It was a great honour for me to have the opportunity to judge the first Jacobin Show to be held in Qatar on March 4th 2010. I arrived in Doha late on March 3rd and was met at the airport by Khalid Rabie Sawali. I cannot even begin to thank Khalid enough for all he did for me during my stay. The flight was long but uneventful and it was a pleasure to walk off the plane into such a warm comfortable climate. I was booked into a beautiful hotel and I must say I have never had such nice accommodations. This was truly a treat for me and was just one of the many highlights of my stay.
The show began the next afternoon and I was pleased when I entered a bright clean show hall with plenty of space and a nice judging area set up. One of the first people I met was Zahed Gulzar from Bahrain who was kind enough to agree to be my translator for the judging and television interview. This made my job much easier.
The show was not overly large with just over 100 Jacobins as well as several other breeds. This gave me a great opportunity to take my time and do a very thorough job of evaluating the birds with no time restrictions. I decided to make it into a teaching seminar as well as a judging process since I understood this was the first time many of the breeders had been to, or participated in a show and many were very eager to learn more about the breed and what actually makes a good Jacobin. The show was at the same time being filmed for a documentary which added to its importance of helping the public appreciate and respect the hobby.
The first class was the Yellows. Quality and condition varied greatly from top to bottom but I found several birds of very good quality. Some very useful Yellow young hens were shown the best of which had very nice feather quality, good station and feather length but lacked a bit in rose structure and fit of feather. It ended up the old Yellow cock was the Best Yellow. He was very good. This bird was tall with great station and hard, smooth, tight fitting feather. His hood setting and chain fit was among the best I have seen and I used this bird as an example to those watching of what the standard calls for in these features by taking the bird in front of the judging area right up close to everyone to show them what I was talking about. After each class, through translation, I encouraged anyone with questions to ask so I could better explain what I was seeing in the birds both good and bad.
Reds had some very nice birds at the top of the classes. However I did see many Reds that were too coarse and thick in the body, and short in the neck. I tried to emphasize the importance of a long neck to allow for more reach and a better whip in. Feather quality was also a concern in some of the Reds and whites. Many birds had a dull finish and soft feather and lacked the strong webbing we look for. However the Red young cock and the Red young hen where both outstanding and showed all the features we are looking for in a modern show type Jacobin. The red young hen was tall, showy and balanced with excellent feather quality. If anything she could have used a bit more feather length over the top and across the eye line but otherwise she was a real jewel. The young Red cock however was the Red to beat. He was an exceptional Jacobin. His quality of feather, outline and station was wonderful. He showed great extension across the eye and a beautiful narrow neck line. Although not overly big he was very balanced and had all the refinement we could ask for in the body and wings to show off his eye line and whip in.
Whites were a nice class but not as strong as I had expected. The whites varied quite a bit with some birds lacking feather length and top and others feather quality and condition. The old white cock and the young white cock however were very good. The young cock was the bird I was drawn to. He had all the features I like to see. His outline, station and feather structure was impressive however he was still a baby and simply lacked the maturity and power of the old cock. However it was not an easy choice for me because I could see the great potential in the young bird. The old cock had more feather at this point and carried himself well but lacked the elegance and class the young cock had. The old cock was also completely finished and the young cock was full of pins which made him not as smooth as the old bird at this time. I had to go with the old cock for these reasons.
Splashes had one of the best birds of the show. He was an old cock who could have been shown as a White with only a few coloured feathers. He was very nice with a beautiful outline and good station. He had a great hood setting and showed constantly and easily walked away with Best Splash.
Blacks had two young cocks that were very nice however one of them was a standout. This young cock easily won the Black Class. He put it all together better than any bird I had seen in the show until now. He was a great example of body & wing refinement, feather quality, length and structure and he showed constantly. His hood setting, chain fit and rose structure was excellent. This bird was very impressive.
The Opal class was a great class for me to see. The colour on some of the birds was stunning. One old cock was a particularly good Jacobin. He had most of the features we could ask for in a good Jacobin of any colour but could have used more roll to his feather. However he was very good and deserved to win the Opal class. The second place cock had the most beautiful colour but lacked thickness in the mane and feather wealth overall.
The A.O.C. class was the weakest class and did not have any birds that would be able to compete for champion. However there was one Bar bird that was quite good. When all the birds were brought up for Champion it did not take long to narrow it down to the Black, the Red, The Yellow and the Splash. All of these birds were excellent Jacobins. I took lots of time and once again studied and compared all these birds. Every one of these birds was in excellent condition so that was not an issue. It came down to which bird was actually the best Jacobin. The Splash was in perfect condition and was a credit to the person who prepared this bird. However he was shorter necked and thicker bodied and not as tall as the other three and what concerned me as much was his softer feather quality which did not allow the bird to pull together especially in the hood and top area. His feather fluttered with the slightest air movement. Even though he was a very nice bird he stood 4th for those reasons. The Yellow cock stood towering the entire time. His weakness was a thinner mane. He was also a bit thicker bird in the shoulders than the Black and the Red but given his age that was understandable. Based on that I put him in 3rd place overall. The Red cock was a real beauty and it really came down to these last two young cocks. Both were very modern style with an elegant appearance, great whip ins, good hood settings and eye lines and wonderful standing birds. However the Red cock had two problems that held him back. First was an area of feathers in the upper mane that wanted to pull slightly to the wrong side and the second was the fact that if left alone he would relax his feathers and not pull together as tightly as the Black. The Black (Bred by Ali Fakhroo) never stopped showing. He had all the correct structure in the finer details combined with a modern, refined show type that earned him the award of Grand Champion and the Red (bred by Hassan al Ansari) was Reserve. Afterwards the hens were brought up and I selected the Young Red hen (Also bred by Hassan al Ansari) as the Best Hen in the show. It is nice to note the Champion, Reserve and B.O.S. birds were all young birds bred in Qatar. Once again this speaks volumes for the future of the breed in the region and the skill of the breeders. Well done to all of you.
Following the show a wonderful meal was prepared in a dining room next to the show hall. This was a great time to relax and sit with all those attending the show. I had the chance to visit with not only breeders from Qatar but also from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Both the fellowship and the food was very good. It was very interesting to be able to share thoughts on the hobby and how things are both different and the same in our countries. I always learn something from these talks.
In the days following the show I had the opportunity to visit several lofts and see some really progressive breeding programs and wonderful clean, well organized lofts. It was an honour to visit the lofts of Ali Fakhroo, Hassan al Ansari and Ali Saad the day after the show. Ali Fakhroo took time out of his busy life to take care of me and escorted me to all these lofts and his beautiful home and I must say the food was amazing. All of the birds I saw were being individually bred and were in great condition. It was interesting that during the show, and the day following, a TV camera crew followed us to the lofts around the city and continued to interview the breeders and myself about the breed and the hobby. This show then went on air the day I left.
It was also a treat to see the city of Doha. The city was clean and I was amazed at the brilliant architecture of the new buildings. Many were colossal in size and mind boggling in design. On my last day Khalid Rabie Sawali devoted his day to me and we had a great time. I really do not feel I deserved such treatment but at the same time it felt very good. Khalid took me for a very nice meal on the waterfront before we drove out into the country to visit the loft of Ahmed Misned al Misned. Once again I experienced great hospitality in relaxed surroundings. It was good to see the large well aired lofts filled with quality birds. It was also nice to tour the rest of the farm and see the well bred camels and horses which made me feel at home.
I cannot thank Ali Fakhroo and Khalid Rabie Sawali enough for all they did to make my stay a pleasant one. There is nothing more they could have done. Once again it was an experience of a lifetime and I felt at home among so many good people. I have nothing but good memories and great stories from Qatar and the Middle East. I feel very proud to call so many from the region my close friends. I look forward to the day I return.