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Nayel Nassar: “The Olympic dream is the biggest aim for us riders”

Tuesday, 05 November 2019

Photo © World of Showjumping
Nayel Nassar with Lucifer V after winning the Nations Cup in Rabat and qualifying Egypt for the Olympic Games 2020. Photo © World of Showjumping


Text © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen



In October 2018, Nayel Nassar was ranked 330th in the world. Fast forward one year, and the 28-year-old now sits 35th on the rankings and has helped Egypt qualify for the Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo. World of Showjumping sat down with Nassar to hear about what he believes has made his incredible climb possible and what it means for Egypt to have a team spot for Tokyo 2020 after a 60-year absence from the Games.

“First and foremost, my sponsor Evergate Stables,” Nassar begins to explain about the key to his recent success. “For the first time in my career, I have multiple Grand Prix horses. Obviously I am very thankful to them. Lucifer has been the main reason for my climb, and we have developed a really strong partnership over the last year. He has been extremely consistent, being first, second and third in multiple five-star Grand Prix classes and he has just been a horse that can carry the load for me.”

“At the end of the day, you need horse power to do it. Along with that, Rob Hoekstra has been there to help me and it has been really beneficial having someone on the ground. For a long time, I was doing everything on my own. Those are the main factors,” Nassar says.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.
“When you have the horses to rely on, horses you know can jump on that level, it makes it a lot easier for you as a rider,” Nayel Nassar explains, here with Lucifer V. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Previously, Nassar used to do two to three five-star shows a year. Now, he competes at the highest level ten to fifteen times annually. “When you have the horses to rely on, horses you know can jump on that level, it makes it a lot easier for you as a rider,” he explains. “I try not to get caught up in the mental aspect too much, I am generally a very cool customer. For sure it helps to go to five-star shows as often as possible. The more comfortable you get on that level, the easier the mental aspect becomes. It just becomes another week, another show, another class.”

Although he has made a meteoric rise on the world ranking, chasing points has never been a main goal for Nassar – who believes the current all-time high is just a nice proof of a well-thought-out plan. “I try not to overdo it. I show two to maximum three weekends a month,” he tells about his schedule. “It is not that I am showing every single week. Obviously, the summer was tense with the Global Champions League and the team needed me quite a bit more than I expected,” he continues. “At the beginning of the year I only jumped a few shows, but every time we did, we were good. I think that makes the difference: choosing where you think you can be good and trying to target the horses for that. When you have multiple horses, it gets easier to schedule. I was never one to really chase the ranking points, but I think it is a testimony to the consistency of my horses and how well they have been jumping for me. We try to peak on the right moments and try to get good results when we go.”

Photo © World of Showjumping Nayel Nassar celebrating Egypt's Olympic ticket: “This is what we have been waiting for the whole year," he says. Photo © World of Showjumping.

A few weeks ago, Nassar travelled to Rabat, Morocco, with Lucifer V in an effort to help Egypt in their last attempt to qualify for the Olympic Games 2020. And they did just that, delivering a double clear result to not only qualify but to also win the Nations Cup – the first in the country’s showjumping history. “We spent about half the year in the US and half in Europe. We came to Europe in May after being in Wellington from January to April. With the Olympic qualifier in Rabat we ended up staying a bit longer,” Nassar explains about the build-up towards one of the biggest goals of the year. “This is what we have been waiting for the whole year. It was a big investment to travel to Rabat with one horse for one week, so there was a lot of pressure,” he says. “We were a great group of riders and horses, and it has been 60 years since Egypt has had a team at the Olympics, so it is a big deal. The Olympic dream is the biggest aim for us riders and it has been a big goal of mine.”

With this goal achieved, Nassar has no plans of slowing down. “Maybe with some championship medals around my neck,” he says about his long-term ambitions. “I have a great group of owners and supporters, without them all this would not be possible. Now I just want to keep the horses happy and keep going.”


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