The Arabian breeding programmes of Poland have long been world-renowned for producing with great consistency Arabian horses true to the ancient tradition of the authentic desert horse, equines not only celebrated for their exceptional beauty, confident, commanding presence, and aristocratic quality, but for their inherent athletic capability, courageous tenacity and versatile utility. It is upon these principles and traditions, inherited from the royal and noble breeding programs dating back to the 15th century, that the modern State Studs of Poland have created their foundation of excellence, made manifest in the countless number of iconic Arabian horses produced in the modern era, hailing from a score of time-tested and trusted dam families and sire lines of consummate merit.
Georgia at the 1995 Polish Nationals. Credit Fotograf Mattsson
Of these celebrated dam families, the line of Gazella or.ar., one of the three monumentally important ‘Pearls of the Desert’ imported by Count Dzieduszycki to his Jarczowce Stud in Poland in 1845, has arguably had the greatest influence on the present state of Arabian breeding in Poland more than any other. Through multiple meritorious matrons descending from the original import, the line of Gazella has flourished for 170 years, positively impacting Arabian breeding in every respect. Unquestionably, one of the original Gazella’s most famous descendants was a great-granddaughter six generations removed, who most appropriately was honoured with her family namesake as Gazella II. This decidedly strong, sturdy, robustly broody mare was the favourite of then Director Stanisław Pohoski at Janów Podlaski, her interwar home where she would go on to found, through insightful mating decisions, the most significant group of descendants in 20th century Polish Arabian breeding. Among these were six significant daughters – two sets of full sisters Elegantka and Fryga II (by Bakszysz) and Makata and Najada (by Fetysz) as well as Jaskółka II (Koheilan I) and Taraszcza (by Enwer Bey) – and one important son Hardy (by Ganges I), who would become an important sire, especially as the maternal grandsire of the immortal Estokada. Almost all of these Gazella II daughters proved ideal mates for the young Ofir, the most important of all the interwar stallions who revolutionised Arabian breeding worldwide. From these resulting foals, three of the most influential stallions of post-war Poland would be created, namely Witraż (Ofir x Makata), Wielki Szlem (Ofir x Elegantka) and Comet (Abu Afas x Carmen by Trypolis), a maternal grandson of Wilga (Ofir x Jaskółka II).
Georgia at Michalów in 2014. Credit Fotograf Mattsson
The other important mare created from crossing Ofir with daughters of Gazella II was a mare bred by Janów Podlaski, but lost as a foal in the mayhem of colliding empires in the autumn of 1939. Discovered by Arabian breeding specialist Adam Sosnowski three years later pulling a plough in a local field, he exclaimed ‘Ofirka’ – literally meaning daughter of Ofir – upon seeing her despite her condition and present occupation. Verified according to stud book records and her markings, which included a trademark blaze, as indeed the fifth daughter of Fryga II, Ofirka was repatriated into the Janów Podlaski breeding programme under Nazi control in 1943. Three years later, after making the evacuation on foot to Germany at the end of the war and returning to Poland via boat after the war, Ofirka delivered her first filly: Gastronomia (by Marabut).
Georgia at the 2010 Polish Nationals. Credit Fotograf Mattsson
The strongly built, decisively maternal bay Gastronomia would have the distinct honour of serving as a foundation mare at all three post-war State Studs, beginning at Albigowa, transitioning to Nowy Dwór, and finally finding her greatest success at Michałów under the insightful direction of master breeder Ignacy Jaworowski. She would leave quality produce behind at each stud, the origins of which would create the beginning of the ‘G’ family dynasty with the likes of World Champion Gondolier, Swedish National Champion Gokart and important UK sire Grojec, but it was at Michałów that Gastronomia would have her greatest impact through her final daughter and son: Gilza (by Espartero) and Gedymin (by Gwarny), respectively. Gedymin would go on to become a key sire at his maternal stud of invaluable broodmares and athletically capable sons with inherent talent on the racetrack, while Gilza in turn would prove herself the single most important source of G family success in show-rings and breeding barns around the world in the ensuing five decades.
Like the Ofirka descendants that remained in the Janów Podlaski breeding programme and that retained the ‘O’ family designation – horses such as Orla, Orgia, Orzeł and Origan, Gilza and the subsequent generations of her produce possessed an abundant talent for speed and courage, succeeding at the track with regularity and ease. The gift of beauty, elegance, and refinement, however, via the influence of her paternal grandsire Nabor (Negatiw x Łagodna) and granddam Ela (Miecznik x Lala), were a welcome bonus to this athletic heritage of racing prowess, propelling the descendants of Gilza forward with greater prepotency and prolificacy in the modern show-ring as horses of impeccable type and quality. The final tally for Gilza was seven influential daughters from thirteen lifetime foals, the product of which, includes, among many: Polish National Champion Grenlandia (Eukaliptus x Getynga by Palas), Polish and Swedish National Champion Girlan-Bey (Pesal x Gracja-Bis by Monogramm) and Canadian National Champion Gitar MF (Afire Bey V x Gitara by Eskimos).
Grenlandia (Eukaliptus x Getynga by Palas). Credit April Visel
The best of the Gilza daughters that remained at Michałów throughout her life was Gizela (by Palas), a two-time stakes winner at the racetrack and class winner at the Salon du Cheval born in 1977. Gizela epitomised the beautiful athlete so prized by the Polish breeders perfectly, with superlative structure and broody substance coupled with feminine elegance and captivating charm. One of my earliest and most riveting memories as a young man in Michałów was seeing Gizela in the stables on my first evening at the stud. In the quiet hours of dusk just after feeding, I recall walking past this extraordinarily designed hindquarter, with amazing width, capacity, and muscular definition, in a standing stall in the lower mare stable. Compelled by this magnificent structure, I stopped to appreciate this show white matron, just as she lifted her head from her manger of hay to turn her gorgeous face towards me. Not only was this mare superbly conformed, she was radiantly beautiful, with a perfectly proportioned head of exotic refinement and quality, and an ideally shaped and positioned neck with the softest, most feminine and effortlessly elastic turn to her throatlatch. I was enthralled, and remained an avid admirer of Gizela and her descendants from that day forward for embodying all the best characteristics of the authentic Arabian horse.
Galilea (Laheeb x Georgia). Credit Fotograf Mattsson
Gizela produced twelve foals of exemplary quality before her premature death in 1996. Of these, eight elite daughters have been champions in the show-ring, stakes winners on the racetrack and/or producers of both, with descendants achieving exponentially in the same endeavours across all six inhabited continents. The direct descendants of Gizela include winners of nine Triple Crown titles: three Derby winners – Gepard (Pamir x Giza), Gwaro (Bardysz x Gwarancja), and Don Carlos (Ganges x Decyzja); Oaks winners Geneza (by Pepton) and Garonna (by Fanatyk); and Criterium winners Gepard and Geneza. The Gizela daughter Gaskonia (by Probat) achieved Polish National Champion and Best in Show fame and glory at 19 years of age, the same year that her sons Gaspar (by Emigrant) and Grafik (by Eukaliptus) were named Polish National Champion and Reserve Champion, respectively. But the most successful cross with the Gizela dam line, that of the Bask grandson and international sire of significance Monogramm, first bore fruit in 1994 with the arrival of Georgia, and the Gizela grandson Ganges (ex Garonna), the latter a stakes winner, a Polish National Champion, an All Nations Cup and United States National Reserve Champion, and a prolific sire of continuing importance to the breed.
Galerida (Shanghia EA x Galilea ex Georgia). Credit Fotograf Mattsson
In retrospect twenty-two years on, the incorporation of Monogramm (Negatraz x Monogramma by Knippel) into the breeding programme at Michałów was a monumental decision that has had the greatest long-term impact on the positive progress in and modern success of Poland on the international stage. Several of the most important and influential horses in the breed worldwide were a product of this visionary breeding step, including household names such as Ekstern, Kwestura, Zagrobla, Palmira, Emmona, Elandra, Dębowiec, Fallada, Kordelas, Embra, Espadrilla, Furiat, Emocja, and the like. The combination was so successful with Gizela, it was repeated a second time to produce the elegant beauty Gehenna in 1995, exported to Australia in 2006 where she has since found fame as a broodmatron of repute and as an East Coast Champion Mare.
Gotico (WH Justice x Ginga ex Ginerva). Credit Fotograf Mattsson
Georgia, however, would remain on home soil to replace her illustrious dam, while exerting her own special brand of style and allure. Racing for two seasons on the track, Georgia proved her worth as a proficient athlete worthy of her illustrious heritage, starting fifteen times in her career, placing every time save once, and winning twice. Competing against the best of the Monogramm daughters in the show-ring throughout her life, Georgia settled for Top Five class finishes from her yearling year on, until she finally triumphed with the high score of the entire show, the class win for mares aged eleven and older, and the Polish National Silver Champion Mare title at an astounding 20 years of age in 2014. She followed this success with identical wins at the inaugural Al Khalediah European Festival a week later, taking home Silver Champion honours for the second time in her enduring show career. Having also achieved World Champion Top Ten Senior Mare accolades in 2009, Georgia continues to set the benchmark for the Arabian mare worldwide, aging with perfection, while retaining remarkable structural integrity, youthful agility and a classic refinement and regal elegance. True to her heritage, Georgia epitomises the quintessential Arabian mare of supreme beauty and extraordinary function from head to hoof.
Georgia at the Polish Nationals. Credit Fotograf Mattsson
As a broodmatron, Georgia can claim Aristocrat status as the dam of four champion produce for Michałów. True to the heritage of her dam and granddam, Georgia has been primarily a producer of quality daughters, beginning with her very first foal at the dawn of the new millennium. This ethereal creature was named Galilea, in keeping with the geographical naming tradition of the family, and is still universally considered one the most exquisite and feminine daughters of her esteemed straight Egyptian sire Laheeb (Imperial Imdal x AK Latifa). Competing as a young filly against paternal sisters and commanding show stars Emira (ex Embra by Monogramm) and Wieża Babel (ex Wiażma by Arbil), Galilea came into her own as mature mare, winning two of the most coveted titles in the breed as Polish National Champion Mare and World Champion Mare at five years of age. Despite suffering a stable injury that resulted in the loss of her right eye, Galilea remains the most important member of the Gilza-Gizela-Georgia dynasty still in residence at Michałów, with several good foals yet expected in the future.
Gemellia (Piber x Georgia). Credit Fotograf Mattsson
Galilea has since produced three champion daughters of her own, the eldest of whom is twice international Bronze Champion Senior Mare Gallia (by Galba), in turn the dam of KAHBS Bronze Champion Ghezlan Al Owanah (by Excalibur EA) and two full brothers by Shanghai EA: Białka Spring Show Silver Champion Gallius and UAE National Silver Champion Gall of Shanghai, the latter a successful sire of champions in the UAE. The most glorious of all the Galilea daughters is unquestionably the ultra-exotic Galerida (by Shanghai EA) who claimed the titles of Białka Spring Show Gold Champion Yearling Filly and Silver Champion Junior Filly as well as European and Polish National Bronze Champion Junior Filly while still in residence at Michałów. Now the pride of Al Thumama Stud, Qatar, Galerida has been one of the most reliable show-ring celebrities of the past decade, amassing such prestigious titles as Polish National and West Coast Cup Gold Champion Senior Mare, All Nations Cup, Dubai International, Menton and Sharjah International Bronze Champion Senior Mare and twice Top Ten at the World Championships as both a Junior Filly and a Senior Mare.
Gordion (Galba x Georgia). Credit Fotograf Mattsson
The second of the Georgia daughters has also proven herself a valued broodmare, with four produce of her own claiming show-ring success. This is Ginerva (by Werbum), born in 2001, and sold in foal to Galba to private breeding in Poland as a maiden mare. This first daughter, Ginga, was promoted as show mare internationally before producing her own champion offspring for Poland’s own M Arabians by WH Justice: Polish Spring Show class winner and Bronze Champion Junior Stallion Gotico. With Ekstern, Ginerva has been the dam of three international junior champion progeny for Stanisław Sławinksi and Waldemar Bąk: Forssa Gold Champion, L’Arte de Cavallo Silver Champion and Westfalen Bronze Champion Filly Gizelda; St. Pierre Bronze Champion Colt Gardens; and Kauber Platte Bronze Champion Gazir. Adding further gravitas to Ginerva’s production record, yet another daughter, Ginessa (by Shanghai EA), was honoured as Mercedes Cup Bronze Champion Junior Filly in Prague.
Georgia. Credit Fotograf Mattsson
World Champion Pilarka was blended with Georgia via her grandson Piber (Pamir x Pilina) to create Gemellia in 2005. This high trotting dynamo of show mare was sold twice in Pride of Poland, first in 2009 to Falborek Arabians, and again in 2014 to Marcella Haensch of Switzerland, after winning her class at the Polish National Show against many of the best mares in the breed and finishing Top Five in the Senior Mare Championship. Gemellia has since found fortune in North America as World Cup Champion Mare aged nine and over, East Coast Champion Senior Mare, US Arabian Open Bronze Champion Senior Mare, and US National Top Ten Senior Mare, trotting her way to perfect scores of 20 across the board on every occasion.
Georgetown (Gazal al Shaqab x Georgia). Credit H2 Photography
Georgia’s youngest Polish-bred daughter, the gifted athlete Gandahara (by Pegasus), was awarded Sentower Diamond Trophy Silver Champion and Arabian Horse Weekend Bronze Champion for owner Rob Heijmans of the Netherlands. Under his stewardship, Gandahara has since produced two champion progeny of her own: Sentower Futurity Filly Champion and Elran Cup Bronze Champion Gentildonna (by Morion) and Arabian Horse Weekend Gold Champion Grandissimo (by Emerald J).
Georgia. Credit Stuart Vesty (and lead photo)
Another of the big moving Georgia progeny is Gordion, a nine year old grey stallion sired by World Champion Galba (Plakat x Gza Gza). Having started 22 times in 2 seasons at the racetrack for owners Al Khalediah Farms, Poland, Gordion was a reliable runner with fifteen placings and three wins to his credit. He has since become a successful show horse in Poland and in Europe, as twice Westfalen Bronze Champion, Mercedes Benz European Cup Bronze Champion and Polish National Champion Top Five Senior Stallion.
Georgetown. Credit H2 Photography
Like many of the Monogramm daughters at Michałów, Georgia was bred to World Champion Gazal al Shaqab (Anaza el Farid x Kajora) in 2003. The resulting foal from this mating was the memorably named Georgetown, a grey stallion who is still redefining the standard of the beautiful modern Arabian athlete in the show-ring. Exported to Azrek Arabians, Republic of South Africa, as a two-year-old, Georgetown has since become Dr Wynand van der Westhuizen’s horse of a lifetime, amassing an almost improbable record of success as both a halter and performance horse all across the country. He is the only stallion in the history of the breed to be twice named National Champion as a halter horse and performance horse in the same year, a feat first accomplished in 2012 as South African National Champion Senior Stallion and National Champion Senior Show Hack, and again in 2015 as South African National Champion Stallion and National Champion Senior Native Costume Horse. To date, Georgetown has been rewarded, most remarkably, with over seventy titles both in hand as a junior and senior horse as well as under saddle across a variety of disciplines from Pleasure Driving, English Pleasure and Country English Pleasure, to Hunter Pleasure, Ridden Arabian Stallion, Show Hack and Mounted Native Costume. Looking fitter and more capable, as well as drier, more elegant and more refined with each passing year, Georgetown, in keeping with the family tradition of aging with perfection, looks to excel for many years to come as an iconic Arabian ambassador of both beauty and brawn.
Author Scott Benjamin (left) with Georgia at the memorable 2014 Polish National Championships. Credit Fotograf Mattsson
This past August, Georgia sold in Pride of Poland 2015 at 21 years of age for the worthy sum of €105,000 to Athbah Stud, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. She now resides in Belgium at Schoukens Training Centre near Bruges as the most esteemed matron in residence, settling in flawlessly among the growing population of mares from the State Studs. She was the star attraction at the annual open day following the All Nations Cup at the end of September, trotting with power and poise around the show paddock, stopping occasionally to snort and blow at her delighted and enraptured admirers.
Wherever destiny takes this magnificent mare, Georgia is inevitably assured to attract legions of avid enthusiasts, forever serving as the sterling example of everything the Arabian mare can and should be. Here’s to a world where mares like Georgia are the norm, not the exception. May the excellence that is Georgia be ever on our minds…
First printed in The Arabian Magazine October 2015. Buy your copy here.
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