And the winner is...

Thursday, April 28, 2011
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov hogs the spotlight
As we all know, last Sunday was National Horse Day in Turkmenistan. An important part of the festivities was the Horse Beauty Contest. I have no doubt that you've all been waiting with bated breath to learn which horse won.

The Herald Sun reports that the lucky winner is a stallion named Khanbegler entered by  Ovlyaguli Sheripov, who won a new Toyota Land Cruiser with the inscription "a present from the respected president of Turkmenistan" for his efforts.

I would like to show you the lovely horse, but all of the articles about the competition I could find were instead illustrated with pictures of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov riding his horse while dressed in a fancy horse riding costume. That's him on his horse above. 

I wish I could tell you more, but as you'll discover if you read the Herald Sun article, aside from a brief mention of Sheripov and his mighty steed, the article primarily focuses on President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov's activities during the contest; which included him galloping around, a dove landing on his outstretched hand, and the 19 year old student Maral gushing, "It's like a fairy tale. It's so touching. I've only ever seen this in a circus."

Well, the circus part sounds about right.

Considering the focus on Berdymukhamedov instead of the winner throughout the article, and the fact this is Turkmenistan after all, the last two paragraphs of the article weren't at all surprising:
Berdymukhamedov began cutting back on some of the excesses of Niyazov, known as the Turkmenbashi, and last year removed a golden statue of his predecessor that rotated to face the sun.

But observers have noted a budding personality cult, with giant banners of his face hanging on government buildings, and critics complaining that his attempts at reform so far amounted to little more than window dressing.

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