With the permeation of top level events on the international sporting calendar, just how does a rider prioritize which to attend? This year, the focus for many will be on scoring a ticket to the highly coveted World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina.
For Egypt’s Abdel Said, his eyes are set on the quest to attend the September 11th start of events, in addition to his hopes of having a successful return season with the Rome Gladiators Global Champions League team.
Following his 1st place finish in the January 6th, CSI4*-W World Cup Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, we caught up with Said to discuss his preparations for top events, as well as his overall hopes for the year.
Noelle Floyd: What was your overall feel coming into the New Year?
Abdel Said: I think I have a pretty clear view of my year this year. I decided to come to Dubai rather than Florida mainly because I wanted to focus on the sport and getting myself going, and to also build up some of my clients that are just moving up to the four to five star level. It’s an exciting year and I’m really looking forward to seeing what it has in store for us.
As a team, how do you and your staff prepare for events?
In some yards I know they really say ‘Okay on Monday morning we’re going to have a meeting from this time to this time.’ With everything that comes up – someone gives me a horse to try, I have to be in this location, or I have to help this person – it’s a little difficult for me to do at the moment.
The staff, the grooms, we have a very good communication system. I’m here in Dubai but the business is running as if I’m back home; it’s exactly the same. When I’m back we have meetings once a month and we sit down to discuss what can improve, what can be better, and what is working very well.
Can you talk about your top horses and the shows you’re gearing them towards?
My main three are Hope van Scherpen Donder, Callisto, and Jumpy van de Hermitage, who is just turning nine this year. I have a lot of faith and belief in [Jumpy]. He jumped the World Cup in Verona and was clear in the second round of LGCT Rome.
He jumped some very good classes as an eight-year-old, and I want to bring him along slowly and build him up for the beginning of the Global season. That’s my first target for my top horses, and my goals are to keep them healthy and in really good shape towards the World Games, which will be the highlight of the year and my main target.
Who are you preparing for the WEG?
I have two horses that I’m working towards that goal with, Jumpy and Callisto (Quasimodo Z x Jokinal de Bornival). Callisto is a relatively new ride for me; I recently got him from Cian O’Connor.
Both can do it and I think they’re very good horses. I’m just going to produce them this year, and later in the season I’ll decide which one I really want to direct towards the World Games.
Abdel Said for the Rome Gladiators at Miami Beach
Are you working towards the World Cup Final in Paris?
No, to be honest with you. For various reasons, I don’t believe that my horses are really suitable for the Final, especially this year. I feel it’s too early in the year for Callisto to go and do a championship. The WEG is five months after the World Cup Final, but I think it will be too much so unfortunately I’ll skip it this year.
How do you balance the show schedules of your horses?
Kent [Farrington] has said it multiple times before and I totally agree with him — we have to make a plan that suits our horses and not just a plan that suits ourselves that they have to adapt to. For example, I really wanted to educate Jumpy last year so he did quite a bit for an eight-year-old. I gave him time off after the World Cup Final Verona and he’s just getting ready to come to last CSIO here in Abu Dhabi.
I wanted to do more shows but I told myself no – ‘This horse has a big year next year and I have to make some sacrifices and decisions. You can’t just show all year round.’ Callisto, the same story.
The Global Tour is amazing but I also know it’s very demanding. From doing it last year, [I know] it takes a lot of your horses and there are a lot of shows. I really want to go strong for our team this year, so I really decided to sacrifice the World Cup circuit in Europe so my main two have rest.
Callisto didn’t jump in Geneva either and he’s probably only going to start in Mexico and Miami for that same reason. I’m just trying to make a plan according to my horses to get the best out of them. It’s tough sometimes because we have our own ambitions, but I think that’s important.
What are your plans for Hope this season?
I felt the show here [Abu Dhabi] suits her. The level is a little bit lower — she doesn’t always have to jump the big CSI5* grands prix in Europe.
She had a little break while [Callisto and Jumpy] were going strong and didn’t jump much from August to November. I try to move them around, so when those horses are off I compete Hope, and vice versa. I think she’ll do the circuit in the UAE. When I go home and start the GCL in Mexico and Miami she’ll have most of March and the beginning of April off from showing. I’ll play around with her in May and June and make a plan for her at shows that suit her.
And plans for your up and comers?
Venise Du Reverdy is very cool and she has a lot of potential. She has a big heart, a lot of will, and is very careful and scopey. She’s really exciting and I want to take her along as a third or fourth horse on the Global Tour.
If not she’ll go with Hope to the three, four, and five star shows to gain mileage. I also have Itchy Van Het Lambroeck, who is a very exciting horse. I think I went a little quick with her early last year so I had to slow her down a bit during the second half of the year. She’s coming back very strong and jumped fantastic here. She’s ten but she’s very green – she’s more like an eight- year-old. She and Venise are my probably my most exciting two.