Elias 494 back from Qatar: ‘He makes his own publicity’

Marc Peter Spahn - Elias 494 Gothenburg Horse Show 2020 © Digishots

March 1, 2021
Marc Peter Spahn – Elias 494 Gothenburg Horse Show 2020 © Digishots

On Monday afternoon the 1st of March Elias 494 was back again, healthy and happy, in his own stable at Stal Baron Spahn in Niebert. Marc Peter Spahn personally drove his stallion home in the horse truck from the airport in Liège. ‘I find great pleasure in looking back at our adventure in Qatar’, he says. ‘Taking part in international competitions certainly whets the appetite.’

Continuing on character

‘On the day of the freestyle Elias was completely back on form’, Peter says, looking back on a fine score of 71.055%. ‘In the ring he gave everything he had’, says Peter, explaining that the stallion was a little overwhelmed during the first Grand Prix test. ‘He was already slightly out of breath when we entered the ring, even before we had started the test. But he has such great mentality that in spite of that he gives everything in the test.’ That mentality is typical of Elias, his rider states. ‘He behaves like an angel during transport and is also very well-behaved in the stable, but once he enters the ring he gives 100% and perseveres, even though it was pretty demanding. That is exactly the kind of character needed for dressage at this level.’ ‘In the shade temperatures stayed around 24-25 degrees and there’s always a light breeze.’ The official riding hall even had acclimatised temperatures. ‘If you avoid the hot spells between 11.00am and 15.00pm the climate is not really that bad.’

Made an impression

The Friesian stallion attracted huge attention in Qatar. The Instagram photo of Elias 494 which the organisation posted received 500,000 likes within just a few days. Lots of people came to his box to see him from close-up. ‘After the first test we were stopped by security, who asked us to wait a minute’, Peter tells us. ‘Then some veiled ladies alighted from the grandstand to give him a pat. And we were not allowed to film that or take photos.’ The fine Friesian horse blends wonderfully well with the splendour and grandeur of Qatar. ‘Elias was a great success, by just being there he generated his own publicity.’

At the Sheikh’s invitation

Peter and Elias had travelled to Qatar on Sheikh Al Shaqab’s invitation. ‘And what to do with such an invitation?’ says Peter, who did not think twice. ‘You accept it’. The Sheikh paid for all the expenses of the journey as well as the accommodation of horse and grooms. The costs for all inspections and extra luggage were for Elias 494’s owners Linda Annell and Kristofer Johannsson from Sweden. ‘Every year they reserve part of Elias’ stud service moneys which can be invested back again in the sport’, Peter Spahn explains. ‘Otherwise we couldn’t afford it, unless you have very serious sponsors.’ He points out that it would be a good idea for the Studbook to make some funds available to enable top combinations to go to international events. ‘Say, two to three competitions per year. Then we can send one combination to each of these events. Expenses quickly mount up to € 2000 to € 3000 per competition but it does generate very good publicity.’ He therefore considers himself lucky with Elias’ owners. ‘Obviously, they’ve had loads of opportunities to sell him for a very good price. But they have the patience to give him time to develop in the sport.’ But realistically: ‘At some stage there will be a time when he gets sold.’

A breather for Elias 494

Back home again Elias 494 gets a bit of a breather, Peter – who has to self-quarantine – says. ‘Training will continue because you cannot just stop exercising him altogether. But we can ease off the competition pressure for a while.’ The Studbook stallion is the ‘King of the yard’ and quite evidently gets privileged treatment.’ Meanwhile the stud season has also begun, Peter points out. ‘The first mares are already in foal by Elias and applications are coming in again too.’