The Incredible Beauty of AJ Norah
Words by Samantha Mattocks Photography unless stated by Elisa Grassi
There are no two ways about it – AJ Norah is breathtaking. Her father graced the front of first edition of The Arabian Breeders’ Magazine last year, and one year on, this incredible yearling beauty is on our cover. There is something very fitting about this natural progression from father to daughter – celebrating the very best of the breeding programme of HH Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, the Crown Prince of Ajman and the founder of the much admired Ajman Stud in the United Arab Emirates.
AJ Norah is a filly that confounds; she is so exotic and so beautiful, it is almost as if she were not real. Yet, as a paradox against such exquisite femininity, she is strong and powerful; vibrant and exciting. A true blend of the elegance of the Versace bloodlines with the strength of the Balaton blood, AJ Norah is all of this – and more.
AJ Norah is sired by AJ Mardan, one of the most exciting stallions of current times and he, too, was bred by the Ajman Stud. Foaled in 2011, AJ Mardan is sired by the late, great Vervaldee, and there is so much of his sire about him. Vervaldee was sired by another incredible horse that passed away too soon, Versace, a son of the highly influential stallion Fame VF (Bey Shah x Raffoleta-Rose by Raffon out of Leta Rose), who combines the fabulous Gainey bloodlines with those of Bey Shah. Vervaldee’s dam, Giavanna, reinforces these lines being sired by NV Beau Bey (Bey Shah x Bint Miss Fired by Gdansk out of Miss Fire) and out of Precious as Gold, a daughter of El Shaklan (Shaker El Masri x Estopa by Tabal out of Uyamia) and out of Autumn in Gold (Classy McCoy x Julieann by Baarouf out of Mailace). Bred in the US by John Brown and Robert Williams at Rojo Arabians, Vervaldee was then purchased by Andrea and Paul Taylor of Tucana Arabians in the UK. Those astute breeders who chose Vervaldee were rewarded with typey, beautiful foals that went on to garner championships across Europe. Vervaldee was first leased, and then sold to, the Ajman Stud in the United Arab Emirates, and the impact he had on the mares of this stud was significant. For there, with access to some of the most beautiful mares in the world, Vervaldee sired incredible offspring that would take titles across the Middle East before turning their attention on Europe. These included the multiple champion mare AJ Siyadah (ex Sweet Caroline LL by Legacy of Fame by Legacy of Gold out of Fames Elegance C) and, of course, AJ Mardan.
Looking to AJ Mardan’s dam, we have the nine-year old ethereal beauty Felicia RLC. She was the 2010 Arabian Breeders’ World Cup Junior Female Champion in Las Vegas and the same year, she took the Reserve Junior Female Championship in Scottsdale. Felicia is sired by Shael Dream Desert, a son of the straight Egyptian Ansata Shaamis (Ansata Halim Shah x AK Faressa by Prince Fa Moniet out of AK Nameesa) and out of Elettra by World Champion Hadidi (Norus x Hebet Allah by Morafic out of Sohier II), also a straight Egyptian. However, Elettra herself brings in Russian lines through her dam, Afrodite (Andoy x Papele by Prizrak out of Parijanka). Mention must be made to AJ Mardan’s maternal granddam, the wonderful Camelia K. Bred by Murilo Kammer, she is sired by Donatello K (Encore Ali x Liberty Bey C by Bey Shah out of Siiri) and out of Cameo Bey (Bey Shah x Tsylvestra by Tsatyr out of Bar Nuhacz), thus bringing more of the Polish/Crabbet lines, as well as the input of Ali Jamaal (Ruminaja Ali x Heritage Memory by El Magato out of Heritage LaBelle) through Donatello K.
Looking to AJ Norah’s damline, we have the much admired Inspired Najla, a six-year-old chestnut mare who has captivated those who have seen her in show-rings around Europe and the Middle East. Bred in Germany by the Schick family, his incredibly showy mare has won titles across Europe and the Middle East. She is sired by Ajman Moniscione, a stallion well known for putting an exotic head on his progeny, who is in turn sired by WH Justice (Magnum Psyche x Vona Sher-Renea by El Sher-Mann out of Renea). Ajman Monsicione’s dam doubles up on the Padron (Patron x Odessa by Bright Wings) blood found in WH Justice as she is Anthea Moniscione, a daughter of Padrons Ghibli (Padron x Santana’s Delight by MS Santana out of Dalightful). Anthea Moniscione herself is out of the mare Armonia, who combines Polish, Russian and Crabbet lines being by Aktszn (Negatraz x Astraga by Meridian out of Aspasja) and out of Anette (Nariadni x CL Anisette by Silver Century out of Margerita).
Inspired Najla’s damline is particularly interesting as it is pure Russian – with, of course, the influence of the historical Polish stallions used by the Russians during the time of the Second World War. Inspired Najla’s dam is Natalia, a beautiful bay mare with the great Balaton (Menes x Panagia by Aswan out of Pustinia), a stallion dubbed ‘the horse of the century’, as her grandsire on both sides of her pedigree. Natalia is sired by Narym (Balaton x Nemara by Neman out of Lenta) and out of Nebylica (Balaton x Nitroza by Topol out of Nastavnitsa). Natalia has been a very important dam, with Inspired Najla being just one of several stars that she has foaled.
All in all, AJ Norah’s pedigree is one of modern, exotic beauty combined with traditional Arabian type. She has, in her immediate pedigree, seven crosses to Priboj, six crosses to Bask, and four each to Bey Shah, Aswan, Nazeer, Nabeg, and Arax. She also has three crosses to Mammona, one of the most celebrated of all mares, who survived the walk from Poland to Russia as a foal. It is little wonder that AJ Norah combines both exceptional beauty and an exotic look with balance, structure and strength. On paper, hers is a pedigree to be reckoned with; in reality, she more than meets expectations.
There is no doubt that AJ Norah has all the ingredients to make her a formidable force in the show-ring – and, later, as a broodmare. From her sire, she has inherited his striking beauty, elegance, expression and attitude. From the dam comes more beauty, extreme movement, and correctness – which is, of course, not to say that each horse has added these individual attributes. Rather, both have combined with the very best of each other, to create the very best.
AJ Norah is extremely feminine and she truly has to be seen to be believed. She made her show-ring debut earlier this year, talking the Gold Yearling Filly Championship at the Tulip Cup Show. AJ Norah followed this up with the Silver Yearling Filly Championship at the Wels International A Show in Austria, and went on to claim another Gold in the Yearling Filly Championship at the Bruges International Show. Then, competing against two- and three-year olds, she was named Silver Junior Female Champion in Ströhen, Germany.
Later this month, AJ Norah faces her biggest competition to date as she competes against the very best yearling fillies at the All Nations’ Cup in Aachen. However, she won’t be the only AJ Mardan progeny to be at the show, as AJ Azzam and Ghadeer AM will also be present.
For AJ Mardan, it seems, is not only a great sire; his is a line that consistently wins. A multiple champion himself – including Gold Junior Male Champion at the Ströhen International Show and Gold Yearling Colt Champion at the All Nations’ Cup in Aachen, as well as Bronze Yearling Male World Champions – AJ Mardan has produced many winning progeny, of which AJ Azzam has to be the biggest start to date.
AJ Azzam (ex Ysadora by Marwan Al Shaqab out of Ysabela by Parys El Jamaal) is a European Triple Crown Champion, having taken the Gold titles at the All Nations’ Cup, the European Championships, and Paris World Championships. His full sister, AJ Nurai, was the 2016 Gold Yearling Filly Champion at Al Khalediah Arabian Horse Festival in Poland, and Silver Yearling Filly Abu Dhabi International 2017. And then there is AJ Mardan’s two-year old daughter, the chestnut filly AJ Rafiqa (ex AJ Rahifa by Ajman Moniscione out of Thee Rahiba by BJ Thee Mustafa), who has been twice named Gold, at the AHO World Cup in Chantilly last year and then at the Bruges International Show back in May this year.
AJ Azzam is now three-years old, and he will once again be going for the Triple Crown title – something that no junior horse has ever won twice before. Certainly, he has the quality and the charisma, and it will be wonderful to see him again now he is more mature.
Ghadeer AM, however, will be competing in the yearling filly classes alongside AJ Norah. A bay daughter of AJ Mardan, Ghadeer AM is out of Ghazalat Al Mohamadia (EKS Bey al Gazal x Hafati Savanna by RSD Dark Victory out of Fames Delight), and was bred by Al Mohamadia Stud in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Already named Gold Yearling Filly Champion at the Dubai International Arabian Horse Championships this year, there is no doubt that Ghadeer AM will be representing her sire well.
However, I have a feeling that all eyes will be on AJ Norah. This is a filly who dances, who catches your eye – and takes your heart with it. All the AJ Mardan babies are special – it just happens that AJ Norah is more special than most, and this is an Arabian whose name will