Showcasing their six-year partnership, Egypt’s Nayel Nassar and Lordan successfully executed an aggressive track in a ten-horse jump off to win the $216,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Wellington.
The USA’s Laura Kraut finished in a close second aboard Zeremonie, while Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya and Arrayan slotted into the third position. With the win in Wellington, Nassar overtook Mexico’s Enrique Gonzalez in the Western Sub-League standings, earning the young, Eygptian rider an advantageous qualifying position for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in March.
“I thought the first round was quite big when I walked it,” Nassar said. “I was going to fit in extra strides throughout the course but I watched Lauren [Hough] go before me on a small horse [like Lordan] and they cruised right up there so I quickly changed my plan at the in gate.”
From a starting number of 40 entries, only a quarter of the field went clear in the first round over a challenging course built by Ireland’s Alan Wade. “I try to build something fair for the whole field,” Wade said at the close of the first round. He then predicted that a tight rollback in the jump off would be a deciding factor in separating the winner from the pack.
In the jump off, Nassar entered the outdoor turf field eighth in the final order, after watching Alvarez Moya deliver a solid double clear to knock USA’s Adrienne Sternlicht from the lead position. “I knew I had to make up time from [fence no.] 1 to 2,” said Nassar, who went on to boldly angle the latter, a large oxer off a bending line.
Crowd favourites and Olympians stacked the opening order, including Beezie Madden (USA), Ben Maher (GBR), Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER), and Ian Millar (CAN). But the large, technical course forced rails to drop from these top names. And in the case of Michaels-Beerbaum, a crash through the final oxer—in a round that would have, otherwise, been clear—forced her elimination when she fell off Comanche.
Following today’s event, Nassar (EGY) has taken hold of the top position in the Western Sub-League standings. In the Eastern Sub-League, Kent Farrington (USA) remains in the lead. The final events for the Western and Eastern Sub-Leagues will take place in Thermal California (11 February 2017) and in Ocala, Florida (12 March 2017), respectively.
“I actually think Lordan’s better indoors—he’s a little horse with a lot of impulsion,” said Nassar in regards to how his horse will handle the ring at this year’s World Cup™ Final. “Big jumps out of a corner aren’t an issue for him, and I heard that the Omaha ring isn’t too small, either. He really grows under the lights and will rise to the occasion.”
Result: 1, Lordan (Nayel Nassar) EGY 0/0 38.15; 2, Zeremonie (Laura Kraut) USA 0/0 39.92; 3, Arrayan (Sergio Alvarez Moya) ESP 0/0 39.95; 4, Cristalline (Adrienne Sternlicht) USA 0/0 41.64; 5, Caletto Cabana (Wilton Porter) USA 0/0 44.89; 6, With Wings (Karen Polle) JPN 0/4 40.73; 7, Seringat (Cian O’Connor) IRL 0/4 42.38; 8, Heros (Amy Millar) CAN 0/4 44.06.
Nayel Nassar (1st): “Lordan is just hitting his stride. I’ve always wanted to come back out here [to Florida]; I just needed a proper horse. I thought a couple of my sales horses were better suited for out here, so it made sense for the string that I have to be here. Also, there aren’t enough FEI events in California and I’m getting back up in the ranking list.”
“Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than this. I didn’t expect this. It’s his first show of the year. He’s such an incredible trier, and I know him like the back of my hand at this point. We jumped clear in the first round, we were just going to give it a go in the jump off. I was lucky enough to watch Sergio go right before me and I knew what we had to do and I just let it rip and he answered the questions.”
“In 2015, [Lordan] didn’t jump any classes [due to injury]. Honestly, it gives you a new sense of appreciation. I’m just happy to go in the ring with him now, whereas before, I just wanted to win with big ambitions. It just put things into perspective. He’s such an incredible partner and I’ve known him for so long, now I just feel blessed any time I get to go in the ring.”
LONGINES FEI WORLD CUP™ JUMPING 2016/2017 NORTH AMERICAN LEAGUE, EASTERN SUB-LEAGUE:
Standings after Leg 6 in Wellington, Florida:
1. Kent Farrington (USA) – 72
2. Laura Kraut (USA) – 60
3. Audrey Coulter (USA) – 45
4. McLain Ward (USA) – 44
5. Lauren Tisbo (USA) – 36
6. Keean White (CAN) – 36
7. Christian Heineking (GER) – 34
8. Ljubov Kochetova (RUS) – 34
9. Georgina Bloomberg (USA) – 34
10. Jonathan McCrea (USA) – 33
By Esther Hahn