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After a 60-year wait, Egyptian riders are off to the Olympics

History was made in Morocco over the weekend when Egypt qualified a showjumping team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

This will be the country’s first equestrian team appearance at the Games since Rome in 1960, where their showjumpers finished fourth.

Egypt’s quartet of Mohamed Taher Zeyada (Vizalaty), Nayel Nassar (Lucifer V), Abdel Said (Venise Du Reverdy) and Sameh El Dahan (Suma’s Zorro) won the Nations Cup competition on Sunday (13 October) with a team score of four, just one point ahead of Switzerland after two rounds of jumping.

“It’s incredible!” said Egypt’s Abdel Said who runs his own yard in Antwerp, Belgium, and came home with just a time-fault in each round.

“When we came here we knew we had a good chance because our riders are strong and compete all over the world,” he added. “But not only to qualify for Tokyo but to also win this Nations Cup is a huge boost for us.

“This has been a target for the last two years,” he explained. “We really wanted to qualify and we took a gamble with the team we sent to Barcelona [for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup final last weekend) but it didn’t work out great. But we brought our A-team here and this has happened — it’s unbelievable.

“Tokyo is where we all want to get to — I’ve always dreamed of competing at the Olympic Games.”

Egypt has been represented at the last three Olympic Games by showjumper Karim El Zoghby, who competed as an individual.

Qatar’s 28 faults in eighth place was enough to claim the second ticket to next year’s Olympics in this 14-team Nations Cup competition. With six countries in the region vying for qualification, it would be Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAE who missed out.

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Qatar qualified for the Rio Olympics in 2016 where Sheikh Ali Al Thani finished sixth indivudally.

“Congratulations to all who helped us make it to the Olympics for a second time. We are very excited about it,” said the team’s Bassem Mohammed, who jumped for four and one penalty with his top horse Gunder.

Great Britain’s squad of Jessica Mendoza (Diamants Aurora), Jackson Reed-Stephenson (Exception), Emily Ward (Millioninmind) and Helen Tredwell (Galtur) failed to make it through to round two after the pathfinder, Jessica Mendoza, was eliminated and a team score of 14 was accumulated for 10th position.

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

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