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.”
Photo: FEI/ Debra Jamroz