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Surprise win for Said in Longines FEI World Cup of Verona

Sunday, 13 November 2016
CSI5*-W Verona 2016

Abdel Said took a surprise win in the Longines FEI World Cup of Verona. Photo (c) Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping. Abdel Said took a surprise win in the Longines FEI World Cup of Verona. Photo (c) Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping.

The fourth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup-series in the Western European League hosted in Verona was a thriller, with a surprise winner.

The competition presented by Fixdesign was ridden over fences set at 1.60m height, and the course designed by Italy's own Uliano Vezzani had 13 obstacles and 16 efforts in it with the time allowed being 78 seconds.

Of the 37 riders, five out of the first ten rode early clear rounds. This sparked some discussion among the riders, as third placed Martin Fuchs told the press after the class: “After so many clear rounds so early on in the class, many of us riders thought the time allowed should have been changed – but Uliano showed us once again that he is much smarter than us riders and he stuck to his plan. In the end, with 13 riders in the jump-off, it turned out he really had a great plan. I think he is one of the best course designers in the world!”

The beginning of the course caused problems among a few of the riders, as did the triple combination set as fence number ten – the World Cup winners from Oslo, Alberto Zorzi and Fair Light van't Heike (Vigo de Arsouilles x Darco), had the first fence down, while Steve Guerdat (SUI) on Big Red (Ludwig von Bayern x Lamoureux I) saw a pole fall in the triple combination.

In the end there were thirteen riders ready for the jump-off. Finland’s Juulia Jyläs rode a great clear round on her Finishing Touch Wareslage (Quival x Toulon), and right after her Gianni Govoni (ITA) on Antonio (Oklund x Aes Dick Z) made the Italian crowd go wild with another clear. Philippe Rozier (FRA) on Rahotep de Toscane (Quidam de Revel x Laudanum), Jane Richard Philips (SUI) on Pablo de Virton (Andiamo x Kashmir van’t Schuttershof) and Douglas Lindelöw (SWE) on Zacramento (Cardento x Cortus) were also among those that produced clear rounds joining in with top names such as Penelope Leprevost (FRA), Kevin Staut (FRA) and Simon Delestre (FRA).

However, it turned out to be all about Abdel Said (EGY) and his feisty little 9-year-old mare Hope van Scherpen Donder (Quadrillo x Balou du Rouet). Said showed unbelievable fighting spirit, setting the the time to beat at an incredible 37,96 seconds after a lightening fast jump-off.

Those that followed all tried, but without succeeding. Martin Fuchs (SUI) on his Olympic mount Clooney (Cornet Obolensky x Ferragamo) rode a safe looking clear, with a time of 40,62 seconds slotting into a temporarily runner-up position far behind on the clock.  

The riders who tried to catch the time set by the Egyptian rider, saw poles falling in the attempt and it was Simon Delestre on Chesall Zimequest (Casall x Concerto II) that came the closest as last to go in the jump-off –  but the pair had to settle for second place with their time of 39,62 seconds.

“I am delighted with my horse and I am delighted with the result. I would like to thank the FEI and John Roche for giving me the wild card and the opportunity to ride here today. I would also like to thank Uliano, I think he is my favourite course designer because this year he built two Grand Prix competitions that I rode and I won both," said Abdel Said at the press conference.

The sympathetic young Egyptian rider moved to Europe already at the age of 11, and today he runs a successful business in Belgium; “I started from nothing and now we have a beautiful yard close to Antwerp. We are still growing, slowly but surely,“ a very happy winner said.

Second placed Delestre was not disappointed to be beaten: “At first when I saw so many clears in the beginning of the class I got a little bit worried, but as usual with Uliano we ended up having a fantastic jump-off. I have no regrets, I did what I could and got some valuable points to get in to the final.”


Text and picture © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen

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