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Nassar on top

SoCal-based Egyptian rider stars again in HITS Coachella

- April 1st, 2018 - Cover Story, Show & Event News

1804A CoverTHERMAL — The dust has settled from an ambitious 2018 HITS Desert Circuit, and the pinnacle prizes once again were pinned on Nayel Nassar, the 27-year-old Southern California-based rider who represents Egypt. Riding the 14-year-old Hannoverian Lordan, Nassar won HITS Coachella’s prestigious pair — the Longines $100,000 FEI on Feb. 11, and the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix March 18 — in a prodigious sweep for the record books.

“I’m really trying to preserve him as much as I can,” Nassar told reporters after the FEI win. “He’s had a couple of injuries and we have a long year ahead. I’m just stoked to have him and to have him come out so strong. He’s a trier and we know each other well, which helps with the little intricacies on course.”

In the AIG $1 Million, Nassar earned $350,000 for the win. Rowan Willis settled for runner-up with the 12-year-old Blue Movie, and in third was Paul O’Shea with Skara Glen’s Presence.
The top five was rounded out by Christian Heineking on NKH Caruso in fourth and Erynn Ballard with Fantast in fifth.

Since purchasing Lordan eight years ago, Nassar and Lordan have vied in two FEI World Cup Finals (2014 and 2017) and the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in France (for Egypt). They also won a monster check in 2013, when they captured the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix in New York.

“He programs himself,” Nassar said of his longtime partner. “He knows when the big day is. He senses the atmosphere.”

Course designer Mark McGowan was challenged with the prospect of creating a course that catered to the fresh 1.50-meter horses as well as seasoned 1.60-meter horses in the 53-entry field. Of the class, six horse-and-rider pairs returned for McGowan’s jump-off course. Going last, Lordan and Nassar entered the stage and brilliantly attacked the course while an overflow crowd quietly watched before unleashing an explosive roar as Nassar and Lordan jumped the final oxer, looked back only to fist pump and beam around the entire stadium.

“It’s really, really special to have a partnership like that,” said Nassar, “and I hope we can have a few more years out of him.”

MORE ONLINE: Http://bit.ly/804A_HITS

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