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How a strange premonition led to a $1million victory

“I woke up this morning with a strange feeling that you need to compete at Spruce Meadows and that you are going to win…” so said Irish horsewoman Joanne Sloan Allen one summer morning over a cup of coffee.

She was talking to Egyptian rider Sameh El Dahan, who rides her brilliant little chestnut mare Suma’s Zorro, and this premonition was to set them on a path to winning the world’s richest grand prix, the CP International at Spruce Meadows in Canada.

Joanne and Sameh had originally decided to focus on the World Equestrian Games (WEG) at Tryon, USA, this year so the $3million competition at the start of September hadn’t been in their calendar — but the wheels were soon put in motion.

“My first reaction was that it would be very difficult logistically to make this happen and that it wouldn’t be possible,” said Sameh. “However, Joanne was adamant that Zorro and I were going to win in Spruce and that she would support me all the way, so of course I couldn’t say no!

“I am always positive and hope that I will get a good result when I am competing, but it did feel a little far fetched at the time that we would win one of the biggest Rolex Majors. But I thought to myself, we will go and we will give it our best shot.

“My horse is incredible, my support team is amazing, so I knew that if everything went perfectly on the day I would be in with a chance, and luckily for us everything went according to plan.”

The premonition ended up netting them a cool $1million as Sameh and Zorro soared to victory in the feature class, one of the toughest showjumping competitions in the world. Victory means the Egyptian rider is now the live contender in the Rolex Grand Slam, with the next leg taking place in Geneva in December.

“Winning was the most fantastic feeling, I have been working towards this my whole life, since I was a little kid,” said Sameh, who studied medicine at university before deciding to pursue a career in equestrian sport.

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“This grand prix [the CP International presented by Rolex] is one of the biggest on the circuit and it’s one that all riders want to win. To have my name on the board alongside the world’s most legendary riders like Eric Lamaze, Nick Skelton and the Whitakers is just a dream come true.

“I always feel that everything happens for a reason, and for whatever reason Joanne had this strange feeling, she was quite right!”

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