Old town Medina
Warmth in color.
The hotels near the exhibition park are close to the Atlantic
The area is beautifully designed and scrupulously clean and tidy
Bronze Champion Senior Female SS Farah Olivia (Kahil Al Shaqab x Farah-Darina) for Jumah Alshemeili UAE
Gold Champion Senior Male Al Aryam Shklaan (Excalibur EA x Al Aryam Shakeera)
Gold Champion Junior Male D Shart (Excalibur EA x D Shinanah).
Bronze Champion Junior Male S.M. Mash’hoor (D Seraj x D Meznh) for Sh. Saeed Bin Juma Al-Maktoum UAE
Bronze Champion Senior Male Marsal Al Shaqab (Marwan Al Shaqab x Miss El Power JQ) for Khoudri Mehdi – Morocco
Silver Champion Yearling Colt Kanze Elektra (Emagnum Moniscione x Elektra by Laman) for El Haouari Salah, Morocco
Gold Champion Yearling Colt Borj Al Arab ME (Summum Marc KA x D Wadhah) for El Atouani Mohamed, Morocco
Gold Champion Junior Female D Nahab (Royal Colours x D Jawaher) bred and owned by Dubai Stud UAE
Bronze Champion Junior Female Al Aryam Aldhanna (Raoud Albidayer x Al Aryam Basma), UAE.
Silver Champion Junior Male the exotic Al Aryam Hasheem.
Gold Champion Senior Female AJ Barakah (AJ Marzan x Princess of Justice) bred and owned by Ajman Stud UAE
Silver Champion Senior Male Admiraal (Emerald J x Hanniyah) owned by Ajman Stud UAE
The guns are fired at the end of the run
The Barbs, all stallions(!) are tethered quietly together
by Caroline Reid
photos by Henrike Hormann
Having been cancelled the previous two years due to COVID, the Salon du Cheval of El Jadida made a popular return October 18-23, with all the passion, color and energy that is Morocco. It was the week of the horse at the fantastic exhibition centre and halls built specifically for this popular event. This was the thirteenth edition and as well as holding an ECAHO International A show, there was also the Moroccan Breeders Cup, four days of international show jumping, and the famous Tbourida Grand Prix. All of this is held at the Mohammed VI Exhibition Centre, commissioned by SOREC in 2015, and is huge, spread over 46 hectares, with two massive halls as well as outdoor arenas. While one of the halls hosts the showing, jumping and equestrian evenings, the other has many colourful stands representing different regions where local artisans display their crafts, as well as holding photographic and art competitions.
The event is held under the patronage of His Majesty Mohammed VI, himself an equestrian enthusiast, and to this end he conceived SOREC — the royal society for the encouragement of the horse. SOREC has been given over a billion dirhams to develop equine infrastructure, and they have invested in two new training centres, a new racetrack and various equestrian training programs. The horse is deeply rooted in Moroccan history, most notable being the Barb and the Arabian, and in 2010 there were only 300 Barbs left, so SOREC instigated financial incentives for breeders and now there are over 900. Barbs differ from Arabians in that they have a lower tail set, sloping quarters, a convex head, more collected movement, and are more docile, so while the Arabians were used for raids due to their speed, Barbs were used for close engagement and combat. Hundreds of school children are bused to the show every day from the different regions — and they are excited, some having never left their villages before. Their innocent enthusiasm is a joy, as they cheer and clap every Arabian as it trots into the arena, shouting “Go, go go!” One wonders if Western children would lift their heads long enough from their phones to see a horse.
The aforementioned Tbourida is a sight to behold, and is actually now on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Tbourida is a competition throughout Morocco for teams — ‘sorbas’ — from various regions and is a fantastic sight to behold. There are 11 to 18 horses in each team and they line up across the arena, starting at a steady jog, building up to a gallop, and then, as they thunder forward, they lift their guns aloft and finally fire (just gunpowder) simultaneously before coming to an abrupt halt. Each team is marked on speed, control and synchronicity. The riders (mainly men, but some women are now competing, too) wear colourful costumes crafted by their region’s artisans and they compete only on Barb stallions, all of which can be seen tethered calmly among each other when they’re not competing.
ECAHO A Show
The show was run over two days, with a good number of entries forward, including some big guns that had been flown in from Dubai Stud, Al Aryam (Abu Dhabi) and Ajman Stud, earlier in the week. This year’s judges were Hassanain Al-Nakeeb (UK), Ebrahim Faraj (Bahrain), Abderrazak Hmidani (Morocco), Christian Moschini (Italy), Renata Schibler (Switzerland), Graham Smith (Australia), and Anna Stojanowska (Poland).
The classes were well filled and nineteen yearling fillies came forward, split into two classes.
All the medal winners came from the first class — and remained in the same order — despite the first- and second-placed fillies in the second class getting higher points, but that’s Championships for you, especially amongst the babies, where they can come back into the arena the day after their class feeling more confident and showing off accordingly, or just plain tired. The Gold Yearling Filly was Al Ayla Elaaz (Al Ayal Moniscione x Kahima Bint Shaarifa), bred and owned by Oumlaz Mohammed (Morocco). She was an obvious choice — a nice chestnut, she was more mature and bodied up than her competitors, and she scored 91 points to easily take the class. Silver was the grey Hizia JJ (Maximilian x Harmonia JJ), bred and owned by Jacky Simon (France), and another grey, Ouacila Bouznika (Marsal Al Shaqab x Bouchra Bouznika) took the Bronze.
There were also 19 Junior Fillies present and again all three medals went to the top fillies in the first class, with the three year olds not featuring at all. Outstanding in this section was Dubai Stud’s D Nahab (Royal Colours x D Jawaher by FA El Rasheem). This super chestnut easily won her class, scoring the highest mark of the show, 92.3, and unsurprisingly was the unanimous choice for Gold Champion. In fact, both of Dubai Stud’s entries in this class were FA El Rasheem combined with Royal Colours bloodlines, a cross that seems to be working remarkably well, with their pretty grey D Reemah (D Seraj by FA El Rasheem x D Nawal by Royal Colours) being awarded Silver.
The bay Al Aryam Aldhanna (Raoud Albidayer x Al Aryam Basma by Marajj) was Bronze; this filly has a super standup with great neck shape and body, and was second in her class.
Eleven Yearling Colts came forward and the top three in the Championship were all Moroccan owned, and it was a tall well-bodied grey Borj Al Arab ME (Summum Marc KA x D Wadhah), bred and owned by Benlahfki Mehdi, who took the Gold, with the bay Kanze Elektra (Emagnum Moniscione x Elektra by Laman HVP), owned by El Haouari Salah and winner of the first class, who took Silver over the other class winner, the grey Amir Koutoubia (Imperial Bisaam x Dijlah Bouznika), owned by Bimezzagh Tahar.
Again all three Champions were taken from the two year olds, with another product of Dubai Stud’s highly successful breeding program being awarded Gold Champion, the almost femininely pretty grey D Shart (Excalibur EA x D Shinahah by FA El Rasheem), who oozes type. This time the Championship was not unanimous, however, as it was another FA El Rasheem get, the exotic-faced dark bay Al Aryam Hasheem (x Al Aryam Hamra by Marajj), who showed well to receive a couple of votes for Gold, too, and ended up Silver. Grey SM Mash’hoor (D Seraj x D Meznh) was awarded Bronze for owner breeder Sheikh Saeed Bin Juma Al Maktoum.
It seems that to do well at this show you needed to be in the first class of your section, as again the top three in the first class (4- to 6-year-old Mares) took home the honours! However, both classes were pleasingly well filled, with 43 mares competing, and this time it was Ajman Stud’s turn, winning the class with AJ Barakah (AJ Marzan x DA Princess of Justice), a refined chestnut with a ton of attitude and a great standup, who scored 91.8 and took the Gold in the Championship. Second place in the class, but eventual Bronze Champion, was UAE Jumah Alshemeili’s very regal grey SS Farah Olivia (Kahil Al Shaqab x Farah-Darina). This mare reminded me of the Polish ladies of old, with tremendous dignity and self-carriage and she is almost old fashioned in type in that her head isn’t bent, but again old-fashioned in that she has huge dark pools for eyes and that ‘look.’ Earning all 20s (except one, boo!) for movement, this mare was a joy to watch. TF Maisa (Marajj x Latiffa,) a bay with the great body and structure expected from this pedigree, was Silver for her owner Mohamed El Atouani (Morocco).
Again this class had a great number of entries – 17 in the 4- to 6-year-old class and ten in the senior class. This section was perhaps the most highly anticipated of the show in that the first class had Ajman Stud’s previous World Champion Admiraal (Emerald J x Haniyyah) head-to-head with the young pretender Al Aryam Shklaan (Excalibur EA x Al Aryam Shakeera by Ora El Masri). And indeed, in the class, they actually tied!
The glossy dark bay show beast Admiraal still presented some strides of great movement, but wasn’t quite showing the awesome, hair-tingling spring in his step that he famously displayed as a yearling when he was crowned World Champion, although he still earned overall higher marks for Type to win the tie over the pretty and more ethereal grey Al Aryam Shklaan.
However, in the Championship, the places were reversed. Standing by each other Al Aryam Shklaan looked a little lighter in type and gained five votes for Gold over Admiraal’s two. The upstanding Marsal Al Shaqab (Marwan Al Shaqab x Miss El Power JQ), winner of the senior stallion class for Morocco’s Haras Royal Bouznika, took Bronze.
Mention should be made of the late Ryan Jones’ connection to both Gold and Silver Champions in that many years ago the sire of Al Aryan Shklaan’s dam, Ora El Masri, arrived at his parent’s Bychan Arabians as a young foal, as his own dam was to be bred to one of the Bychan stallions. Ryan immediately spotted Ora El Masri’s potential, purchased him and later showed him with such success that he was bought by Al Aryam Stud and continued to win in the showring throughout the UAE, as well as stand at stud, siring among others Al Aryam Shakheera, Shklaan’s dam, herself a winner in the showring. Years later Ryan went on to become show and breeding manager for Al Muawd Stud, and hence, Admiraal was also born and raised at Bychan Arabians.
And the final note to this story — it was Ryan’s brother Rod, himself one of the top handlers in the world today, and most probably the fastest — who showed Admiraal to his World Championship win in 2019 and here today presented Al Aryan Shaklaan.