WONDER HORSE BOOK ONE
By: Victoria Hardesty and Nancy Perez
Writers of Action and Adventure with Arabian Horses
At dinner that night, Sameer introduced Chris to the movers and shakers of the Arabian Horse world in Europe and the Middle East. He met breeders from France, Germany, Poland, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Great Britain, Australia, and so many members of royal families in the Middle East, his head spun. He had a pocket full of business cards from them, and he gave out nearly all the business cards he brought with him. He had no idea Prince Ali caused such a stir.
During the two hours he spent in the banquet hall, he received additional offers to purchase Prince Ali, several with spoken prices that blew him away. He also received five different offers for jobs in Europe and the Middle East. The salaries quoted were unimaginable. Everyone attending the dinner was in the stands during the semi-finals and saw Prince Ali in action. Many did pedigree research on their own and knew who his sire and dam were and their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Everyone at the dinner planned to be in the stands for the finals. Most of them were betting on Prince Ali to take the prize. Chris refused to bet on that. He’d seen it before. A horse might do well in the preliminary round and fall apart in the final one. It was like a horse race. The horse everyone bet on to win could stumble at the gate and come in last place.
Chris’s anxiety level increased with every minute closer the finals became. He was a nervous wreck that morning. When Chris dumped an entire bucket of freshwater into Ali’s stall that morning, missing Ali’s water bucket entirely, Roberto stepped in.
“Chris, you need to take a walk and get yourself together. I will get Ali ready. This is just a horse show, not an execution. Take a walk outside. Go across the street and have a pastry and a cup of coffee. Settle down and get a grip. When you get back, we’ll get you into your tuxedo and get you and Ali to the arena in time.”
Chris saw the wisdom. He’d never let himself get befuddled before a class at any horse show before. He needed the talking to as much as he needed some fresh air. He walked across the street and ordered a pastry and a cup of coffee. He sat at a little table outside and enjoyed the sights for 30 minutes. Chris relaxed. He knew Prince Ali would do what he was meant to do. He walked back across the street to the Salon de Cheval with a new air of confidence.
Roberto had Prince Ali groomed and ready. He helped Chris get into his tuxedo and checked him over, brushing off loose pieces of bedding and light-colored horse hairs. Roberto walked Ali out of his stall and handed the show lead to Chris. “Knock ‘em dead!” he told Chris.
This time, the audience was decked out in more fur than Chris thought came from the entire state of Alaska. Diamonds and other jewels reflected off womens’ necks and arms, and fingers. The shimmer and sheen from their gowns were nearly blinding. Every man dressed in formal wear. The Middle Eastern contingent wore their traditional robes and head coverings. Every horse handler in the arena wore a tuxedo, as did the judges and officials.
Prince Ali put on a show as he did in the preliminary round, with the rousing support of the audience. After the judging panel reviewed the 12 horses, time stopped for a few minutes. The judges added up the points and compared notes before turning their scores in. A few minutes of silence hovered around the arena before the loudspeaker announced the placings, starting with the 12th place horse. Chris was surprised. The call was backward. When the announcer called the number of the fourth-place horse, and it wasn’t Prince Ali’s number, Chris stopped breathing. That meant Ali placed third, second, or first.
The announcer called the number of the third-place horse for the Bronze Medal. It wasn’t Ali. That meant he was second or first. Chris’s heart stopped beating. The announcer called the number of the second-place horse for the Silver Medal. It wasn’t Ali. That meant Ali had to be First! The announcer confirmed that. Prince Ali was the First Place Gold Medal winner. Chris’s knees buckled, and he nearly dropped. Prince Ali seemed to understand what was happening and tugged on the lead, pulling Chris back to the “here and now.” Ali wanted his prize. Chris shook his head and ran beside him as Ali trotted to the center of the arena for his ribbon. The cheering nearly deafened them both.
Chris stood beside Ali while the photographer took their win pictures before giving Prince Ali a bear-hug and wither scratch. Prince Ali looked pleased in the photographs. He did not look arrogant. He looked like he’d won and knew he deserved it and was happy with it. Chris looked elated.
As soon as Chris got Ali back to his stall, he called home and asked Sharon to put the call on speakerphone so Todd and Becky could hear. “You can tell Caroline she will have to enlarge her trophy case,” he said. “Prince Ali is the best 2-Year-Old Colt in the world. He won the Gold Medal.” Chris couldn’t hear another thing from his wife. Becky and Todd were screaming too loud.