Setting a blistering pace in the $40,000 ATCO Structures & Logistics Cup 1.45m, Egypt's Sameh El Dahan and Sumas Zorro, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare by Ard VDL Douglas owned by Joanne Sloan Allen, led the victory gallop for his first win in the International Ring. They stopped the timers in 68.557 seconds, more than four seconds faster than second place finishers, McLain Ward (USA) and HH Carlos Z (72.604 seconds). Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Picolo were third in a time of 74.295 seconds.
So how did El Dahan win by four seconds? "I really don't know," El Dahan laughed. "My mare is really careful, and she has a big stride. She was very neat everywhere. It was the turnbacks mainly. She was very neat to turn back and from there, I can really head to the fences because she's very, very careful. I can just keep galloping at them. She just minds them, so it's easy then. You drive to the fence, and she does her job. I think that's how I won it."
Coming to the end of the course, El Dahan wasn't aware of how fast he was going. "I heard the commentator on the way, four fences before coming home. He said 'five seconds,' but I couldn't hear if I was up or down on the clock, so I just kept coming. I thought I was slower than what it was," he said.
El Dahan went early in the class and had to wait and see if his time could be beat, but as each competitor's time ticked past 68 seconds, he nervously waited and hoped. "It was a long wait for me, especially at the end of the class (with) McLain Ward, Shane Sweetnam, Conor Swail. They're all very fast riders. It was a long wait watching from out there," he admitted.
But as the last rider completed the class and El Dahan realized he won, nervousness switched to excitement for his first five-star win and gratitude for his special horse. El Dahan has ridden Sumas Zorro for more than three years since he joined Sycamore Stables in Northern Ireland. After growing up in Cairo and competing in Europe during the summers, El Dahan made the full-time move to Europe to fulfill his goals in the sport. Business partner Joanne Sloan-Allen and El Dahan found a number of horses that they have been bringing along.
Of Sumas Zorro, he described, "I know her inside and out. She's like my little baby. She trusts me as well; we have a really nice relationship. She's careful, scopey, a fighter, easy to ride. She's just a dream horse. When you sit on her, you know you're on a superstar."
Sumas Zorro was meant to jump in yesterday's grand prix, but El Dahan changed her plan. "The first day she didn't jump as good as she normally does. I think the trip took a lot out of her. We decided to give her a couple of days off, didn't jump her in the grand prix, and I jumped my other mare," he explained. "She was fresh for today, and I think it paid off really well. Next week I'll move her up again to the grand prix level."
This is El Dahan's first trip to Spruce Meadows; he and Sloan-Allen brought four horses, two of which are showing in the national classes. This International Ring victory went to the top of his list of accomplishments. "It's unbelievable. I've been wanting to come to this show for years," he said. "I've been watching it on TV, and I've always said I'd love to ride here. It's such a big ring and such a big crowd. With the competition that is here, the field of riders and horses, I've never had such a big win. It's been like a dream come true."
Final Results: $40,000 ATCO Structures & Logistics Cup 1.45m
1 SUMAS ZORRO: Irish Sport Horse / M / 10 Ard Vdl Douglas x Unknown
SAMEH EL DAHAN (EGY), Joanne Sloan Allen: 68.557
2 HH CARLOS Z: Zangersheide / G / 12 Chellano Z x Voltaire
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Double H Farm: 72.604
3 PICOLO: Warmblood / G / 11 Diamant De Semilly x Alme
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Oakland Ventures LLC: 74.295
4 CYKLON 1083: Swedish Warmblood / S / 13 Cardento x Cortus
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Spy Coast Farm, LLC: 75.975
5 ANEMONES VICKY: Dutch Warmblood / M / 12 Krunch de Breve x Animo
HECTOR FLORENTINO (DOM), Stransky's Mission Farm: 77.419
6 WELFARE: Dutch Warmblood / G / 11 Pacific x Zorti
ANDREW RAMSAY (USA), Shalanno Farms LLC: 77.448
7 BELIEVE: Warmblood / M / 8 Ulcato x Burgraaf
DANIEL BLUMAN (COL), Blue Star Investments: 78.033
8 COLGAN CRUISE: Irish Sport Horse / M / 12 Cruising x Clover Hill
RICH FELLERS (USA), Chapman & Fellers: 79.491
9 ARIANA: Dutch Warmblood / M / 13 Oklund x Damiro
CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Susan Grange: 80.794
10 LEAP OF JOY: Holstein / G / 13 Lovari x Silbersee
CHARLIE JACOBS (USA), Deeridge Farms: 81.465
11 SAMSON II: Swedish Warmblood / G / 10 Cardento x Bellini
KIRSTEN COE (USA), Lovsta Stuteri: 81.479
12 ZAPRILIA: Dutch Warmblood / S / 10 Chin Chin x Silvio I
RICHARD SPOONER (USA), Maxine and Robert Jack: 81.534
Source: Press release from Spruce Meadows Media Services
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