Las Vegas, NV – It was an international evening as thirty competitors representing six countries were vying for valuable North American League points in the final qualifier before the holiday season, the $135,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Las Vegas, presented by Walter Oil & Gas Corporation. Six riders provided clear rounds and returned for a remarkable jump-off that marked the second victory of the day for Nayel Nassar (EGY). Aboard his longtime partner, Lordan, Nassar stopped the clock in an impressive 34.57 to edge out Wilhelm Genn (GER) and Buggati’s time of 35.73. Rounding out the top three was Harley Brown (AUS) riding Mylord Cornet.
The show’s magical Saturday opened at 5:00p.m., where ticketholders were greeted by the Red Bucket Equine Rescue Welcome Center, entertainment and vendors. The fun included a juggler, magician, caricature artist, face painters and a photo booth, presented by WC Equestrian. Opening Ceremonies commenced at 7:30p.m. with a Las Vegas tradition, the Parade of Nations. As each rider was introduced to a cheering audience, the buzz was building for the show jumping excitement to come. Following the exit of the FEI riders, the Young Rider Chef D’Equipe, DiAnn Langer, honored Zone 10 equestrians for their accomplishments in championship events this year. Then the President of Blenheim EquiSports, Robert Ridland, honored Langer Equestrian Group’s founder Larry Langer for his devotion to equestrian sport. Wrapping up an amazing opening ceremony, the Honor Guard entered while consumate performer Ki-Juan Minors sang the National Anthem.
The first rider to challenge the Anthony D’Ambrosio track was Jennifer Gates aboard Monaco, who rode without fault, inviting a jump-off for those who could match her effort. Riding sixth in the order, Harley Brown completed a clear round on Mylord Cornet. Not until after the nineteenth entry completed the course did more riders join the jump-off, when Kristen Vanderveen, Genn, Richard Spooner, and Nassar rode without fault.
D’Ambrosio’s jump-off course allowed riders to execute long gallops, a few bending lines, and one combination. Three of the six returning, Gates, Vanderveen and Spooner, executed speedy efforts with one fence down on course for four fault scores.
Second to attempt the shortened track, Brown was the first double clear effort in a conservative 40.34. Also clean, Genn and Bugatti blazed and stopped the clock four and a half seconds faster than Brown to take over the lead. Last to go was Nassar. During the Winning Round Classic earlier in the day, as the final rider to jump-off aboard Lucifer V, Nassar brilliantly took over the top spot for the win. Repeating the feat, he once again sizzled through turns and galloped through the timers in 34.57 seconds to claim victory.
Nassar claimed that luck was on his side here in Vegas. “Luck of the draw helped me out in the jump-off. I was in the pole position coming in. I knew Wilhelm had set a hard time to beat on a horse with a bigger stride than mine. I just had to be tidy in the turns,” he explained. “I always relish the pressure and I think Lordan could feel that I was getting tingly walking in there. He tried his heart out.”
This is not the first of Nassar’s successes in the 2018/2019 Longines FEI North American League season; he won the fourth qualifier just last week in Thermal, CA. “Lordan’s jumping really great right now. This is his third week in a row and he’s on fire. He’ll get to enjoy a well-deserved holiday in the field after this. I’m very happy that he’s feeling so good at the end of the season as a 14-year-old.”
As the press conference reached an end, a group of fans waited in the foyer for the chance to get autographs from the top four riders of the night, as well as other international competitors. Be sure to stay in the loop during the off season by following Blenheim EquiSports on Instagram and Facebook.
Photos by Andrew Ryback Photography
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