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September 8, 2013

Nassar Nabs The Win At The Zoetis $1 Million

Nayel Nassar and Lordan won the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS-On-The-Hudson.

Saugerties, N.Y.- Sept. 8   

When the time came to pick a horse for the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS-On-The-Hudson, Egyptian rider Nayel Nassar only had one choice.

His other mount, the stallion Raging Bull Vangelis S was still in quarantine after competing in Europe over the summer, so it was up to the young Lordan to step up to the plate. While only 9, the Hanoverian gelding (Lordanos—Lamona, Landor) had jumped around enough grand prix tracks that Nassar knew he’d be up for the challenge.

Sure enough, he did, winning the class—and a check for $350,000—after a two-horse jump-off with Todd Minikus and Quality Girl.

“It was really surreal,” said Nassar. “He jumped unbelievable and I knew I just had to put the pressure on [Todd]. He’s only 9, but this is easily the biggest class he’s jumped.” The 23-year-old has been on a roll with the diminutive Lordan. In the weeks leading up to the class, they won a World Cup qualifier at Del Mar [Calif.] and came second at Thunderbird [Canada] in another.

Nassar, a student at Stanford University [Calif.], thought Olaf Petersen Jr.’s track was deceptively tough. “It definitely looked smaller than the million at Thermal, for example, but it was technical,” he said. “You had to think throughout. It was tough enough with the time allowed.”

Minikus, Loxahatchee, Fla., was happy to take second place after his mare lost a shoe in the first round in front of the second fence. She pulled two rails in the jump-off before Minikus pulled up, knowing he’d already lost the win.

“That was kind of miraculous for her to jump that course without her right front shoe,” he said. “Unfortunately she took off quite a bit of hoof with it [before we put the shoe back on]. She did seem a little tender when I was warming up for the jump-off, but that’s sport and that’s how it goes.”

Third place went to New Zealand’s Sharn Wordley on Ashland Stables’ Derly Chin De Muze.

Wordley, Wellington, Fla., jumped clear in the first round, but picked up 1 time fault. “I was early to go and I thought I’d gone fast enough, but I was huffing and puffing coming through the flags, so I knew it wasn’t that easy,” he said. “It would have been nice to be in the jump-off, but that’s the sport. I’m happy with third place!”

Wordley has had the ride on the 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (For Pleasure—Werly Chin De Muze, Nabab De Reve) for about a year. She had previously been ridden by Canadian Eric Lamaze, who competed her as a 9-year-old in the 2012 Olympics.

“She’s fantastic, a brilliant horse,” said Wordley. “She had a very busy 9-year-old year, so the last year I haven’t done too much with her really. I gave her a light summer planning for this class. We’re planning for the World Equestrian Games next year.”

While it was unfortunate that Wordley had a time fault in the first round, Petersen, Jr. had to make a quick decision about the time allowed after the first three horses jumped, and he stuck with his gut. More than 20 of the 39 starters fell victim to the clock and picked up time penalties.

“To be honest, in a normal grand prix, I would have gone up 2 seconds, but I think it would change the class completely,” he said. “We would have more clear definitely, but it put pressure on the riders, and that was part of the course.”

For complete results, check out the HITS website.

For more action from HITS-On-The-Hudson, visit the hubpage.

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