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by Theresa Cardamone

"I want to be a part of it, New York, New York." —Frank Sinatra New York City dazzled as it played host to the Arabian breed at the first annual Arabian U.S. Open, which kicked off the five-day Rolex Central Park Horse Show. Under a canopy of stars and surrounded by the glittering Manhattan skyline, Arabian horses took center stage in Central Park to demonstrate their unique qualities to a worldwide audience. Just as Arabians were the first domesticated breed, so too should they be the ones to open the show for other breeds, most of which trace back to the desert Arabian. “It was an opportunity to showcase our Arabian horses to a new audience on a truly world-class level,” said Arabian Horse Association President Cynthia Richardson. “We were held to the same standards of excellence as all of the other participants, including Olympic competitors. Everyone was over the moon about what it meant for the Arabian horse.” 70 | A R A BI A N HOR SE T I MES

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When the idea to add an all-Arabian day to the show was first floated, funding had to be secured. Bart Van Buggenhout manages Aljassimya Farm for Sheikh Jassim Bin Khalifa Al Thani of California and Qatar. Recognizing the potential for the breed, Bart carefully vetted the idea, then took the proposal to Sheikh Jassim, who was intrigued enough to come meet the show organizers and see the venue. One look was all it took. The Arabian portion of the show was underwritten in its entirety for six years. Bart explains, “Sheikh Jassim is dedicated to taking the magic of the breed to new audiences. He sees the value in presenting our Arabian horses at small, intimate events that are designed to provide a gateway into the breed for new owners. The small classes don’t overwhelm the audience; they feel like they can be involved and pick the winner. Having a spectacular setting like Central Park is a key ingredient for this type of showcase event.” Arabian Horse Times publisher Lara Ames added, “This was one of the most magical shows that I have ever been to. How many shows can you go to in the world, where you have the backdrop of the beautiful city and Rolex and Range Rover as sponsors? This may not be a show for everyone, but this is the best exposure the Arabian breed has had in a long time.” Exhibitor Kim Jarvis agreed. “This was one of the best events our breed has been a part of in decades,” she said. “It was an honor and a privilege, and all the Jarvis’ hearts beamed with pride to be included in this wonderful showcase. The magic of Central Park ran through everyone’s veins. It surely is an event not to be missed—so mark your 2016 calendars now!” Ten Arabian classes were offered to show the beauty of the horse both under saddle and in-hand. Halter classes were interspersed with ridden classes that demonstrated a range of potential uses for Arabian horses. Judge Lisa Blackstone attests to the caliber of the entries, stating, “Every horse

shown deserved to be on that stage. This show will never have large numbers, but quality over quantity is preferable as we introduce the Arabian horse to the public.” Amateur owners were specifically invited to show, because it is unusual for owners to ride their own horses at other world level breed competitions. Cynthia described the result, “Beautiful young ladies in the country class, in their stylish habits, their big, beaming smiles, the trotting action … it was an incredible visual to take away—the usefulness of the horse, the fun that is had in participating. The great relationship between the Arabian horses and their riders was well demonstrated.”

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Fforget-Me-Not), who had not been seen in public since 2012. She captured the Silver Champion Mare honors with Michael Byatt on the lead, and will be competing in Paris later this fall for the World Platinum Championship.

The exhibitors were universally elated just to have the experience of showing in Central Park. Many had gone to great expense to participate in what is sure to become one of the most important events of the Arabian year. Winning the first Arabian U.S. Open Gold Championship for Yearling Fillies was Verdette J, bred and owned by Larry Jerome of Wisc. and shown by Jeff Schall. By Saiaf Al Shaqab and from MM Starlite Jullyen, the sight of the elegant miss wearing her champion’s garland under the spotlights was exhilarating. Sheikh Jassim not only supported the show financially, he brought some of his finest horses to compete for the titles. The Gold Champion Yearling Colt was, fittingly, Jalal Aljassimya (WH Justice x Annaiss), bred and owned by Aljassimya Farm. Jalal was perfectly presented by Giacomo Capacci, who flew in from Italy to do the honors. Aljassimya also brought a treasure, the ethereal 2011 World and U.S. National Champion Mare CR Jasmeenah (WH Justice x


Gold Champion Junior Filly was Edens Manderley, a two-year old daughter of Eden C and Rebecca R, proudly bred and owned by Shelley MacMillan of Georgia, and shown by Ted Carson. Gold Champion Junior Colt was SF Verazes Qamar (SF Veraz x Sohos Honey Serenade), also shown by Ted Carson for breeder/owner Sycamore Farms of North Carolina. Carson’s enthusiasm for the event was contagious. "The commitment of Sheikh Jassim to enable the Arabian horse to have a presence in the New York show is an unparalleled act of generosity, foresight, and dedication to this great breed that everyone who loves the Arabian horse should take to heart and emulate,” he said. “It allowed our horses to be promoted to a fresh audience on a stage unlike anything I have ever experienced in over 20 years of presenting horses … I honestly felt like I was walking into the Super Bowl or World Soccer Cup.  It simply has the WOW factor.” Winning the Gold Champion Mare award was the ultrabeautiful 2014 U.S. and Canadian National Champion Mare, Valentinos Angel MI (DA Valentino x Always An Angel). Artfully shown by Andy Sellman, she was bred in Australia by Mulawa Arabian Stud and is owned by HRH Prince Abdullah Bin Fahad Al Saud of Saudi Arabia. Sellman also handled the Gold Champion Senior Stallion, Om El Al Azeem. Bred and owned by Sigi Siller and Janina Merz at Om El Arab International in California, he is sired by Al Lahab and is from Om El Beneera, a direct daughter of the fabled Estopa. “Sigi and I were incredibly honored to have Om El Al Azeem invited to show,” said Janina. “He and

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Andy Sellman rose to meet this magnificent occasion in such a very special setting. We especially want to thank Sheikh Jassim for sponsoring this event and creating a new and exciting venue in which to showcase the beauty and versatility of the Arabian horse.” Sellman summed up his feelings, “It was a real honor to show in Central Park with such great horses. The whole experience was incredible and very well organized. It is exposing the Arabian horse to a whole new audience in a beautiful way. I would definitely participate again.” Gold Champion Hunter Pleasure was the jet-black Klint Black, who earned previous titles as Canadian National Champion Western Pleasure and Arabian Sport Horse National Champion Stallion. Klint, a son of Desperado V and Windsong Bey, is bred by Suzanne Eves, owned by Flois and Cindy Burrow, and was beautifully ridden by Wendy Shelton. The Country English Pleasure Gold Championship went to the aptly named Noble Grace, a daughter of IXL Noble Express and Gina Afire, who has motion built into her entire pedigree. Noble Gracce was bred by Maroon Fire Arabians and is owned by Springwater Farms Arabians of New Jersey. Carol Skeuse-Hart was in the irons. Judge Blackstone considered the class to be one of the highlights of the show. “It was a privilege and an honor to serve as a judge at this show,” she said. “Watching these Volume 46, No. 5 | 73

performance. Closing out the show and winning the Gold Championship for Native Costume was a horse who epitomizes the finest qualities of the Arabian: beauty, talent, stamina and longevity. Bred by Jayne Solberg and owned by Hawk Haven Farms of Connecticut, he was ridden, to the delight of the crowd, by a beaming Cathy Vecsey. A direct grandson of both Bask and Serafix, being by The Chief Justice and out of Overlook Seratifa, this grand ambassador of the breed could not have better illustrated the durability and usefulness of the Arabian horse.

beautiful horses, seeing the New York skyline and beautiful moon as a backdrop was breathtaking. But, walking the line in the country English class was inspiring! Every rider had huge grins on their faces, having the time of their lives! I'm not sure anyone really cared what ribbon they got. Rather, they were all there in the spirit of camaraderie to showcase this beautiful breed. It felt ‘bigger,’ more important than a horse show in that respect.” Exhibitor Brooke Marie Jarvis described her feelings as she rode in the shadows of the Manhattan skyline as “joy, happiness, pure pleasure, and euphoria!” The Gold Champion Western Pleasure Horse was Monticello V, a gorgeous son of Jullyen El Jamaal and out of Mosquerade V. Bred by Varian Arabian; Joe Reser rode Monticello V for owner Lesley Farms in a beautiful


Vecsey considers her gold championship ride on HL Sanction to be a highlight of her life. “It was incredible to be able to bring Sanction to compete at such a high level, and he really rose to the occasion,” she said proudly. “It was a special memory of a lifetime for me, especially considering he is 26 and I have had him since he was four. The whole two days were surreal to me, I felt like I was ‘part of the band’ with a backstage pass! The camaraderie was incredible; everyone had packed lightly so there was a lot of sharing of forgotten items, and rooting for each other. It’s been a long time since I had so much fun!” It took a huge team to mount the whole production. International Equine Group, led by Mark Bellissimo, stuck their necks out to put all the pieces together, from striking the original deal with Donald Trump to use the ice rink and working with the Central Park Conservancy, to constructing and deconstructing the site with mini equipment that could handle the small paths and tight spaces. The finest footing was brought from the stockpile where it is stored, and then restored for next year. Michael Stone, also from IEG, facilitated everything, with

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Jim Wolf doing the same on the media side. The AHA team was there in full force under the guidance of Show Manager Glenn Petty. The constraints of Central Park limit the number of horses that can be on the grounds at one time to 50. They are vanned over from their base at the U.S. Equestrian headquarters in New Jersey during the night, housed in stables set up on a Central Park ball-field, and reloaded immediately after the day’s program is over, allowing the next day’s participants to rotate in. All told, it was a fantastic team of professionals who each did their part to make the night so special. Bart Van Buggenhout and Project Consultant Michelle Kelly were the unsung heroes of this event, with Bart promoting the idea not only to Sheikh Jassim, but also to many of the competitors who chose to bring their horses. Both were a constant presence at the arena and back at the barns, observing everything and making notes for next year. “I am very pleased,” Bart said as we watched the horses loading on to one of the vans after the show. “We had over 100 passers-by who bought tickets, and many more who watched from the sidelines. The live feed drew thousands of viewers from all over the world. We have work to do to make next year’s show even better, but I think it is safe to say that the first Arabian U.S. Open was a huge success.” Volume 46, No. 5 | 75

ARABIAN U.S. OPEN RESULTS Wednesday, September 23, 2015 ~ 06:00 PM

Arabian Senior Stallion Gold Champion OM EL AL AZEEM (Al Lahab x Om El Beneera), shown by Andy Sellman for owner Om El Arab International. Arabian Yearling Colt Gold Champion JALAL ALJASSIMYA (WH Justice x Annaiss), shown by Giacomo Capacci for owner Aljassimya Farm.

Arabian Senior Mare Gold Champion VALENTINO'S ANGEL MI (DA Valentino x Always An Angel), shown by Andy Sellman for owner HRH Prince Abdullah Bin Fahad Al Saud. 76 | A R A BI A N HOR SE T I MES

Arabian Yearling Filly Gold Champion VEDETTE J (Saiaf Al Shaqab x MM Starlite Jullyen), shown by Jeff Schall for owner Lawence Jerome.

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ArAbiAn Senior StAllion HAlter GOLD - OM EL AL AZEEM (Al Lahab x Om El Beneera), B/O: Om El Arab International SILVER - MIRACLE OF MARWAN (Marwan Al Shaqab x Majalina), B: Ray & Nora Tatum and Michael Byatt, O: Miracle Maker Group BRONZE – MAIHAB (True Colours x Abraxas Moonbeam), B: Abbasiyah Stud, Inc., O: Faisal Muhammad ArAbiAn Junior ColtS 2-3 YeArS GOLD - SF VERAZES QAMAR (SF Veraz x Sohos Honey Serenade), B/O: Sycamore Farm LLC SILVER - FALAH AL SHAQAB (Fadi Al Shaqab x Joseph Just Emotion), B/O: Al Shaqab – Member Qatar Foundation ArAbiAn YeArling ColtS GOLD - JALAL ALJASSIMYA (WH Justice x Annaiss), B/O: Aljassimya Farm SILVER - IJ BELLATORE ( JJ Bellagio x TR Scarlet Ginger), B/O: Isaac and Jessica Taylor ArAbiAn Senior MAre HAlter GOLD - VALENTINO'S ANGEL MI (DA Valentino x Always An Angel), B: Mulawa Arabian Stud, O: HRH Prince Abdullah Bin Fahad Al Saud SILVER - CR JASMEENAH (WH Justice x Fforget-Me-Not), B: C A Ratcliffe, O: Aljassimya Farm BRONZE – GEMELLIA (Piber x Georgia), B: Michalow State Stud, O: G. Marcella Haensch ArAbiAn Junior FillieS 2-3 YeArS GOLD - EDENS MANDERLEY (Eden C x Rebecca R), B/O: Shelley MacMillan ArAbiAn YeArling FillieS GOLD - VEDETTE J (Saiaf Al Shaqab x MM Starlite Jullyen), B/O: Lawence Jerome SILVER – XXPECTATIONS (Excalibur EA x MC Psynammon), B/O: Cecil & Frances Butler and Jeff & Sybil Collins ArAbiAn CountrY engliSH PleASure GOLD - NOBLE GRACE (IXL Noble Express x Gina Afire), B: Maroon Fire Arabian, Inc, O: Springwater Farms Arabians SILVER - CAPTAIN COURAGEOUS PA (Bucharest V x Autumn Tapestry), B: Wikel Arabians, O: Sally Wheeler Maier BRONZE - BASKE ALARM (Baske Afire x VF Fires Alarm), B: Valleyfield Farm, O: Donald and Corrine Allen ArAbiAn WeStern PleASure GOLD - MONTICELLO V ( Jullyen El Jamaal x Mosquerade V), B: Varian Arabians, O: Lesley Farms LLC SILVER - HOLDIN ACES (Arezzo NL x Hollygolitely DDF), B/O: Joelle and Robert Wright BRONZE - MPA KHARIANNE (Khadraj NA x MPA Noritake), B: Karen and Andrew Wilson, O: Flois and Cindy Burrow ArAbiAn Hunter PleASure GOLD - KLINT BLACK (Desperado V x Windsong Bey), B: Suzanne Eves, O: Flois and Cindy Burrow ArAbiAn nAtive CoStuMe GOLD - HL SANCTION (The Chief Justice x Overlook Seratifa), B: Jayne Solberg, O: Hawk Haven Farms LLC SILVER - EQ ESCALADE (Bucharest V x Allurience CG), B: EQ Training Center LLC, O: Dr. James Blevins and Kimberly Butler BRONZE – SQUEEZEBOX (IXL Noble Express x MF Afires Joy), B: Kimberley Kay Munro, O: Ronald Doerrer

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Arabian Country English Pleasure Gold Champion NOBLE GRACE (IXL Noble Express x Gina Afire), shown by Carol Skeuse-Hart, owner of Springwater Farms Arabians.

Arabian Western Pleasure Gold Champion MONTICELLO V ( Jullyen El Jamaal x Mosquerade V), shown by Joe Reser for owner Lesley Farms LLC.

Arabian Hunter Pleasure Gold Champion KLINT BLACK (Desperado V x Windsong Bey), shown by Wendy Shelton for owners Flois and Cindy Burrow. 78 | A R A BI A N HOR SE T I MES

Arabian Native Costume Gold Champion HL SANCTION (The Chief Justice x Overlook Seratifa), shown by Cathy Vecsey, owner of Hawk Haven Farms LLC. n

2015 NYC Central Park Show  
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