Las Vegas, NV – In a class of thirty-four entries, Nayel Nassar and the 12-year-old gelding Lucifer V galloped into the winner’s circle in the $50,000 FEI 1.45m Las Vegas National Winning Round Jumper Classic, presented by Park Place Foundation.
Anthony D’Ambrosio’s challenging 1.45m first round course featured tight turns, direct bending lines, and two double combinations. Under FEI Rules, the best ten athletes (at least 25% and all clear rounds) qualify for the Winning Round. In this class, eleven clear rounds returned with a clean slate, in reverse order of their time in round one.
The second-round course included all the ingredients for a nail-biting finish – long gallops, big oxers, and options for tight inside turns. Nearly all of the returning riders posted clean rounds. Kristen Vanderveen, the second rider to return, posted a very impressive time of 45.91 seconds, leaving out strides in the bending lines and keeping a gallop throughout the entire course.
Vanderveen’s performance appeared to be unbeatable, at least until the final rider – Nassar and Lucifer V. After having the fastest round in the first round of competition, Nassar put the pedal to the metal in the jump-off.
“Lucifer is a very quick horse and I figured if I were clear, I’d be going close to the end of the class in round two. It wasn’t necessarily my plan, but I’m happy that it worked out that way,” Nassar noted.
Lucifer V is a new partnership for Nassar. “I’ve been riding him for about five months and would like to give a huge thank you to Evergate Stables for the ride. He’s been such a cool addition to my string. We’ve only done a few shows, but we’ve gotten better every time,” he said, praising his mount. “He’s such a trier. He has his quirks and likes to buck and play, but riding him is a great opportunity. He is definitely a talented horse.”
Fittingly, the 27-year-old rider was also chosen to receive the M. Michael Meller Style of Riding Award. Each year, this award is presented to the international equestrian who displays an exemplary style of riding as well as sportsmanlike composure from within the FEI Jumping Division. Although chosen before the class commenced, Nassar was certainly a worthy recipient.
Saturday’s competition continues with the $135,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Las Vegas, featuring thirty riders who qualified from Thursday night’s qualifying class.
Photos by Andrew Ryback Photography
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