International PRE Trade Fair SICAB Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Sat, 11/07/2015 - 06:19
PRE Breeding News

Rummaging among the memories of Carlos Gardel without losing sight of the future, in his famous Volver, he sang: "feel a breath of life, in which 20 years is nothing.” And 25 years aren’t either; especially when passion and hope are exactly the same when facing a new challenge. That is what SICAB has been for ANCCE, the National Purebred Spanish Horse Breeders’ Association.

Over the past quarter of a century, it has been a continual challenge. Instead of stagnating or dying from success, the event has grown and developed progressively until today. It all fell into place at a very complicated point in time; the event was overshadowed by African Horse Sickness. Nevertheless, the 2015 Silver Jubilee will be celebrated in style. The World PRE Championship will be launched to show that the best opportunities arise when the chips are down.

The International PRE Trade Fair is a unique event. It is a world-class date on the international equestrian calendar and with a clear protagonist: the Purebred Spanish Horse. Right from the beginning, all of the activities held during SICAB have sought to underline the beauty, skills and characteristics of the PRE as a breed. The PRE may not be the fastest horse, but it is the most noble, the most versatile and the most complete. And for the past 25 years, the breed has enjoyed its own trade fair, which has also become the third most important event held in Sevilla, behind the city’s world-famous Easter Week (Semana Santa) and the April Fair (Feria de Abril). SICAB is so important that it has become an intrinsic part of Sevilla’s social-cultural wealth and a mandatory autumn date that cannot be missed.

Initially, there were a variety of objectives behind the event: to bring the PRE closer to society, to horse enthusiasts from Spain and abroad in an effort to move away from the elitist cliché to which the breed was traditionally associated. This mission was met perfectly as of the very first edition in 1991. That year, SICAB had 100,000 visitors. That statistic may seem small when comparing it to the 200,000 people who annually visit the event, but that is proof of its power to draw people.

Its inception was, however, linked to one woman: Carmen Martínez de Sola, who was the President of ANCCE the year that SICAB was launched. Her courage and stamina motivated her to take the reins of an extremely tragic situation for the sector, one that was seriously injured due to the effects of an outbreak of African Horse Sickness in Andalusia, which isolated the region, together with Extremadura, from the rest of Spain. Her feat revitalized PRE breeding, with the motto: “If I can’t go out to the market place, the market place will have to come to me.” Carmen confirms that she “will always have SICAB in my heart, and even if I have done other things throughout my life, I am happy that my successors have been able to maintain it. Just take a look at how healthy the event is right now.” Two years later, in 1993, stud farms from outside Andalusia came to SICAB for the very first time. That was the turning point, when international status was reached and it has continued. Every year, more than 1000 horses from more than 300 stud farms—both in Spain and abroad—are on hand for the event.

Carmen was followed by Ignacio Candau in the ANCCE Presidency. Until 1997, he worked tirelessly to professionalize the event, with the Association becoming the sole organizer and administrator of SICAB, thus improving the event’s economic results. Under his leadership, SICAB launched the ANCCE Cup for Dressage, Doma Vaquera, Carriage Driving, Spanish High School and Show Jumping, to promote sports.

In 1998, under the guidance of Adolfo Sánchez de Movellán, the first Spanish National Championship Final for PRE Stallions and Mares was held. The relaunching of SICAB that Movellán started, to expand SICAB’s profile to five major continents, was later continued with the next two Presidents: Javier Conde (2008-2012) and Juan Tirado (since 2013). They have not had an easy job when it comes to nurturing SICAB with innovative ideas in times of crisis. In 2015, a quarter of a century after SICAB opened its gates for the very first time, the World Purebred Spanish Horse Championship has been set in motion. Today, it is a well consolidated event and one of the most traditional housed by the Palacio de Exposiciones y Congresos (Fair Grounds) in Sevilla.

A meeting place for professionals

In addition to delighting horse enthusiasts from all over the world, SICAB is an important meeting place for breeders and professionals from the sector. It is a commercial platform, par excellence, for the Spanish Horse. The two-week period prior to and after the event accounts for 50% of the global annual turnover; this makes it an essential source of business for PRE breeders. Also, the business generated at the stands for sector-related companies must be taken into consideration, as this covers a wide range of complementary products from the horse and equitation industry. The number of commercial firms and breeders with stands surpasses the three hundred mark every year.

A showcase that is open to the world

At SICAB, the limelight is on socialites and important faces from a number of worlds—movies, fashion, politics, bullfighting and sports—both from Spain and on the international scene. Over the past quarter of a century, numerous celebrities have visited the PRE Trade Fair, including Charlton Heston, Bo Derek, Keanu Reeves, Sophia Loren, La Toya Jackson, Catherine Deneuve, Alfredo Krauss, Isabel Preysler, the Duchess of Alba and Princess Kalina of Bulgaria. Due to this fact and since the 2014 edition, SICAB hosts the Premios Pura Raza (Pure Breed Awards), which recognize the personal or professional careers, comparable to some of the recognized virtues of the PRE horse. Moreover, the unconditional support of SICAB by Spain’s Royal Household is noteworthy, especially in the person of Princess Elena de Borbón, who until 2013 was the Honorary President of SICAB. Today, this post is held by King Felipe VI. The international dimension of SICAB is equally visible in the repercussion it has in the media and its success in the virtual world. This has all been possible thanks to new technologies and communication channels. SICAB was a pioneer in using the Internet, where it has been visible since 1999; today, the event has its own Internet space through SICAB.TV. With three channels broadcasting live, all of the various equestrian tests and categories, interviews and reports are available for the world to see. Social networking, in both English and Spanish, has closed communication gaps between the many enthusiasts in the more than sixty countries where Purebred Spanish horses are bred.

A catalyst for social-economic development

In addition to the above, an important pillar of SICAB is the Show. It is open to the city and people visiting from all over the world. The show is an identifying characteristic. More than 6000 people enjoy the impressive performances every day; many of the routines later visit some of the main equestrian stages of the world. On the other hand and over the past twenty-five years of history, SICAB has welcomed four million guests; this translates into 30 million euros annually in tourist-related business. In any case, 25 years is nothing; when the curtain falls on this SICAB Silver Jubilee, the party will continue because ANCCE will keep the engine running as they begin preparing edition number 26.

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