Nayel Nassar and Lordan. (FEI/Debra Jamroz)
Wellington, Florida, USA, 5 February 2017 – 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, Egyptian 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.
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.”
Alan Wade (Course Designer): “I thought it was great sport this afternoon. At the start of the week we had a lot of athletes here so we had to cut from 100 down to 40 for today. The materials and the ground that I had to work with allowed me to [build for] five-star combinations here. Today, we saw thrills and spills, we saw excitement, and saw the skill of athletes and top horses. That’s why I love show jumping so much.”
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.”
Laura Kraut (2nd): “I really tried to [catch him]. Nayel was a student of mine in 2012 and he won the Under 25 Final on that horse. I knew he was going to be the one to try to beat. I even got to see him go and I couldn’t beat him.”
Sergio Alvarez Moya (3rd): “It was a fantastic show. My first time for me here. A pleasure for me to do so well. I give everybody thumbs up and hope we can ride here more often.”
Full Standings for Eastern Sub-League: http://results.hippodata.de/2017/1282/docs/longines_fei_world_cup_nal_esl_standings_after_wellington_2017.pdf
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By Esther Hahn
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