Ariaban Essence

The Triple Crown Series: AJ Azzam
By Samantha Mattocks

The European Triple Crown series is the hardest one to win as to win this coveted title, the horse has to take the Championship at the All Nations’ Cup in Aachen, the European Championship title, and the Paris World Championship title, all in the same season. For one horse to do this across just a short timeframe – with Aachen at the end of September, and Paris at the end of November – is a great achievement. It is also one that only 17 horses have managed since the very first Triple Crown winner in 1994.

In this first of The Triple Crown Series, we look at the most recent champion – the one and only . . . 

Aj Azzam

AJ Azzam
Photo by Elisa Grassi

AJ Azzam is the latest in a long line of champions – a line that comes down both through the sireline and damline of this superlative young colt. While it is not always true that champions breed champions, in AJ Azzam’s case, his is a pedigree steeped in history, and it is little wonder that this colt has done so well.

Bred at the famed Ajman Stud in the United Arab Emirates, owned by HH Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, AJ Azzam was foaled in 2014. Special from the moment he was born, last year Azzam made his shining debut on the show scene. His first show was the Tulip Cup – and would be the only show where he would not leave as champion, instead taking the Silver title. From there, however, there was no stopping him and Azzam grew in confidence and stature at each show. As the season went on, he garnered Gold titles at the Wels International Show, the Bruges International Show, the Elran Cup, and Al Khalediah European Arabian Horse Festival. From there, he then began his Triple Crown journey – one that culminated on that shining Sunday in Paris as, surrounded by lights, he took not only the Gold Yearling Male World Championship but also the Triple Crown title. An incredibly pretty colt, with great charisma and a naturally showy nature, it is fair to say that AJ Azzam commanded the show-ring in 2015 with ease.

AJ Azzam
Photo by Elisa Grassi

Azzam’s sireline is one that is very much at the heart of the Ajman Stud, as he is sired by the brilliant AJ Mardan, himself a many time champion and the winner of the first Yearling Colt Championship at the All Nations’ Cup. Out of the ethereal Felicia RLC (Shael Dream Desert x Camelia K), Mardan’s sire is the late, and very great, Vervaldee, himself a son of the great Versace (by Fame VF). Vervaldee was out of Giavanna (by NV Beau Bey), both being maternal half-siblings and out of Precious as Gold (El Shaklan x Autumn in Gold). This line has produced countless champions around the world, and Vervaldee was a key part of this. Owned in his latter years by the Ajman Stud, Vervaldee’s progeny have gone on to excel in both the show-ring and the breeding barn, and AJ Mardan has certainly made his mark, with Azzam from his very first foal crop. Indeed, the passing of Vervaldee last autumn left a huge hole in the heart of the Ajman Stud, one that AJ Azzam has helped to fill.

Photo by Stuart Vesty

AJ Mardan
Photo by Gigi Grasso

Looking to the damline, AJ Azzam is out of the lovely mare Ysadora, who I feel may have been somewhat underrated by others in terms of the quality that she produces; no longer! Ysadora’s line is especially noteworthy in terms of my Triple Crown Series as she is by Marwan Al Shaqab, himself a winner of the Triple Crown in 2002 when aged two years – more of him in a future article. Marwan Al Shaqab is, of course, renowned the world over and has produced more World Champion winning get than any other stallion. He, in turn, is sired by Gazal Al Shaqab (Anaza El Farid x Kajora) and is out of Little Liza Fame (Fame VF x Katahza). This line thus doubles up the Fame VF presence in AJ Azzam’s pedigree. Fame VF was a US National and Canadian National Champion Stallion and, interestingly, he was also the sire of the first ever European Triple Crown winner and grandsire of the first filly to earn the title; again, more of that in a future feature.

AJ Azzam
Photo by Gigi Grasso

Looking to Ysadora’s damline, we have Ysabela (ex EA Moongypsy Echo by Echo Magnifficoo), who brings in the Ali Jamaal (Ruminaja Ali x Heritage Memory) line through her sire, Parys El Jamaal. This strand also combines the powerful Polish presence that can be found throughout AJ Azzam’s pedigree, as evidenced by the many links to Bey Shah (Bey El Bay x Star of Ofir). All in all, AJ Azzam’s pedigree brings in the very finest bloodlines throughout the recent history of the Arabian horse. And they are all packaged up together in one impressive young colt that has already made his own mark on history in spite of his tender years.

For a yearling colt to win so convincingly at every single show is no small feat, and in winning the Triple Crown title, AJ Azzam became only the fourth yearling to take this award in its 21 year history. The Yearling Championships became a regular feature in 2012 and the fact that AJ Azzam was the first to win the Triple Crown since their inception shows just how difficult it really is – and how amazing this young colt is. It is also worth noting that there is a chance that we history may repeat itself in 2016, as Ysadora foaled a full sister to Azzam in October last year. It is truly a case of ‘watch this space’, as AJ Nurai is waiting in the wings.

AJ Nurai - 2015 full sister of AJ Azzam
Photo by Elisa Grassi

Meanwhile, AJ Azzam truly is a star – not just for the record books of 2015, but for the future, too. With his bloodlines and amazing potential, the journey of this beautiful colt has only just begun.

About the Author

Samantha Mattocks Go to the author's page

Freelance journalist & writer specialising in food writing and photograph, travel & Arabian horses. Owner of nourish magazine, The Arabian Magazine & The Delicate Diner. Debut novel Sandstorm out now.

I founded The Arabian Magazine at the end of 2004 in partnership and became a sole owner in August 2008.

With the magazine, I have interviewed some of the biggest names in the Arabian horse world, visited some of the finest Arabian horse studs and also seen some of the legends in breeding programmes first hand. I My travels have taken me through Canada and the USA, across Europe and the Middle East and down to Australasia and South Africa.

My goal is to make The Arabian Magazine a household name while at the same time, continuing to push for the excellence I believe in so much. Arabian horses are about passion and dedication, not just a trophy cabinet.

In 2010, The Arabian Magazine was a winner at the one-off Dubai International Arabian Horse Championships Media Awards, taking the runner up prize in the Best International Media section."
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