Egypt’s Abdel Said pulled off a major upset in Italy today, the wild card rider besting a field of Show Jumping’s elite to win the Longines FEI World Cup™ qualifier in Verona. The Western European League qualifiers have been unpredictable this year, with lesser-known riders Said and Zorzi picking up victories and making the road to Omaha an incredibly exciting one.
Course designer Uliano Vezzani was surely growing nervous when 6 of the first 8 riders cleared round one faultlessly. But the veteran Italian designer had little to worry about as the rails started to fall, with a respectable 13 out of 37 combinations clear to jump-off.
Finland’s Juulia Jylus was first to jump-off, picking up 4 faults and clocking in at 45.28 – it wouldn’t be enough for a win but was a fabulous showing for a World Cup first-timer.
Abdel Said was third to jump-off with his 9-year-old mare Hope van Scherpen Donder and the two left nothing on the table. Tight in his turns and fast over the ground, Said flew over the final fence, a Longines plank, ending with a blistering fast time of 37.96. Only two other riders, France’s Simon Delestre, and Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya, would finish in under 40 seconds.
A star-studded line-up of Olympic and World Cup veterans followed Said who’d put the pressure on in a big way. Martin Fuchs, Douglas Lindelow, and Simon Delestre all had zero faults, but none would match Said’s pace. Last to go, Simon Delestre and Chesall Zimequest took the best shot at it, but would fall 1.66 seconds short of the top podium spot.
The 27-year-old winner is based in Belgium where he runs his own stable. Ranked 142nd in the world, he was invited to compete as a wild card in today’s qualifier.
“My mare has won three Grand Prix but not at this level. She’s only nine and she doesn’t have mileage like most of the horses in today’s class, but I trusted her,” said Said of his Hope van Scherpen Donder, adding, “I don’t have any big sponsors but I have some very good students and I produce many nice young horses – I produced this mare since she was seven. I hope this win shows people I am serious, and that today’s success will open a few doors for me!” he added.
1. Abdel Said (EGY) – Hope van Scherpen Donder – 0/0; 37.96
2. Simon Delestre (FRA) – Chesall Zimequest – 0/0; 39.62
3. Martin Fuchs () – Clooney – 0/0; 40.62
4. Douglas Lindelow (SWE) – Zacramento – 0/0; 41.89
5. Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) – Arrayan – 0/4; 39.57
6. Emilio Bicocchi (ITA) – Ares – 0/4; 40.56
By Ashley Fairfield-Remeza
*Quotes from FEI press release