In the latest edition of The Arabian Breeders’ Magazine, Scott Benjamin shared an in-depth feature on Monogramm and the incredible influence he had at the Polish State Studs of Michałów and Janów Podlaski. While we will share this feature over the coming weeks, today, 10 February, marks the celebrated Kwestura’s 27th birthday. Happy birthday to this beautiful living legend!
Monogramm at Michałów State Stud, Poland. Credit Fotograf Mattsson
December 2000 – the Salon du Cheval, Paris, France. The new millennium was about to be ushered in by a revolution, one that would not only transform the World Arabian Championships in its third decade of existence but would redefine the standard of excellence for the Arabian show horse worldwide and forever raise expectations of what the Arabian mare could and should be.
The Polish State Studs, Michałów and Janów Podlaski, travelling together as Team Poland, had once again made the transcontinental journey at the onset of winter to showcase the best of their respective breeding programmes to breeders from across the globe. No strangers to success at the World Championships since the very beginning of this prestigious event, what would unfold over the course of the next three days would rewrite the historical record in epic proportions, forever elevating the fame and fortune of the Polish Arabian horse and exalting the name of one monumentally influential sire into legend – Monogramm.
By the time the final rose garland was sashed on Sunday afternoon, four Michałów-bred horses were adorned in red: the enchanting Emmona (ex Emilda by Pamir) as World Champion Junior Filly; the electrifying Ekstern (ex Ernestyna by Piechur) as World Champion Senior Stallion; and a rapturous pair of global show-stoppers – Zagrobla (ex Zguba by Enrilo) and Kwestura (ex Kwesta by Pesennik) – as World Champion and World Reserve Champion Mare respectively. All four of these soon-to-be legendary show horses shared the same paternal source, the American-bred Monogramm (Negatraz x Monogramma by Knippel), whose name would forever be etched into the record books for this unprecedented, and yet unrivalled, triumph at the World Championships, a first, and now aspirational achievement, for both sire and breeder.
When future generations reflect upon the transformative time of Monogramm at Michałów, one name among all the cherished and celebrated daughters of the breed legend will resonate most decisively throughout history: the incomparable Kwestura. Superlatives are woefully inadequate when describing the most esteemed attributes of this once-in-a-lifetime mare, the daughter universally admired as the most like her sire in overall phenotype and appeal. Kwestura would be the very first of the Monogramm daughters to win the top championship title at the preeminent Polish National Show, capturing the Junior Female Championship with characteristic aplomb. Most astoundingly, the title of Polish National Senior Champion would elude her, having to settle for the premier bridesmaid position of Reserve Champion Senior Female on two occasions in 2000 and 2001. She remains the most highly decorated mare in Polish Arabian history never to have been properly honoured as National Champion in her homeland.
Kwestura on her way to her second World Championship title. Credit Fotogfraf Mattsson
Despite her denial in Poland, Kwestura would elevate the breed standard as a senior mare at the All Nations’ Cup and European Championships, the first two legs of the aspirational European Triple Crown, winning the former as a mere four-year old in 1999, and the latter just weeks before her record-breaking run in Paris with her siblings in 2000. Most amazingly, Kwestura would repeat her wins at both events, upgrading to Gold Champion at the European Championships in 2009 at age 14, and at the All Nations’ Cup five years later at 19 years young, in a transcendent performance that defied her age as well as several laws of physics.
Denied the World Championship title at the start of the millennium, Kwestura would return to Paris as the triumphant queen a record three more times, as World Gold Champion Senior Female in both 2007 and 2009 in open competition, and one final time in 2014 as World Platinum Champion Mare following her destiny-altering appearance in Aachen, looking as youthfully exuberant as she did on her first appearance in the City of Lights a decade and a half earlier. Kwestura will also be forever remembered as the first of the Michałów-bred Monogramm daughters to wow North American audiences as 2002 US National Champion Mare while on lease to Mike Nichols, a unanimous victory that would establish the standard of excellence to which all her paternal sisters to follow her to the world’s largest competitive arena, including Zagrobla, Elandra, Fallada and Egzonera, would aspire.
In between her record-setting World Senior Mare Gold Championships, Kwestura was offered as the main attraction in the 2008 Pride of Poland auction, selling, after much hotly contested bidding, to Ajman Stud in the UAE for a princely sum of €1.125 million, smashing the ceiling for the highest price ever paid for a Polish-bred Arabian at public auction. Prized by Sheikh Ammar Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Kwestura would bring further glory to his royal stud at Menton in 2009, winning the All Mediterranean and Arab Countries Gold Championship, and closer to home in Dubai in 2010, as DIAHC Gold Champion Senior Female with a record high score.
Kwestura at 24. Credit Elisa Grassi
Under the stewardship of Michałów Stud, Nichols Arabians, and Ajman Stud, Kwestura would not only become the most successful show mare in Arabian breed history, but she would also do so across the longest span of time – a total of nineteen seasons – from her first optimistic victory in Poland as a bright-eyed yearling in 1996, to her final triumph as the seasoned icon in her Platinum World Championship victory lap in 2014. It was often remarked among the judges that 20 points were simply not enough in the categories of type, head and neck, and movement to reward Kwestura when she was at her most glorious. I would argue that 200 points would be insufficient to properly award her unsurpassed quality and refinement, her utterly enthralling presence and charisma, and her unrivalled command of her surroundings. Kwestura had the remarkable ability to bend the universe to her will when she was in her element, bringing many an admirer to tears in the show-ring, including an emotional Sylvie Eberhardt during the legend’s first trip to the winner’s circle in Paris. Elisa Grassi, who is blessed with the privilege of enjoying Kwestura on a daily basis at the Frank Spönle Training Centre in Germany, is still astounded by the youthful energy and zest for life the ‘Queen of the Ring’ still exhibits on her daily trek to and from the paddock at 26 years of age. Again, so much like her sire in every aspect, Kwestura is aging with perfection, embodying the best of the classically authentic Arabian horse.
Kabsztad (Poganin x Kwestura by Monogramm). Credit Sylwia Iłenda
The legacy of Kwestura lives on around the world through subsequent generations of multi-champion descendants, including twice Polish National Gold Champion and twice European Silver Champion Kabsztad (by Poganin), US National Reining Futurity Champion Kubla Khan NA (by Monar), Pacific Slope Champion Kassandra NA (by Baske Afire) and the prolific producer Kashmir NA (by Bravado Bey V). At Ajman Stud, Kwestura has blessed the programme with two promising daughters, AJ Noor Kwestura (by Aja Justified) and AJ Kahayla (by QR Marc), the latter the dam of Menton, Dubai and All Nations’ Cup Gold Champion and World Silver Champion AJ Kafu (by Shanghai EA), now serving as chief sire at his maternal stud.
AJ Kafu, grandson of Kwestura. Credit Gigi Grasso
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