The FEI World Cup qualifying scene was hot, hot, hot on this balmy afternoon in Del Mar. With the thermometer touching eighty degrees and humidity upwards of 70%, competitors dealt with heat as well as a tough track today. Nonetheless, young Nayel Nassar rode Lordan with speed and accuracy for the win in the $50,000 Grand Prix of Showpark, presented by EquiFit, inc.
In the first round, twenty-nine horse and rider combinations representing nine countries galloped on to the Showpark grand prix field. The international flair continued in the seven horse jump-off, when riders from Canada, France, Egypt, Brazil and the United States contested for the top prize and valuable FEI World Cup points.
Canadian Michel Vaillancourt's course was set to specifications for a class of this caliber. "Right from the start fences 2, 3 and 4 are demanding. Number three, our EquiFit sponsor fence, is built with black rails and that is always troublesome. The first double is a very tall vertical with a long distance to a very scopey oxer coming out, that's a true World Cup test. And then at the end of the course comes the triple combination, which always takes its toll. The last fence is a very wide oxer, the widest we have on course with a 1.75M spread. Basically every fence is 1.50M, we have a lot of verticals at 1.55M and a couple at 1.60M."
Knowing the importance of setting a challenging track that potential World Cup contenders should be able to conquer, Vaillancourt commented before the class began. "If I get a jump-off I'll be very happy but I wouldn't be surprised if I didn't. It is World Cup standard and the standard has to be maintained throughout all the World Cup qualifiers."
However the West Coast contingent rose to the occasion and of the twenty-nine who competed, almost one quarter of the class was fault-free and just over half had four faults or less.
Third to go in the order, nineteen-year-old Canadian Bretton Chad on Stone Ridge Farm's Santa Catarina LS La Silla, jumped around without dropping a rail. Directly after, Californian Mandy Porter was fault-free on Plum Creek Hollow's Con Capilot. A few rounds later, Brazilian rider Josephina Nor-Lantzman rode Chello Z clean. It wasn't until the seventeenth pair, World Champion French rider Eric Navet riding Signe Ostby's Quanto Fino 2, that a male competitor joined the jump-off group. Within the next ten rides, Brazilian Francois Esteves and Cord 11 (Antonio Chedraui, owner), Egyptian Nayel Nassar aboard Lordan and Californian Ashlee Bond on Agro Star (Klatte KG, H.u.H., owner) rounded out the top seven to return.
Chad and Santa Catarina LS La Silla left the door open for the six to follow, with two rails in their jump-off round, ultimately sixth. Porter and Con Capilot walked right through that open door, setting the pace for the rest, double clean in 40.79. Nor-Lantzman and Chello Z had a rail halfway through, for a score of four faults, finishing fifth overall. Showing the crowd what it takes to be a World Champion, Navet and Quanto Fino 2 shaved over two seconds off Porter's time, taking the lead in 38.47. Esteves and Cord 11 gave it a good effort, coming close but not close enough in a time of 39.84. Then Nassar pulled his Nascar moves. Right from the start he picked up a forward pace on Lordan, and executed a slick, smooth ride, stopping the clock in 37.03 for the win. Bond and Agro Star had a mishap midway through the course, settling for seventh.
After taking a victory ride in a Ferarri as well as aboard his winning mount, Nassar slowed down for a minute to speak about his horse. Soon to finish his studies at Stanford, the over six foot tall young talent already has a group of grand prix victories to his credit. A nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Lordan seems well suited to the pressures of this level of show jumping.
"I bought him as a six-year-old, so I've had him for about three years now. He's a really small horse so he's quick to turn and quick to move up," Nassar said of Lordan. "Next week I head to Saugerties for the million dollar class. Then he gets a little break and we head back here for the fall circuit."
Source: Press release from Blenheim EquiSports.
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