Egypt’s Abdel Said headed one of the fastest jump-offs you are likely to see in top level show jumping at the Olympia Horse Show on Friday.
The 20-year-old, who is riding at Olympia on an FEI wildcard, created just as much, if not more, cheering and support as any British rider as he went all out with Avenir to win the Christmas Cracker.
Michael Whitaker had taken the lead midway through the 13-horse jump-off with GIG Portofino 63, but was soon overtaken by his niece Ellen Whitaker (Equimax Ocolado). The crowd whooped and screamed as the uber-popular Ellen clawed back fractions of a second.
Abdel followed and as soon as spectators realised he was going to try and beat his rival, they gave him an astonishing amount of vocal support.
After a little check before the last fence, he pushed Star Horses’ nine-year-old gelding over the last just 0.3sec quicker.
“I just can’t believe how amazing the crowd are here,” said Abdel. “They’ll cheer just as much here if you have three fences down, as spectators would after a clear is jumped anywhere else in the world.”
Listen to interview with Abdel Said
Edwina Alexander, riding her 2008 World Cup qualifier winner Cevo Itot Du Chateau, tried to better Abdel’s time as the last to go, but she fell short by 0.08sec to finish eventual second.
Swiss European team gold medallist Pius Schwizer had opened the show by claiming victory in the accumulator with Unique X CH. The world number four is determined to secure his qualification for the World Cup final on Sunday.
“Because it’s at home in Geneva, I’m very motivated,” he said. “You always feel more determined when you are on home ground.”
Ellen Whitaker claimed her third win of the show with Cortaflex Kanselier in the Accenture stakes. The pair have won every class they have competed in at the show, and Ellen says she will give the 17-year-old a day off over the weekend.
She retained her puissance title with Ladina B later in the evening, albeit this year sharing with four others after none made it over the 7ft 1in wall. But one of her co winners, Ireland’s Cian O’Connor, pointed out: “It doesn’t matter if it’s one winner or five, a win is still a win.”
Stay in touch with all the action from Olympia on Horseandhound.co.uk and don’t miss H&H’s full report on the show, on sale Thursday 24 December