x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Fairytale twist in beauty competition for salukis

It's one of the world's oldest stories. Mystery girl from humble background triumphs against the odds, only to be revealed as a long-lost princess.

Abla, left, 4½, with her 18-month-old daughter Dasma at yesterday's saluki beauty contest.
Abla, left, 4½, with her 18-month-old daughter Dasma at yesterday's saluki beauty contest.

ABU DHABI // It's one of the world's oldest stories. Mystery girl from humble background triumphs against the odds, only to be revealed as a long-lost princess. But there was a new twist on the fairy tale at the beauty competition at the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition yesterday. After Dasma, a young saluki of previously unknown antecedents, had been named best in her class (female, smooth) it was announced that her mother had won best in show two years ago.

When Jaci Wickham, an Abu Dhabi racehorse trainer, lost her first saluki to snakebite a day after taking part unsuccessfully in last year's competition, she was given a puppy by Hamad al Ghanem, director of the Arabian Saluki Centre, which organised the competition. What she did not know was the provenance of the shy but beautiful hound that ended up captivating the competition judge, Cathy Smith, yesterday.

But as Dasma was receiving her ribbon, the competition commentator, Sumaya Viethen, said she had something to say. "Dasma is a very pretty lady but today we will see her mother, Abla, who won best in show two years ago," she said. A handler brought out Abla, aged 4½, and with them together, the mother-daughter connection was clear. Apart from their looks, both showed similar character traits - shy and hesitant with their tails tucked modestly between their legs.

No award was made for overall best in show, with the winners in the four categories, based on sex in the smooth and feathered and smooth varieties, being named as Dasma, Barq, Noasha and Gargash. An extra award was given to the oldest saluki in the show, a 17-year-old named Injaz. jhenzell@thenational.ae