New partnership gels quickly to claim unexpected Winter Equestrian Festival win

  • The rider horse combination of Egypt’s Nayel Nassar and El Conde jumped fluidly to victory in today’s FEI $37,000 CSI4* 1.45 metre class at the Winter Equestrian Festival looking as if they were a seasoned partnership. In reality they have been together for just one month.

    “El Conde is actually a very new horse for us, he’s been with us for about a month,” said Nayel. “It feels like I’ve known him a lot longer. He just kind of really suits my ride and I think we had an understanding pretty early on in the partnership.”

    Currently, Nayel rides as part of the Evergate Stables team, and the plan was to use the class as preparation for Saturday’s FEI CSI4* series final classic 1m 50, which will be the last Saturday Night Lights of the WEF 2022 season.

    I have to say this was a bit of an unexpected win,” said Nayel who went early with a time of 57.84, not quite matched by Belgium’s Abdel Said, second on 58.03, and the ever-competitive Laura Kraut riding Calgary Time late in the line up of 58 competitors, to claim third with a round in 58.55.

    “We were using this as a bit of prep,” said Nayel. “He’s got such a good engine as long as you just kind of turn him on and leave him there he generally doesn’t waste much time. We didn’t expect to win this class, but it’s always nice to grab one on the way. This was his first class of the week, just to get his legs wet and get him going. He jumped a couple of bigger classes last week so it’s nice to come back down and let him have some fun. Hopefully, he’ll jump on Saturday in the 1m 50.”

    While the partnership looked in synch in the ring today, Nayel got lucky before the class, discovering a quirk of El Conde’s in the warm-up ring that he had not known before.

    “Today I got on a bit late and I was a bit rushed and he seemed to prefer that,” Nayel said of the 11-year-old bay gelding, Belgian Sporthorse. “He has a lot of character and he tends to build and build in the warm-up ring. Today he never really got a chance to get his adrenaline boiling. We’re still figuring out what routine works best for him, but so far we’re getting along just fine.”

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