04 Feb 2022

Sultan: “Flanders embryos now under saddle, that gives confidence’

“You buy hope and you have to wait for it for a few years, but when you see those horses jump, you can only get really enthusiastic.” Sultan Mohammed Khalifa Al Yahya'ie, frontman of the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club (SERC) in the Emirates, is looking forward to the Flanders Embryo Auction that will take place tomorrow, Saturday 5 February.

For the fifth time, with one year’s interruption because of the pandemia, the Flanders team has landed again in Sharjah, close to Dubai. It is literally and figuratively a warm welcome. Not a cloud in the sky, a genial atmosphere and the riders feel at home. At SERC, this weekend, there is a CSI3* and CSI1* competition with riders from all over the world, followed by a 5* show next week.

Five years ago, riders from Europe were invited to start and come over free of charge, but since then the tour in the Emirates has become so popular that European riders have to pay to be allowed to start there. “Do not believe that you can win a 1.40m class here with a normal horse. The level is very high also here”, Belgian showjumping rider Constant Van Paesschen explains.

Own breeding and embryo’s

The development of the showjumping sport in his own country has been the target of the Sultan for many years. But when you want to jump, you need horses. “The days in which we bought Grand Prix horses are behind us. They were expensive then and now even more so. You sometimes hear: ‘The price of horses will drop’, but it does not happen. Good horses will always be expensive. So our club needed another strategy. And part of that is doing our own breeding and buying embryo’s.” 

The first embryo’s SERC bought in the first Flanders Embryo Auction are now 5-yr-olds and have gained some experience in classes jumped at home. “We can now all see what the results are and I noticed that more and more people ask questions about the auction and the course to be followed after. When you buy an embryo, you buy hope. Once you have got them under saddle, though, everyone can see what you have got and confidence grows enormously. In combination with taking out an insurance it is a really good investment.”

“We can not breed horses here. Oh, it does happen occasionally, but for a good development they are better off in Europe. In the field, with special care and the right feed. It still works out cheaper over there, by the way, than keeping them here. So we have them reared in Europe, saddle-broken and gain their first competition experience. Then they come back and we continue their training .”

Sultan Mohammed Khalifa Al Yahya'ie has noticed that the Flanders Embryo Auction has become more popular in the Emirates than before. “The fact that they can now see how the horses from the auction are doing, encourages them to take the same route. Of course, we all hope that they will become Grand Prix horses, but when they do not make that level, we still have a place for them. As a club we have Grand Prix riders, but also amateur riders, juniors, young riders, children and the riding school. So there will always be a place for the horse.”

It is a first for SERC to have two embryos in the auction itself, bred out of mares that have won a World Cup qualifier and have solidly proven themselves at 1.60m level. They offer a Conthargos out of a Cha Cha Cha (Chacco Blue) and a Chacoon Blue out of a Cacharel (Coltaire). “Two excellent mares that have completed their sport careers. We have three embryo’s from each. We keep one from each mare ourselves and we decided to put the other ones on offer. The demand was enormous, so we will try the Flanders auction. It is going to be an exciting adventure.”