COVER STORY - EKS Alihandro - The Untamed

Page 1


EKS ALIHANDRO by Jeff Wallace and Evie Tubbs Sweeney

Those of us who love the Arabian breed yearn for horses that offer more than breathtaking beauty … it’s those rare horses that exude the joyfulness and sheer power of their inner spirit. EKS Alihandro is such a horse. We are drawn to him not only for his achievements, but for how he makes us feel. EKS Alihandro was fashioned in spirit long before his conception in South Africa by noted breeder Willie Brown of Elkasun Arabian Stud. Willie says he had long dreamed of crossing Marwan Al Shaqab onto the gorgeous Padrons Psyche daughter, OFW Psylhouette. Using his last Marwan breeding, Willie gave life to his dream. EKS Alihandro was foaled on March 10, 2010. “I vividly remember the day Alihandro was born,” he says. “It will remain imprinted on my memory for as long as I live. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I – a small breeder from South Africa – would breed a horse of such stature.” Stature indeed. The young sensation seemed wise beyond his years, owning arenas with a level of confidence normally only displayed by seasoned show horses. Even then, his entrances were spectacular. As a yearling he was crowned 2011 Gold Champion South African Junior Male, the first of many triumphs. It was obvious to Willie that his colt was destined for a stage larger than he could provide in South Africa. Enter Athbah Stud.


“What makes him different from every other horse I’ve seen is the magic that happens from the collecting arena to the showring. He transforms. He enters the ring, and you can feel the adrenaline. He is a once-in-a-lifetime horse.” ANTONIA BAUTISTA - BAUTISTA VICH STUD, SPAIN

Alihandro (Marwan Al Shaqab x OFW Psylhouette), 2010 stallion, winning 2016 All Nations Cup Gold Champion Senior Stallion.


Trainer Giacomo Capacci takes a victory lap at Alihandro’s last show - the 2016 World Championships in Paris.

Led by HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al Saud, Athbah Stud of Saudi Arabia has played a leading role on the global Arabian horse stage. EKS Alihandro, even as a gangly two-year-old, made an impression on the Prince. The farm’s then-manager, Ward Bemong, was sent to South Africa, and soon the deal was done. Athbah flew its precocious colt to the small renaissance village of Cortona, Italy, home of Giacomo Capacci’s training center. Even after months of quarantine and exhausting overseas travel, Alihandro bounced off the trailer in March 2012. Giacomo had never witnessed that level of energy and presence … especially in a two-yearold. “He was bouncing, trotting, snorting, tail up, curious and open to his new world,” Giacomo recalls. “Everyone at the farm simply stopped and stared. For a moment, we were frozen.”

preserved his fire. Rather than traditional training, Giacomo played with Alihandro, allowing him to be himself at the end of the lead. It turned out to be a wise move. The pair became a popular duo in show arenas around Europe and the Middle East beginning in 2012, with comfortable wins as Gold Champion Junior Stallion at both the Prague Intercup and the prestigious All Nations Cup in Aachen, Germany. In 2013, EKS Alihandro achieved a physical maturity that finally equaled his charisma. He won Gold Champion Junior Stallion titles in Dubai, then Menton (where the show announcer called him a “phenomenon”), and once more in Aachen at the All Nations Cup where he joined an elite group to win back-to-back at that esteemed show. It was the perfect

Giacomo soon realized that he had a superstar on his hands, and his staff treated Alihandro in a way that

entrée to his biggest test yet: The 2013 World Arabian Horse Championships in Paris.


Alihandro’s fan base had grown, but it was in the City of Lights that he delivered a moving and electric performance that earned him the 2013 Gold World Champion Junior Stallion title, unanimously. By that time, he was highly sought after by breeders.

“Every time he takes the first step into a show arena, he gives me goosebumps. I find him very touching.” MARIO MATT MARIO MATT ARABIANS, AUSTRIA

It seemed the perfect time for EKS Alihandro to return to Cortona. There he enjoyed quiet days in his paddock with only the chimes of the ancient Cortona clock tower ringing in the distance. It was Alihandro’s time to prove himself as a sire. His breeder, Willie Brown, bred one of Alihandro’s earliest winners, the gorgeous grey stallion, EKS Mansour (x EKS Phateena) who captured one title after another in Europe and the Middle East. Athbah Stud used EKS Alihandro on its mare band and was rewarded with outstanding offspring such as Rewayah Athbah (x Fedora RG), who won Gold World Champion Yearling Filly in Paris in 2015 in one of the deepest classes on record. The colt Gabel Athbah (x Meqbilat Athbah), foaled in 2015, won consecutive Gold Junior Colt Championships at the Prince Sultan Arabian Horse Festival in 2017 and 2018, as well as 2018 Bronze World Champion Junior Colt in Paris. Alihandro was becoming known as a breeder’s dream, combining balance and beauty. But he added one more aspect, the “Alihandro Ace.” He consistently passed

on his own inner fire, emboldening the Arabian horse breed once more. In fact, his fiery performances earned him his promotional tagline, “The Untamed.” In 2016, with Alihandro now a senior stallion, HRH Prince Abdulaziz felt the showring calling once more. Alihandro was ready. He was more beautiful, more powerful, more provocative than ever before. It was time to thrill his audiences once more. Alihandro and Giacomo began their final round on the beaches of France at the Mediterranean Championship Show in Menton. “When he trotted into the arena, I knew immediately that he was the horse to beat,” says Joe Polo, one of the five international judges to name him Gold Champion Stallion. EKS Alihandro’s second stop was to Germany, once more for the All Nations Cup. There, he made history by being named Gold Champion for an unprecedented third time, now as a Senior Stallion. Many refer to this show as his most stirring performance to date. Alihandro commanded the arena. The louder the audience cheered, the more exuberant he became. “That night in Aachen, Giacomo and Alihandro put on the most dynamic presentation I have ever witnessed,” says Doug Dahmen, longtime breeder and one of Alihandro’s judges that evening. “From the moment he entered the ring, one got the impression that he was fully aware that he was the king. Trotting, neck bowed, tail flagging, rearing, striking, challenging the other entries from afar … he seemed nearly out of control … ‘untamed,’ as they called him. But he settled down into a beautiful presentation in front of us judges, which culminated with a kiss on the nose from Giacomo and a bounding trot out of the arena.”



HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al Saud, Athbah Stud of Saudi Arabia, visits with Alihandro in Cortona, Italy.

Noted American breeder, Janina Merz of Om El Arab, recalls the experience. “EKS Alihandro’s entrance into the ring that night is one that will forever be etched in my memory,” she said. “He was the epitome of machismo: big, bold, beautiful, and so full of himself that he had the gall to challenge the bronze foal statue in the ring. He made the hair on my arms stand up. It was spectacular.” Alihandro brought the house down by winning the Four-to-Six-Year-Old Stallion class with a score of 95, which included a staggering fourteen perfect 20s, and

the highest score of the show. At the same show, he was voted 2016 Horse of the Year in Arabian Horse World magazine’s poll. It was difficult to imagine a more captivating performance than the one Alihandro delivered in Aachen, but one last dance remained – his grand finale at Paris. With the same confidence Giacomo witnessed as a two-year-old bounding off that trailer, EKS Alihandro


entered the World Championship arena with absolute authority. The class, the judges, the crowd … he owned all of it, bringing time to a standstill. History was being made and the crowd knew it.

“He knows every arena is his and makes sure to let everyone know, as if he doesn’t want any visitors in the house. It is a pleasure to see Alihandro presented or shown; each performance is packed with power and joy.” JOSY EVERARS NESJ ARABIANS, BELGIUM

The judges agreed. At just six years old, EKS Alihandro was pronounced unanimous Gold World Champion Senior Stallion under the glittering Parisian lights, a fitting conclusion to his heartwarming show ring career. Murillo Kammer, noted Brazilian breeder and one of the judges to crown him champion at both World Championships, described it perfectly, “He fills the

arena with such energy that he leaves little room for the judges not to choose him.” After the 2016 World Arabian Horse Championships, Alihandro returned to Italy and resumed his breeding career, siring champion after champion, with a propensity for passing along his fire and courage to his sons and daughters. His awe-inspiring performances, along with his prowess as a sire, make it clear that Alihandro was “created to create.” He joins a handful of breeding stallions such as Padrons Psyche, Bey Shah, Gazal Al Shaqab, and Morafic, who have earned that distinction. “From day one, EKS Alihandro has been nothing short of Arabian horse royalty,” says HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al Saud. “We acquired him when he was just a few months old and he has gone on to bring many prestigious titles home to Athbah Stud. Owning a horse of such magnitude both as a show horse and sire is a very rare treasure. From his wins in Dubai, Menton, Aachen, and Paris to watching his daughter, Rewayah Athbah, crowned World Champion, EKS Alihandro has given us so many wonderful memories, and I know there are more ahead!”

EKS Alihandro was the unanimous 2016 Gold World Champion Senior Stallion in Paris.


Janina Merz and her late mother, Sigi Siller, rarely outcrossed their linebred mares to outside stallions, yet both ladies, unbeknownst to the other, chose EKS Alihandro as a match for one of their star broodmares, Om El Excella, in 2015. The resulting filly, Om El Erodite, exceeded their imagination. Sigi passed away just six weeks before Om El Erodite was born. Janina believed the filly to be a gift from her mother.

the Marquis Invitational Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona,

In February 2017, less than three months after EKS Alihandro was crowned in Paris, Erodite was offered at

In 2019, the Scottsdale Show saw more outstanding EKS

where she became the high-selling lot of the evening for $1.55 million. It remains a record for the Marquis Auction to this day. Om El Erodite, now owned by Beloveds Farm, went on to win in Vegas and then took Bronze World Champion Yearling Filly in Paris later that year.

Alihandro fillies. MD Alihandra (x MD Mirka), bred

E K S A L I H A N D R O > 10 < W O R L D

“The way he enters the ring is better described as a conquering of the arena. Alihandro’s pride gave me goosebumps every time.” DR. NILS ISMER ISMER STUD, GERMANY

and owned by Manuel Durini, won the Scottsdale Junior Filly Championship, while Aria Venetian Lace (out of the decorated mare BF Beijings Velvet) claimed Scottsdale International Gold Champion Junior Filly for the Khidam El Shawan Partners. In early 2020, two gorgeous black fillies sired by Alihandro made a stir soon after their birth, selling for astounding figures as weanlings. Aisha K (x Annika) was bred by Murillo Kammer and is now owned by Aria Prestige Holdings. And Maleficent ENB (x Symphony of

Love) was bred by Michael Weinstein of Psynergy Equine and is now owned by Eric and Karen England. On the strength of these superb youngsters, a number of breeders sought to stand Alihandro in America. Athbah’s answer was always, “No”… until ... Representing both Athbah and Sahara Scottsdale public relations, Ally Nelson lobbied for Alihandro to come to the United States. He arrived at Sahara Scottsdale on January 28, 2020, and the reception was grand.

E K S A L I H A N D R O > 11 < W O R L D

Jeff Sloan, one of the owners of Sahara Scottsdale, has this to say about the horse. “You don’t just see Alihandro, you feel him. His contributions to our programs are immeasurable: his daughters, Aria Venetian Lace and the young, spectacular Aisha are valuable additions to our program; Om El Erodite, who sold for $1.55 million at our inaugural Marquise Auction; and some of our most valuable broodmares who are currently carrying his foals. He reminds you why you first fell in love with the Arabian horse. He is joy embodied.”

demeanors whose foals by Alihandro were full of energy and confidence, traits that elevate a horse among his competition. We are so fortunate to have Alihandro in America. I have great respect for this horse. “I consider EKS Alihandro to be among the greatest Arabian horses alive today,” Andy adds. “He possesses the strongest, most commanding energy of any horses I’ve ever met. When I stand next to him, I feel like I’m standing next to a movie star. I think he is unbeatable in the showring.”

Among the outstanding mares who are in foal to Alihandro for 2021 are RP Miss Surprise (WH Justice x Nefertarji), the cornerstone broodmare of Aljassmiya Farm; Om El Aisha Aljassimya (WH Justice x Om El Aliha), a Bronze World Champion; Valentine HVP (DA Valentino x Angel of Marwan); Veronica GA (Versace x Echo Belle); Om El Excella (Al Lahab x Om El Bint Shaina), dam of Om El Erodite; Om El Sultanah (WH Justice x Om El Sofia); Honeys Delight RB (JJ Senor Magnum x Honeymoon FHP), a U.S. National, Scottsdale, and World Cup Champion Mare; Exxaltress (Excalibur EA x Vesperra), Scottsdale and U.S. National Champion; Aphrodite ENB (Titan AS x Carenza), U.S. National Champion; RD Challs Angel (Magnum Chall HVP x Bey Angel TGS); and Lady Dominica JSZ (Dominic M x Breta UB), highest selling lot at the 2020 Marquise Auction. Andy Sellman, former trainer for Sahara Scottsdale, notes Alihandro’s prepotency. “There is no question that he passes on his physical characteristics as well as his mental capacities. I can recall many mares with quiet

E K S A L I H A N D R O > 13 < W O R L D

Michael Carpio, Alihandro’s primary caretaker at Sahara Scottsdale, has this to say, “When he comes out of the

vivre’ and the pride of being an Arabian, Alihandro is both exemplary and necessary.”

stall, Alihandro exudes masculinity and extreme type. But one of his greatest attributes is his kindness and easy-going demeanor when it’s not show time. He’s truly a king of kings.” And Ally Nelson observes, “As an individual, he is as close to perfection as I have ever seen: conformationally correct, glorious size, commanding energy, and a distinct beauty that can only be fully appreciated in person.” Years from now, when we reflect on EKS Alihandro, it won’t be his résumé we’ll remember, or his number of champion progeny we’ll celebrate. It will be his spirit

Alihandro’s long-time trainer, Giacomo, is easily moved when he speaks about him. “He’s a dream horse,” Giacomo says. “A horse every breeder wants to use, that every owner wants to have at home, and that every trainer wants to show. This horse has made me a better handler and trainer. Since I was a little kid, I’ve always dreamed about experiencing a magical bond with a horse, like the fairy tales and story books talk about. And, Ali, when you and I are in the arena, I see nothing but you. You mesmerize me. You make the sounds, the lights, and the other horses disappear. I see you and only you. I feel only the emotion you transmit to me in that moment.”

that we hail. We will remember how Alihandro made us feel – how he delighted us. As Murillo Kammer notes, “In a time when quite a few horses have lost the ‘joie de

Maybe sometimes, the untamed is the most moving one of all.

E K S A L I H A N D R O > 14 < W O R L D

Standing at Sahara Scottsdale | Owned By Athbah Stud | Managed by Giacomo Arabians | | 480.980.9826