January 2017

Vol. 57, No. 4

On the cover: Onyx A
(Sundance Kid V x Aliage SSA by El Chivas Regal), 2006 black stallion, owned by Avonlea Arabians, Vacaville, California. Photo by April Visel. See story on page 113.

Sport Horse Nationals

The Journey to Nampa — 2016 Sport Horse Nationals
The suspense hung on the shoulders of the owners, trainers, and handlers alike …, by Morgan Moore

Sport Horse Nationals and the *Ralvon Elijah Influence
In 1986, a brilliant red Australian-born stallion made the long journey from the United Kingdom to change Arabian breeding in the United States forever, by Morgan Moore

2016 Sport Horse Nationals Leading Sires
Research by Douglas Tatelman

U.S. Nationals

2016 U.S. Nationals: The Halter Division

Guest Editorial: Make Halter Great Again?
Fifty years on, it seems like the halter division is going through a midlife crisis, by Cindy Reich

144 2016 U.S. National Results: Halter and Performance


Wit and Wisdom from our Early Breeders: Frisco Mari and His Daughters
One of the finest examples of Arabian horses as a family interest, by Mary Jane Parkinson

Pint-Sized Dynamos: Tyler Hardin and “Zipy”
And then it happened — a twelve-year-old girl on a purebred Arabian gelding smoked all of them, by Cindy Reich

Cover Story: Avonlea Arabians
The Whitakers — Dick and Gail, along with their daughter Anne Whitaker Keller — are proof that small breeders can make a huge impact on the Arabian breed, by Gary Dearth

Small Breeders — Big Results: Markelle Arabians
Joel Desmarteau created a dynasty of champions from a single mare, Angophora by *Eukaliptus,
by Morgan Moore

Moments in Time — On the Road
Five hours on the road in a horse van with a nervous colt and a placid stallion, by Betty Finke

Acupuncture: A Holistic Tool for Optimum Health,
by Mark DePaolo, DVM

AHW’s 2017 Stallion Directory


Scottsdale Signature Stallion and Scottsdale Contenders

We love Scottsdale — for six decades!

Table of Contents and Board of Directors

Welcome to the Auction and Futurity Program

Prize Money Payouts

General Rules

Rights Holders

A Look Back — Champions of 2016

SSS Index of Advertisers

Scottsdale Signature Stallion Auction Catalog
Prize money payouts, Scottsdale Signature Auction Stallions, and Terms and Conditions


Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown
An underdog wins the Arabian breed’s richest race at $1.27 million in Abu Dhabi, by Steve Andersen

Upcoming Features

Las Vegas World Cup Contenders in April

Stallions in March

Totally Tops in March

Arabian Horse World’s Racing Yearbook in March

Great Breeders of the World

Upcoming Issues 


This Month’s Web Exclusives at www.arabianhorseworld.com

What in The World — Cheers to a New Year
by Denise Hearst

Stud Farm Diaries: Getting Ready for the Coming Season
A foal-saving technique and a few words about foaling and the breeding season,
by Cindy Reich

Arab Year

Map & Index

From the World

Arabian Horse World 2017 Calendars

Arabian Horse World — Soulful

Gifts from Arabian Horse World

Markelle Arabians

by Morgan Moore

Some great breeding programs brand themselves through a foundation stallion, while others find their start in small or even large groups of broodmares. However, Joel Desmarteau of Markelle Arabians LLC in Georgia, founded a program around a single mare line: Angophora by *Eukaliptus. While on a limited college budget, he discovered this mare serendipitously through her daughter RGA Kouress. Yet, from this single mare, an entire dynasty of champions have emerged, including World Champion and 2016 U.S. National Champion Stallion Marajj, and the beautiful Elle Flamenca, 2016 All Nations Cup, Menton, and World Cup Gold Champion Junior Filly. This month, Joel Desmarteau sat down with us to share his journey on discovering the foundation of his program and staying true to his passion as he found his way to the world stage as a breeder of champions.

As a breeder, how do you define success?

Breeding horses is certainly a passion for me, but it has also turned into a small business. Because I am breeding horses to sell and continue to focus on producing top quality show and breeding stock, success is clearly measured when I produce a foal that someone wishes to purchase and take into the showring, or when a breeding horse is sold and produces something special for the new owners.

How would you describe your breeding strategy?

I am using one mare line exclusively, in my breeding program. Each of the Markelle breeding mares are daughters, granddaughters, or great-granddaughters of Angophora (*Eukaliptus x Belbowrie Baskana). After the success of Marajj (*Marwan Al Shaqab x RGA Kouress), I immediately went out and looked for more mares from this family, while others went out and bought Kouvay Bay daughters with hopes of repeating this cross. Luckily for me, Angophora, the dam of Kouress, had several daughters and I went on a mission to acquire a few that were available, as well as a few of their daughters. The Angophora daughter by Exceladdinn, RA Miss Siagon, was acquired in 2006 and her first foal for me was Allamara MA by Marwan, who went on to produce Elle Flamenca. It hasn’t proven true every time, but because I am using this one mare family, I have found that if a stallion works on one of the mares, I can usually count on him working on other mares who have the same phenotype. In the past, when I began breeding, I didn’t have the focus I do now. I had mares from many different lines, which was fun, but breeding them became a real challenge and my results were inconsistent. Along with taking out some of the guesswork when making breeding decisions, I have a lot of pride using mares in the breeding program that I have produced myself. It’s one thing to produce a champion, but to also produce the sire or dam of that champion is really something special.

How did you select your foundation mare, RGA Kouress?

I’ll admit, this wasn’t a strategic move on my part at the time. I got lucky. In the fall of 2000, I was traveling in Florida for work and visited Southwind Arabians to see the recently imported *Soho Carol. The owner was having a dispersal sale and Mike Wilson, who was the trainer at the time, took me around and showed me the available mares. I saw daughters from some of my favorite stallions, but since I was recently out of college, they were all way out of my very small price range. At this time, I was most inspired by mares that were sired by the top stallions of the day and wasn’t focused on the dam lines. RGA Kouress (Kouvay Bey x Angophora by *Eukaliptus) was one of the only mares available in my very modest price range. She was in foal to *Soho Carol, so I gave it a go and made the purchase. I sold her resulting filly, and bred her to *Marwan Al Shaqab to produce Marajj.

RGA Kouress’s dam, the lovely *Eukaliptus daughter, Angophora, is out of a very special *Bask daughter, Belbowrie Baskana. Belbowrie Baskana was the result of crossing *Bask on a straight Egyptian mare. Using *Bask on straight Egyptian mares wasn’t what the market wanted back then, so this cross was only done once. The result turned out to be a special mare, who is a key component in the pedigree of every mare I own and breed, and one of Dr. LaCroix’s (her breeder) favorite *Bask daughters. RGA Kouress has good structure and a special pedigree and knew I needed to add some breed type to not only produce the type of Arabian that most appeals to me, but also to produce horses that would have global appeal and marketability.

What advice would you have for aspiring breeders looking for a foundation mare?

My best advice for any breeder would be to put focus on the dam of the mare they are considering. Look for mares with pedigrees that have produced the type of foal you are wishing to breed and look for daughters of those mares or full sisters. Many breeders will sell fillies from top mares that may not turn out to be top quality show horses, but may very well turn out to be outstanding breeding mares. I’ve watched a large number of new breeders purchase a very pretty mare, often a top show mare for a very large price, and then go on to try and breed something that looks like her. Many of the world’s prettiest mares and those that have won the biggest prizes in the showring don’t always turn out to be equally good broodmares. I also tell people to select breeding horses that look like their sire and or dam. Those horses that are so extreme and don’t carry the phenotype of their parents rarely produce those qualities that attracted you to that individual.

How have you selected the mares and fillies to retain for the next generation of your program and the RGA Kouress legacy?

I feel the future of the program will come from three fillies coming into their two-year-old year. One is a full sister to Elle Flamenca and two are daughters of *Kanz Albidayer. One of the Kanz daughters is out of RGA Kouress herself and the other filly is out of a RGA Kouress daughter, a full sister to the dam of Kanz and also a full sister to Marajj. This makes both of these fillies double RGA Kouress and both are extreme in type. I’m excited to be able to cross these fillies with many different stallions and look forward to their production in the future.

How do you select the stallions to breed your mares to?

Again, I am breeding horses because I have a passion for it but remember, because this is a business I have to breed for the market. I stay in tune with which stallions are siring foals that are winning around the world, and to stallions whose foals are bringing top-dollar sales.

What made you decide to focus on breeding your mares to outside stallions as opposed to standing your own stallion?

I love the creativity and all of the thoughts and dreams that go into using different stallions from around the world on my mares. I also enjoy the search for the next superstar. Having my own stallion would make me feel a bit trapped and I would miss the daydreams of all of the breeding combinations that I dream up.

How did you dream up the cross between Kouress and Marwan?

The decision to use Marwan on Kouress was easy. I was actively keeping up with who and what was winning in Paris and overseas, and was familiar with *Marwan Al Shaqab, his pedigree and his show wins. When I read that Michael Byatt was bringing him to the U.S., I quickly wrote and asked for a video. Later, Robert Cass told me that the video didn’t do the horse justice and that he was just incredible. I waited patiently for the video and when it came, I watched it over and over again. He just blew me away. I remember wondering if my one and only mare was good enough for him. I had owned Kouress for a few years now, but this was going to be the first time for me to breed her and evaluate her as a broodmare. The cross turned out to be a big success and my first, never-heard-of-before broodmare had made her mark.

When did you know Marajj and Elle Flamenca were going to be superstars?

For me, it was watching Marajj in Scottsdale as a yearling. He was a superstar. There were so many critics because he was different (prettier and more type than most other yearlings that were being bred and shown at the time), and also because no one here in the U.S. really knew who this Marwan horse was or, for that matter, how to even pronounce his name. I believe there were three Marwan offspring at the 2005 Scottsdale show. All from his first foal crop. Two were top tens in their classes and then Marajj was Junior Champion. I think Marajj’s win in Scottsdale, and his record sale during the show to Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud Al Qasimi of Albidayer Stud, threw *Marwan Al Shaqab to the very front of his class so quickly. It was clearly then that I knew he was headed for stardom.

Elle Flamenca was named champion yearling filly with the highest score of the show at the Scottsdale International classes as a yearling. People told me then she was a star, but it wasn’t until she was named Gold Champion in Las Vegas that really set in for me. This was only her second time in the ring and she went up against one of the top show fillies at the time. I knew then that there were big things in store for her.

Describe the most gratifying moment you have experienced as a breeder.

As a breeder of show horses, of course watching horses that you bred compete around the world is a big thrill and brings great pride to me, but the people I have met and the experiences of meeting people with similar passions with the Arabian horse will always be the most gratifying. I have to thank these horses and their owners who have tirelessly campaigned them, which in turn has put me on the map as a breeder and therefore made it possible for me to meet some really incredible people. I often find myself telling non-horse people about some of the experiences I’ve enjoyed, and their reactions reinspire me. As I tell these stories, I am reminded of just how incredible this ride has been and how lucky I am to have seen and experienced so many wonderful things.

What is the process you are working through to select the next stallion you utilize?

I have a few stallions on my short list for this upcoming breeding year. I do use this time early in the year to watch and check the results of all the shows happening in the Middle East. This is critical for me — to see which stallions are having the most success and then dig a bit further to understand what mares are working with those stallions. I find Scottsdale to be the perfect place to also do a bit of research. These days, American breeders are using more stallions of European type — they work best on my older mares who lack a bit of the desired head type, so there will likely be quite a few young colts to consider. I’ll often roll the dice with a two-year-old in order to get ahead of the curve if I see something special that I think will work on my mares.

Which sire lines or specific stallions have captured your interest?

WH Justice and his son, Ajman Moniscione, have had a significant influence on the program in addition to Marwan and *Gazal Al Shaqab. For me and my mares, the breed type from WH Justice, his son Ajman Moniscione, and his son *Kanz Albidayer (also an RGA Kouress grandson) has influenced all future generations of offspring from my little program. It was just what my mares with older American/Polish pedigrees needed. I had the structure and movement; I needed contemporary breed type. Now that I have young up-and-coming breeding mares that are sired by Ajman and Kanz with lots of breed type, I plan to go back and use these young mares in the future on some stallions here in the U.S. that I have my eye on. I hope this will keep evolving and producing contemporary show horses that are still desirable and have the look buyers around the world are looking for.

I currently have two full sisters of Elle Flamenca sired by Ajman Moniscione. I know I won’t be able to hold on to both of them for long, but I do plan to keep one for future breeding stock. Having the opportunity to produce foals out of a full sister to a superstar show mare always adds value, in my opinion

What foals are you most anxious to meet from your 2017 crop?

Well, I only have three mares of breeding age and only produce two to four foals a year. In years past, before I was focused, I had up to 10 foals in a single year. This became too much to manage and too expensive, as all of my horses were boarded at other farms due to an extensive work travel schedule. I’m focused now on one mare family and have found this to be the most gratifying and easiest to manage. Because this is a business as well as a passion, I had to make the decision to offer embryo rights out of one of my mares to generate income. When you do this, you limit the number of foals you can produce yourself. I am only expecting two foals in 2017, and one of those is in partnership with a good friend I introduced into the Arabian horse world, Dr. Terry Bentley. He owns a lovely WH Justice-bred mare that is in foal to Marajj and due in February and another February foal due by Exxalt and out of Allamara MA, the dam of Elle Flamenca. I’m quite excited to see both of these foals and I’m lucky that I don’t have to wait much longer to have them on the ground. Marajj was an easy choice for Terry’s mare. In my mind they are the perfect match and I hope they will produce something special for us. This will be the mare’s first foal. Exxalt was selected for Allamara MA for a number of reasons. His sire line has proven successful on Markelle mares in the past and he is out of a mare who also carries the dam line I am focused on. This foal will again be doubling up on this line, and I have high hopes for something special from this cross.

What attributes do you find most critical to defining a quality Arabian horse?

For me it’s type. The horses I breed and breed to, must look and act undeniably Arabian. Their look, their carriage and movement, their confidence … it’s what made me fall in love with the breed so many years ago. These qualities also continue to attract new people to our breed and set the Arabian horse apart from all others.

What does the future look like for your treasured broodmares?

Two of the three broodmares of breeding age in the program, RGA Kouress and Allamara MA, are both calling Peregrine Bloodstock home under the expert care of Mark Wharton and Quentin Naylor. Kouress will be 22 in March and will call Peregrine her forever home. Mark and Quentin hope to use some of her blood in their program in the future, so stay tuned for more on that. Allamara MA is having embryo and stem cell work done in Lexington and is enjoying a few years in Peregrine’s wonderful bluegrass pastures before her next adventure.

There are many ways to achieve success as a breeder. As Arabian Horse World has visited with many of these successful small breeders, it’s clear that many strategies and paths can lead even the smallest foal crops to international successes. For Joel Desmarteau, his passion for Arabian type and beauty has fostered his drive to produce the best possible foals from the Angophora dam line, which he treasures immensely. It is clear when one views the beautiful Elle Flamenca, Marajj, or *Kanz Albidayer (who is out of a full sister to Marajj), that Joel’s vision will persist into future generations of quality Arabian show horses.

The Journey to Nampa

by Morgan Moore

Photos by Suzanne Sturgill and Cookie Serletic

2016 U.S. Sport Horse Nationals

I returned from the huddle around the scoreboard to the liver chestnut stallion that was standing in the sea of people and horses in the warm-up arena under the overcast skies of Nampa, Idaho. The suspense hung on the shoulders of owners, trainers, and handlers alike in the pen. This is how it always is during the in-hand goes. A seemingly simple five-minute presentation spirals into hours waiting for each horse to go, the scores to post, and the results to be announced. Some handlers rush off to other arenas, some horses trot back and forth between divisions, but many stand in the warm-up waiting for the news. While Sport Horse Nationals is certainly known for the performance divisions, the in-hand classes draw large (sometimes more than 30) groups of competitive equines. Continue reading “The Journey to Nampa”

Cheers to a New Year

by Denise Hearst

The year 2016 was a year of growth for Arabian Horse World, as we found new ways to talk with you. We expanded our digital presence with the acquisition of ArabHorse.com and with the additions of on-the-ground interviews from shows around the world through Arabian Insider in Europe and here in the U.S. with the charming Rory O’Neill, bringing you great conversations with breeders, owners, and trainers (if you missed them on our Facebook page, you can catch them at www.arabianhorseworld.com). There is much more to come at Scottsdale!

And soon we will be launching Arabian Horse World’s new website, filled with unique and educational content and fresh ways for our advertisers to show you the fruits of their love and labor.

Of course, the ever-present Internet plays a huge role in our lives, with a staggering amount of content flying at us every day. But it is important to consider the sustainability and long life of print as well. In these quiet moments with the written word we have the chance to look inward and consider the deeper aspects of breeding, loving, and caring for Arabian horses. It is here that Arabian Horse World truly makes its lasting mark on the breed, as we not only keep the history alive, but also honestly and unflinchingly discuss topics that are crucial to the breed’s future (please see our series on the USEF rule changes and the ramifications on the halter division).

In 2016 we introduced our “Small Breeders, Big Results” series. So far we’ve heard the inspiring stories of breeders Jessie Szymanski-Hoag and her father Frank Szymanski, Lisa Markley, Donna Hentges, and Marlene Rieder. And in this issue, we are encouraged by the creative and intuitive thinking of breeder Joel Desmarteau, plus the huge impact the Whitaker family has made in our performance divisions, as told in this issue’s cover story.

And we’re proud to announce another new series devoted to the art of breeding, debuting in the February 2017 issue: “Arabian Horse Breeding in the World Today,” in which we will feature Padrons Psyche, and visit with those who have enhanced the breed we love — Bob and Dixie North.

We are grateful to have this voice and long view of our breed, and we look forward to telling new stories in a positive and influential way, and to connecting with you through features that inspire us.

So here’s to 2017. We are honored to have you along for the ride.

Avonlea Arabians

The Whitakers — Dick and Gail, along with their daughter Anne Whitaker Keller — are proof that small breeders can make a huge impact on the Arabian breed, by Gary Dearth

Guest Editorial: Make Halter Great Again?

by Cindy Reich

A petition was circulated in the halter arena at this year’s U.S. National show seeking support for moving the halter division of the National show away from Tulsa to a more “desirable” destination. The demands also included a way to show horses “in all of their beauty and elegance” but in a comparative only system, “with all of the horses in the arena at one time to be properly compared to one another.” The final lines read: “Finally, the new show must not be sanctioned by AHA or USEF. We no longer feel that AHA and USEF has the understanding or best interest of our halter industry.”

How have we come to this point in the halter division? I believe most of the problems can be solved with one rule change. 

For the last 15-plus years, a core group of halter trainers have been very vocal about their feelings that halter classes are too boring and the whole halter division is not exciting enough. This does not include all halter trainers by any means, but the core has remained consistent over the years. In order to keep their clients happy and money coming in, they have fought to have the halter classes be more “entertaining.” They believe that the shows must be at a destination location that is fun and desirable for clients to stay and to party. The classes must be exciting and entertaining for their clients. They would like to have all the horses in the arena at the same time, so the clients can compare their horses against the competition.

The belief that there must not be rules that interfere with the trainer’s ability to “present” the horse in an “exciting manner and environment,” led to the halter classes becoming “entertainment” classes instead of classes for the evaluation of breeding stock, which was the original intention of the class.

What many people fail to recognize is that the horse was always to be judged against the breed standard not against each other. Under the comparative system the horses are no longer being judged against the standard. This is why a horse can accrue the highest points of the show in a preliminary class (judged against a standard) yet not win the championship (judged comparatively). When the horses are only being compared to each other, the class reflects the personal preference, and occasionally the bias, of the judges. Furthermore, the emphasis on the hard stance has often resulted in that being the determining factor in a championship — the quality of the “show” and not the horse’s actual type and conformation. Horses are being selected on a “performance” instead of their quality as a breeding animal. 

Allan Preston of Australia observed that the decline in halter showing is in direct proportion to the difficulty of achieving success at the hard stance. The ability to attain the hard stance in the showring has become so specialized that only a handful of trainers can consistently win at the highest levels. As a result, all of the owners, breeders, amateurs, and trainers who cannot achieve the highest level of “performance” of the hard stance have dropped out. The result: fewer horses being shown in halter. 

Many judges are not judging the “real” horse; they are judging the best “show.” In a class, there is ample time when the horse is walking the circle and walking to the judges when it should be being judged on balance, quality, type, neck and shoulder, topline, hip, and movement at the walk. (Yes, the horse should be judged for movement at the walk as well as trot). When the horse comes to the center of the ring, the judge should only be looking at feet and legs, size of eye, details of the face and ears and that’s it. However, these days, when the real horse comes into the center and is put into the hard stance, it becomes the “magical” horse. And when judges are judging the magical horse — the horse whose score for topline was 17 on the walk, now suddenly has a 19 topline. The 17.5 neck is now a 19.5 neck, and so on. But it is the real horse that is going to be producing offspring.

I believe that 90 percent of the problems faced within the halter division can be eliminated if we get rid of the hard stance. Last year’s USEF ruling was issued in response to a protest lodged at the 2015 U.S. Nationals. In the ruling the USEF stated that “shanking [unprovoked aggressive force] … must be recognized as intimidating behavior that is disallowed under AR115,” and that it could also be considered abuse or inhumane treatment under rule GR839 except under the circumstance of a horse being out of control to the point that it is a danger to itself or others. Most of the “intimidating behavior” comes when the horse is put into the hard stance. One cannot place all the blame on the trainers. The trainers will train a horse to the degree that it is rewarded. And judges are rewarding these performances.

In the nine years since the scorecard came into play with the ability to penalize, there has not been sufficient courage in the judging corps to stop unwanted behavior with the penalty box. But to be fair, just as all the trainers are not to blame for the problem, neither should the judge’s main goal in the ring be enforcement of the handlers’ behavior. Both trainers and judges share responsibility for how we have reached this point. Thus, if the behavior of trainers and judges cannot be changed, we need to remove the catalyst for the majority of the issues — the hard stance.

If we eliminated the hard stance, I predict the following would happen:

Horses would have to be brought into the center of the ring on a loose lead (but with control) and stand naturally with no rigid stance. They could move about in a small area and allowed to blow and spark if they are naturally happy and animated. The time in center arena would be solely for judges to do detail close-up judging of face, feet and legs.

Because there would no longer be a hard stance, the playing field would be more level for all handlers. It would not hinge on the ability of a very few to accomplish a very difficult maneuver.

Abuse and the perception of abuse would decrease dramatically. Horses would not have to be intimidated or threatened to maintain the hard stance and unnatural pose. Without the hard stance, there would be no shanking, no threatening of the whip to maintain position or to cue for unnatural stance. More people would be encouraged to show their horses at halter, knowing that the advantage would be gained in the horse’s natural enthusiasm and vitality, not an artificially-induced pose. The horses in the ring would be happier and present a much better picture to the rest of the industry and public. As for “excitement,” is there anything more thrilling than an exuberant, charismatic Arabian showing himself off? 

Judges would have to judge the “real” horse, as the magical horse would disappear. Therefore, the scores would more honestly reflect the horse standing in front of the judges as well as the horse that entered and left the ring. Horses would win on their own merit, not on the ability to become more magical than another horse.

It remains to be seen if the Arabian industry wants to take back control of the halter division and make it more inclusive to all — breeders, owners, and trainers — as well as make it happier and healthier for horses. Or whether the need for more of a party atmosphere and more excitement for clients is the priority. We are at a crossroads. If no action is taken, the halter division is going to be fractured — perhaps beyond repair.

Sport Horse Nationals and the *Ralvon Elijah Influence

by Morgan Moore

In 1986, a brilliant red Australian-born stallion made the long journey to the United States from the United Kingdom. The heavily Crabbet import featured the beauty of his heritage through his short, wedge-shaped head, square body, tight coupling, incredible substance and ample bone. Prior to his importation, the stallion captured the title of British National Champion twice. His name was *Ralvon Elijah (Ralvon Nazarene x Mill Hill Sharmal) and he inspired breeders on multiple continents. 

*Ralvon Elijah has continued to captivate breeders today as his bloodlines offer a source of attributes that are becoming scarcer in modern breeding pools. His descendants have been powerful additions to working western programs for some time, but *Ralvon Elijah, who earned his performance qualification (required at the time to compete at the U.S. Nationals in senior stallion halter) in dressage, has also kindled excitement in the sport horse arenas.

One such star is the exceptional stallion Taez, a 1989 *Ralvon Elijah son out of Serenado by SX Coronado, who earned stallion breeding approvals with ISR/Oldenburg NA, the American Trakehner Association, and the American Warmblood Society. Taez is a multi-National Champion, whose career highlight was his 2008 Sport Horse Nationals Grand Prix Championship.

*Ralvon Elijah’s legacy was well represented at both the 2015 and 2016 Sport Horse Nationals by multiple National Champions. Two sources of these bloodlines were Tracy Vann’s Vanguard Arabians, in Coalgate, Oklahoma, a *Ralvon Elijah-focused breeding program, and Granger Durdin-Pugh’s Magic Moments Stables in Waller, Texas, a performance-focused breeding operation. 

Tracy Vann says her decision to incorporate and focus on the *Ralvon Elijah legacy is an easy one: “I feel *Ralvon Elijah’s bloodlines can contribute to the production of quality riding horses. These horses are highly trainable and very sound. They make wonderful sport horses in both English and western disciplines. If you are looking for horses that are intelligent, user friendly, plus combine substance and beauty, the Ralvon bloodlines are the complete package.” Two *Ralvon Elijah descendants bred by Tracy had wins at the 2015 and 2016 Sport Horse Nationals: Vanguard Mordechai (Cavu Malachi [by *Ralvon Elijah] x Promise Lawshaysa), 2016 Sport Horse National Champion Stallion Dressage Type Open and Champion ATH, and Reserve Champion Sport Horse Stallion Hunter Type; and VA Ralvon Crusader (Silver Gent [a *Ralvon Elijah grandson] x Cavu Ralvona [a *Ralvon Elijah daughter]), 2015 Sport Horse National Champion Stallion Hunter Type and Champion Dressage Type ATH. VA Ralvon Crusader is owned by Magic Moments Stables. 

Granger Durdin-Pugh of Magic Moments Stables, the current owner of Vanguard Crusader and breeder of two Crusader offspring who captured titles at Sport Horse Nationals in 2016, shared similar sentiments on the value of *Ralvon Elijah blood. “When I met Tracy Vann and was introduced to the Ralvon lines, I fell in love with their trainability and the athleticism. They have durable joints and great work ethics. They are always ready to do more than you ask. Ralvon horses are so honest, they help generate interest in the Arabian horse. They help keep the breed strong in mind and bone — we need to keep these horses around.” 

Multi-National Champion sport horse in-hand winner and Sport Horse Show Hack Top Ten Ralvon Crusader has become a cornerstone in Granger’s program. “Crusader is an incredible athlete with an enormous heart,” she says, “He has a great work ethic and such willingness to learn and please. He has solid conformation, lofty shoulder movement and a really nice strong and short back. He uses all four corners really well when he is under saddle and has great hock movement. He is upright enough in the front end to get his shoulders up when you are asking for collection, and he’s easy to supple to get correct bend and impulsion. It is so nice to work with a horse that is designed for the job. He has the balance, cadence, and rhythm that is needed for collection and looks fancy doing it.”

As a sire, Granger says, “Crusader has passed on to his get his strength in bone, his great willingness to please his handlers, his gaits, and movement.”

Tracy’s first opportunity to win a National title with a horse she owned came at the 2016 Nationals when Vanguard Mordechai captured multiple rose garlands in the in-hand division. Tracy said the win meant, “Validation that I wasn’t crazy! I had been doing my ‘own thing’ for quite some time. I was breeding what I found to be important and pleasing without regard to what anyone else was doing. Mordechai’s win didn’t come about without an enormous amount of hard work, immense sacrifice, and a great deal of determination.”

Vanguard Arabians is focused on producing quality performance prospects while keeping the legacy of *Ralvon Elijah carefully through thoughtful breeding decisions. Magic Moments Stables, on the other hand, focuses on driving new enthusiasts to the breed by being a source of amateur-friendly riding horses. Both programs have found a common source to achieve their goals: *Ralvon Elijah and his wonderful descendants.

Pint-sized Dynamos: Tyler Hardin and “Zipy”

by Cindy Reich

At the Las Vegas National Horse Show in November 2016, it looked to be quite competitive in the $1,500, 1m Jumper Classic. Kristin Hardin had just completed her round, beating JJ Atkinson, Champion Canadian FEI rider, by just a hair. Rich Fellers (FEI World Champion, Bronze Medal Pan American games rider) rode a good round, but was sitting at second to Kristin. And then it happened — a twelve-year-old girl on a purebred Arabian gelding smoked all of them “and blew our times to smithereens,” Hardin said, laughing! Which was fine with Kristin, as it was none other than her daughter Tyler Holiday Hardin on AM Zipy Sharp Shooter (AM Power Raid x AM Zippy Handsom) who showed everyone how it’s done!

“Zipy is really a pony size at about 14.2 hands,” Kristin said. “Yet he has a lot of speed and agility which can give him an advantage in some classes.” Advantage, yes, but competing against Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods who might be 17 hands? Clearly, this small grey powerhouse has made the jumping fraternity sit up and take notice. “Most people on the jumping circuit have memories of riding Arabians or being around Arabians and are nostalgic about it,” said Kristin, “but they don’t usually take them seriously as jumpers.” Yet Hardin has been showing the jumping world the attributes of purebred Arabians for years — most notably with Showgun PGN (Showkayce x PGN Solitaire) bred by Carol Steppe.

Tyler, who has been jumping and showing since the age of five, has proven herself to be a fierce competitor with an uncanny feel for a horse. Not only is she besting the pros (with an Arabian, no less!) she recently competed at an Invitational International Children’s Jumping competition in Bogota, Columbia. The riders had to draw lots for their horse, and out of 62 horses available, 57 horses were used, which means it was a big competition. True to form, out of all the competitors, Tyler emerged victorious with a horse she had never ridden.

“We were allowed to ride our horse the day before to see if we could get along,” said Tyler. “There was an opportunity to change your horse if you didn’t like it, but I was fine with the horse I had.” I asked her if she had any fear going into the arena. “I’m not fearful except when I fall off, and that doesn’t happen very often,” Tyler replied. “The only thing that was a bit different at this show was that the jumps, at 1m 15, were bigger than I was used to. The Columbians also ride differently. They just go forward like crazy and are very fast. We tend to ride a little slower and more carefully. However, the Columbians are really nice people and I had a really good time!”

Tyler and Zipy have changed quite a few minds in the jumping world. “Sometimes I hear people making fun of us behind our back when we go into the ring,” said Tyler, “but after we come out with the win, they are much more complimentary!” And what about Zipy’s personality? “Zipy is a bit of a coward on the ground. You have to move slowly and carefully. However, once you get on his back he is fearless. All he wants to do is go forward, go fast, and jump!” Sounds very much like his lionhearted rider! 

When asked what her future goals were, Tyler replied, “To beat my mother in a Grand Prix!” By the looks of it, it won’t be long!

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown

by Steve Andersen

A career that began in Houston and flourished in Europe reached a new height in Arabian racing in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirate on November 13. The well-traveled RB Burn (Majd Al Arab x Burnie Gee PW by Burning Sand) won the $1.27 million HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown, the breed’s richest race.

RB Burn won the Jewel Crown at 1,600 meters, or about a mile on turf, over a world-class field that included Al Mourtajez, the highest rated Arabian racehorse in the world, and Paddys Day, the 2015 Darley winner as the American Horse of the Year. They finished sixth and eighth behind RB Burn, who picked the perfect day to run the race of his life.

The Jewel Crown was also the richest career win for jockey Gerald Avranche, who rode RB Burn for owner HH Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi and trainer Eric Lemartinel, who is based in Abu Dhabi.

“What an amazing feeling,” Avranche told the press. “We thought he would run well as his work had been good. Obviously, this is a race we all want to win and it is a great result for the whole team.”

The Sheikh Zayed Jewel Crown is the final seven-figure race of the year for Arabians worldwide, but kicks off the 2016-2017 United Arab Emirates racing season for Arabians. The season continues until late March, with major stakes in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on a monthly basis. Not far away, Qatar has started its wintertime season at the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club. That season culminates with major stakes in February and March.

The Sheikh Zayed Jewel Crown was one of three stakes on the November 13 program in Abu Dhabi. In the $54,495 Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship for female riders, the American-bred RB Dixie Burning (Burning Sand x Dixies Delight by Sam Tiki) gave jockey Catherine Walton of England a milestone win. The $44,450 Sheika Fatima bint Mubarak Apprentice Jockey Championship for up-and-coming riders from throughout the world was won by Qader (Munjiz x Fazzaha by Dahman El Arami). Dylan Dunn, a 21-year-old from Australia with more than 120 wins, rode Qader.

In early December, Sharaf Al Reef (Bibi De Carrere x Nomarchie by Djelfor) won the $124,470 Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup at Abu Dhabi on December 4. Six days later, Sniper de Monlau (*Calin du Loup x Clairvoyant by Taher de Candelon) won the $126,239 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup at Al Ain Racecourse.

In Qatar on December 16, the well-traveled and accomplished Gazwan (Amer x Arc de Ciel by Djendel) won the Group 2 Qatar National Day Trophy.

RB Burn was bred in Florida by Dianne Waldron, who also bred RB Dixie Burning. RB Burn was well suited to the Jewel Crown distance. RB Burn has won three of nine starts, beginning with a maiden race at Sam Houston Race Park in early 2015. By that summer, he was racing in France and later finished second in the Group 1 Qatar Total Arabians Trophy des Poulains at 2,000 meters, or 1 ¼ miles, for three-year-olds at Saint-Cloud Racecourse in Paris.

RB Burn won a minor race at the start of the 2016 French season and was fifth in the Group 1 Qatar Derby at 2,000 meters at Chantilly Racecourse in June in his final start of the year in the country. RB Burn won the Sheikh Zayed Jewel Crown in his first start in nearly five months. The shorter distance was vital, Lemartinel said.

“He had a lot of speed,” he said. “He was pulling hard over long distance races and didn’t have much luck in some of the races in France.

“I thought his optimum distance was 1,600 to 1,800 meters. We also had blinkers on him for the first time because when I saw him in France, he was looking left and right. He concentrated on his job in the Sheikh Zayed Jewel Crown.”

The race drew 11 Grade 1 or Group 1 winners in a field of 16, including three American-based runners — Paddys Day; Thess Is Awesome, who won the Grade 1 President of the UAE Cup at Sana Anita in March; and Sand Victor, who won the Grade 2 Sheikh Zayed Cup at Los Alamitos in September.

There was no betting on the race, but Al Mourtajez would have been favored on the strength of his win in the Group 1 Qatar World Arabian Cup at Chantilly Racecourse in October and domination through the year.

Thakif had the early lead in the Sheikh Zayed Jewel Crown, with RB Burn racing just off the pace. RB Burn moved closer to the lead with more than a quarter-mile remaining and took the lead with 200 meters to go. The four-year-old filly Mabrooka (Mahabb x Shamayl by Kesberoy) closed from the middle of the field to be closest to RB Burn at the finish, losing by three-quarters of a length.

Mabrooka, who is owned by HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, won the Group 1 Qatar Trophy des Pouliches at Saint-Cloud in October, 2015.

Sylvine Al Maury (Munjiz x Savavit Al Maury by Dormane) closed from the back of the field to finish third. Owned by the Royal Cavalry of Oman, Sylvine Al Maury won consecutive Group 1 races in Europe in the summer of 2016 — the Dubai Duty Free Hatta International Stakes for fillies and mares at Newbury Racecourse in England in July, and the Doha Cup against males at Deauville, France in August.

Sahabba finished fourth in the Sheikh Zayed Jewel Crown, followed by AF Mathmoon, Al Mourtajez, Thakif, Paddys Day, Loraa, Abhaar, Kalino, Sand Victor, AF Tawaq, RB So Rich, Faucon du Loup and Thess Is Awesome.

Paddys Day raced at the back of the field and was beaten five lengths. Sand Victor never mounted a challenge, while Thess Is Awesome raced near the front early, but faded in the final 1,000 meters.

RB Burn earned approximately $763,000 for owner HH Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Lemartinel said the $1 million Kahayla Classic at 2,000 meters on dirt at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai in late March is a long-term goal for RB Burn.

RB Dixie Burning has won six of eight starts on the UAE circuit, but always against modest competition for Sheikh Khalifa and Lemartinel. A six-year-old, RB Dixie Burning followed her win in the Sheikha Fatima Ladies World Championship with a victory in the minor Bibi De Carrere Handicap at Abu Dhabi on December 11.

In the Ladies World Championship, jockey Walton guided RB Dixie Burning from a stalking position after a slow start to take the lead with a quarter-mile remaining. The mare finished 1 ½ lengths in front of Babel D’Aillas. 

“She was moving nicely,” said Walton, who is 29 and has won more than 120 races. “I only had to use my hands and heels, and once she got into the front on the final bend, she just pulled away. Jockey Tadgh O’Shea won with her last time and gave me a few points,” Walton said. “She won pretty comfortably and it is great to be here and to ride this winner.”

Qader led throughout the Sheikha Fatima Apprentice Championship at 1,600 meters. Owned by HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan and trained by Jean de Roualle, Qader was comfortably in front with a quarter-mile to go and won by an impressive 71/4 lengths over Ameer Al Reef.

“Dylan rode a beautiful race,” de Roualle said. “He knows how the pace is going, the speed is going, and that’s the base for a good jockey.”

Dunn was the second consecutive Australian-based rider to win the Apprentice Championship.

“It’s a massive thrill for me,” Dunn said. “I was able to get the horse to relax there in the front early on and getting it to switch back on. Once I was able to do that it was pretty much simple from there.”

The Apprentice Championship was the first win for Qader in the eighth start for the four-year-old colt in France and the United Arab Emirates. It was the start of a trend; Qader bounced back to win the minor Sweihan Handicap at Abu Dhabi on December 4.

Sharaf Al Reef ended a seven-race losing streak in the rich Sheikh Zayed Cup at 1,600 meters. The seven-year-old has raced extensively in the United Arab Emirates in recent seasons. The Group 3 Sheikh Zayed Cup was his first stakes win. Sharaf Al Reef struggled in Group 1 races last March, finishing fifth in the Liwa Oasis and eighth in the Emirates Championship, both at Abu Dhabi.

In the Sheikh Zayed Cup, Sharaf Al Reef closed from the back of the eight-horse field to take the lead in the final sixteenth and win by a half-length over Nahee. Sharaf Al Reef was ridden by Fernando Jara, who formerly rode in the United States. 

Sharaf Al Reef is owned by Al Ajban Stable and trained by Abdallah Al Hammadi. His five career wins have all come at 1,600 meters at Abu Dhabi.

“Conditions obviously really suit him,” Jara said. “They went quick early and he has run on strongly in the final 300 meters to win nicely.”

Sniper de Monlau beat two runners from the Sheikh Zayed Jewel Crown in the Sheikh Zayed National Day Cup at Al Ain. Faucon du Loup and RB So Rich were second and third in the National Day Cup, having finished 15th and 14th in the Sheikh Zayed Jewel Crown. This was the first running of the National Day Cup.

Sniper de Monlau has won half of his six starts, and could have accomplished more if he had not shown erratic behavior drifting across the track in his losses. The National Day Cup was his first start on dirt, and was a well-earned victory. Sniper de Monlau broke slowly and closed from last to win the race at 1,800 meters, or 1 1/8 miles. He took the lead a quarter-mile from the finish and won by two lengths over Faucon du Loup.

Sniper du Monlau, a four-year-old colt, is owned by Abdul Ghani Abdullah Abdul Ghani Al Abdul Ghani and trained by Helal Al Alawi. Royston Ffrench rode Sniper du Monlau in the National Day Cup.

“The trainer and his team have done a magnificent job with this horse, who is very talented but can be quirky,” said Ffrench. “He won two of his five races last season, and should probably have won at least two more but kept drifting right across the track at Abu Dhabi.

“He is a very good young horse who hopefully can build on this. It is great to win such a valuable prize.”

Gazwan has been highly regarded by trainer Julian Smart throughout his career. The win in the National Day Cup in Qatar on December 16 was Gazwan’s third win this year. He won the $1 million Emir’s Sword in Qatar, raced competitively in France in the summer and fall and won his first two starts of the 2016-2017 Qatar season. On November 16, Gazwan won an allowance race at 2,000 meters, his first start since a fourth-place finish in the Qatar Arabian World Cup at Chantilly the preceding month.

The win in the National Day Cup suggests the five-year-old Gazwan will play a leading role in the major stakes of the winter, notably the Emir’s Sword. Owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al-Thani of Qatar, Gazwan was ridden by Richard Mullen who positioned his mount just off the early pace. With three furlongs remaining, Mullen guided Gazwan to the outside and easily took the lead in early stretch. Gazwan won by three lengths over Majeed, and 1 ¾ lengths over Al Majh’Hoor.

Gazwan has won four important stakes in England and Qatar in his career. He seems poised to accomplish more in 2017.

Steve Andersen is a correspondent for Daily Racing Form.