge Tarczynski chose him for Gold. Finally, the Bronze was earned by Falah Al Shaqab (Marwan Al Shaqab X Joseph Just Emotion), a 2013 colt who was bred and is owned by Al Shaqab Stud (QAT). As a side note, Falah Al Shaqab was the not only a 2016 Arabian Breeders World Cup Gold Champion, but he was also a 2015 Champion at US Nationals and Scottsdale. Also, interesting to note, among their many titles as well, at the 2015 ANC, Gallardo J was the Colt Silver Champion and Luigi was the Yearling Colt Silver Champion.
The Senior Mare Championship consisted of an exquisite group of females who were very diverse in both phenotype and genotype. Of all the Championships, this was the most competitive from a point perspective, with only a one point difference between the Gold and Silver Champions. Ultimately the Gold was won by a mare who showed with tremendous poise, beauty and grace: Tehama Ballalina. Tehama Ballalina (Tehama Na Sidaqa X JJ Shai Majestic Queen), a 2002 mare who was bred by L. Ferfuson (ZAF) and is owned by Al Zobair Stud (UAE), was the highest scoring female of the show and earned a total of ten 20’s in her Class. The Silver was earned by a mare who already holds the titles of US National Champion and Arabian Breeders World Cup Champion: Donna Molta Bella SRA (DA Valentino X RD Fabreanna). Donna Molta Bella SRA is a 2012 mare who was bred by Dan or Maureen Grossman (USA) and is owned by Al Saqran Arabians Horse Stud (KUW). The Bronze went to Ghazalah Alaalya (Monticeto LN X JMF Jezell), a 2011 mare who was bred by The Primavere Partnership (USA) and owned by Al Aalya Stud (KSA).
I would like to take a moment to mention another mare whose class performance was electrifying: Latona (El Nabila B X Laranda). Latona, a 2008 mare who was bred by Stadnina Koni Michalow (POL) and is owned by Mohammed Jassim Al Ghemlas (KUW), set the ring on fire from the moment she entered. Her Mare 7-10 Class score was 94.03--the second highest for a female and the third highest of the show. She was also awarded eleven 20’s, four of which were for Movement. Judge Aragno alone gave her four twenties: for Type, Head, Neck and Movement.
The Senior Stallion Championship, as well as their associated Qualifying Classes, was particularly exciting, even though the Judges were strongly consistent in their choices. The Silver Champion was a stallion who has not only earned his share of top international medal honors, but has also been significantly influential as a sire as well: Shanghai EA (WH Justice X Salymah), 2008 stallion who was bred by Equus Arabians (SP) and is owned by Ajman Stud. To mention just one of his achievements as a sire, at the 2014 ANC, his son Excalibur EA (X Essence of Marwan EA), also bred by Equus Arabians and owned by Las Rosas Arabians (URY), was the unanimous Junior Stallion Gold Champion, earning the highest score of the show. In his Qualifying Class Shanghai EA earned ten 20’s: five for Head and five for Type. As a side note, Shanghai EA was Judge Amorosino’s choice for Gold. The Bronze was earned by AJA Angelo (WH Justice X AJA Aaisha), a 2009 stallion who was bred by AJA Arabians (UK) and is owned by Al Baydaa Stud & Mai Stud (EGY).
The Senior Stallion Gold Champion was a stallion who shows himself with dynamic personality and captivating Arabian charisma: EKS Alihandro (Marwan Al Shaqab X OFW Psylhouette), a 2010 stallion who was bred by Elkasun Arabians (ZAF) and is owned by Athbah stud (KSA). With a Championship score of 34 points, EKS Alihandro was just shy of a unanimous victory. In his Qualifying Class, EKS Alihandro earned the highest score of the show with a total of fourteen 20’s: six (straight) for Type; four for Head; one for Neck; and three for Movement.
From the very beginning, EKS Alihandro captured the heart of the Arabian community. Personally, I will never forget the 2013 World Championship in Paris, when Giacomo Capecci trotted EKS Alihandro into the ring. From the moment he entered, he commanded full attention. That year he became the Junior Stallion Gold World Champion. Since that time, he has earned additional Gold titles in Aachen, Menton and Dubai. As a sire, from his first foal crop he produced Rewayah Athbah (X Fedora RG), who, in 2015 became the ANC Yearling Filly Bronze Champion and then followed in Paris as the Gold Champion. His son EKS Mansour (X EKS Phateena) has also been making his mark on the European show circuit. At the 2015 World Championship, EKS Mansour barely missed earing a medal as a Junior Stallion--with one judge who chose him for the Gold. For me, EKS Mansour’s charisma was similarly memorable as well as his quality of being exceptionally photogenic.
The 2016 ANC marked the second year for the prestigious Gelding competition. The inclusion of the geldings as legitimate competitors has been both greatly welcomed and supported by the community at large. However, I chose to cover the geldings last to further illustrate the accomplishments of EKS Alihandro. Although I was unable to trace the root of this older adage, it states: it takes a great stallion to make a great gelding. Both the Gelding Gold Champion, Pistorius (X ZT Ludjteyna) and Bronze Champion, Nabeel Al Nasser (X Noof Al Nasser) were sired by EKS Alihandro—another impressive achievement! Pistorius is a 2015 gelding who was bred and is owned by Athbah Stud; while Nabeel Al Nasser is also a 2015 gelding who was bred and is owned by Al Nasser Stud (QAT). The Silver Medal was earned by El Emando (QR Marc X Emanda), a 2009 gelding who was bred by Stadninia Koni Michalow (POL) and is owned by DG Arabians (DEU).
All Nations Cup Awards
The All Nations Cup concluded with two very important Awards. The first of which is the “The Ian Hedley Memorial Trophy: The All Nations Cup Breeders Trophy.” The guide stated, “This is a perpetual trophy donated by the Hon. Mrs. Mary Ann Wragg and Mrs. Annette Hedley. This award recognizes the country which had bred the most prizewinners each year on the occasion of the Nations Cup Show.” The second, and most important, was “The Lady Harmsworh Blunt Memorial Trophy: The Nations Cup.” This Award is given to the nation whose entries score the highest number of points per a predetermined scale. The United Arab Emirates was the recipient of the ANC Breeders Trophy, while Belgium earned The Nations Cup.
Anna Bishop: After returning from my first All Nations Cup and being asked what I liked best, my answer was simple: EVERYTHING. This show has a long-standing, tremendously positive reputation--and understandably so. The schedule was nicely paced, the quality of the horses was incredible (with many giving me goosebumps), the arena was tastefully decorated and intimate enough to provide the opportunity for “table hopping” with friends. It was extremely well organized and included those meaningful touches, such as the commemorative tent, honoring the late Sigi Siller, Irina Filsinger and Erwin Escher. I understand this was also an excellent year to attend, with the enhanced Opening Ceremonies during the Championships. I, along with countless others, had my cell phone out, videoing that fantastic laser light show. And, I’ve just got to say, I was also a bit jealous! How wonderful it would be to have the opportunity to “take a page out of the Aachen book” as part of our Egyptian Event closing festivities! It was also especially meaningful to be present to see Pyramid Society Founder and Trustee, Judith Forbis, receive the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award. Each time I hear or see that long list of accomplishments by this incredibly gifted Straight Egyptian breeder, I am both humbled and honored to serve an organization dedicated to the Straight Egyptian Arabian. And finally, I’m highlighting Aachen in my 2017 travel folder with a “MUST GO” beside of it!
~Anna Bishop (USA) is the Executive Director of The Pyramid Society
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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, a division of Arabian Horse World, as a Premier Contributor and Representative.