Christine Jamar from Jadem Arabians from Balen and the European Congregation for the Promotion of Arabian Horses vzw (Ecpah) are already busy with the preparations. On October 28, the United Crown Cup for Arabian Horses will take place, in which any Arabian thoroughbred horse registered in a recognized studbook can participate. Many horse owners from the Middle East also participate, who often already have some horses in training here. Or flying special animals in the run-up to the World Championship for Arabian Thoroughbred horses, which will take place in November this year in Paris. On October 29 and 30, it will be the two-day European Championship divided into six categories, with the senior mares and senior stallions as the icing on the cake.
“The European Championship is organized alternately in Belgium and Italy, because the best Arab trainers live there,” explains Christine Jamar. “One year the people from the south have to drive a little further with their animals, the next year those from the north. The first time we organized it in Ostend in 1987. This was followed by Moorsele and the Azelhof in Lier, who alternated somewhat. Now we chose Lier again. Since the European Championship could not take place in 2020, it is now a little longer ago for Belgium.”
It will be the first European Championship without Charlie Watts, the drummer of the Rolling Stones, who died at the end of August 2021 and was a personal acquaintance of Jamar. She hopes that his now 84-year-old widow Shirley Ann Shepherd will join the party. “The love for Arabian thoroughbreds actually came from Shirley, but Charlie Watts fully supported her and attended the championships as well. I know she will continue the stud farm, because she recently bought a horse in Poland through a straw man at an auction in Poland,” says Jamar. “In any case, we will welcome her with open arms when she comes, because they were always very sweet, affable people.”
According to Jamar, the brothers of the emir and the Saudi princes are also a bit like you and me in dealing with them. “Ordinary people in costume, they can walk down the street incognito here. In manners, I find it much easier to have a conversation with people from the Middle East than with Chinese people, for example. We don’t have to provide special security for them. They arrange their own hotel in Brussels and have their own bodyguards and entourage with them. In the Middle East, the European Championships are followed via live stream. There is a lot of respect for the quality of our horses there. When I started 35 years ago, the breeding of Arabian thoroughbreds in their country of origin had been completely neglected. Sheikhs spent their money on other luxuries such as boats, villas and wagons. But in the Qur’an it is described that the prophet Mohammed instructs to cherish the horse as an ornament. He made the purebred breeding of the Arabian desert horse a religious obligation. At a certain point the sheikhs and the emirs started to focus on this again. At that time there were already very good breeders, trainers and caretakers in Europe.
The Russian Arabs are also of great quality. Will Russians also come to the European Championship? “They are more concerned with racehorses than with show horses. So there will be no Russians. We keep it family.”
Who will probably be there is Antwerp chairman Paul Gheysens. He has a former world champion in his stable with 17-year-old QR Marc. Price for a deck? About 10,000 euros. Gheysens will probably come with some offspring of his topper.
Last year Christine Jamar won gold herself with her young Arabian thoroughbred stallion Muranas during the first edition of the Katara Arabian Horse Festival in Qatar. Good for 212,000 euros and a gold breastpiece of more than half a kilo, finished with 545 diamonds and four rubies for her horse. Even Chinese President Xi Jinping has a Jamar-bred champion in his stable. He received it as a gift from the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
The average stud fee for a top Arabian stallion is 5,000 euros. But the really exclusive semen quacks go up to 15,000 and even 30,000 euros. Golden seed! “That is, for example, from an almost unavailable stallion somewhere in a stud farm in Dubai,” says Jamar.