Young professional Nayel Nassar may ride for Egypt, but he’s based on the West Coast. After spending his childhood in Kuwait, Nassar moved to Southern California in 2009 and attended Stanford University outside of San Francisco. Today, the 25-year-old is based near San Diego and is a popular, widely-respected face on the West Coast show jumping circuit.
And now he has another feather to add to his cap; over the weekend at the Longines Los Angeles Masters CSI5*, Nassar was easily the best-performing West Coast rider, holding his own—and winning—against the international stars and Olympic gold medalists flown in for the show.
Ask him what’s working and Nassar would undoubtedly give the credit to his horse Lordan. Injury kept the stallion out of the ring in 2015, but this year he has made an amazing comeback to be in better form than ever; winning at Thunderbird in Canada and jumping around the East Coast outdoors circuit.
In 2013 Nassar and Lordan won the $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Saugerties, so when a 2014 stifle ligament cropped up, it made for a major setback. But the 12-year-old Hannoverian stallion had the good fortune to be under the meticulous care of Nassar. With a careful, patient program and an excellent team of vets and support, Nassar shepherded his best horse back to top form, and he’s now reaping the benefits.
Upon jumping clear in Round 1 of the $377,500 Longines Grand Prix of Los Angeles, Nassar pointed down to his horse in the familiar signal that all credit should go to his mount. The pair would return for the jumpoff and put in another clear round, finishing a small margin behind winner Daniel Deusser.
On Friday, Nassar and Lordan won the $95,000 Longines Speed Challenge, a tough, unique class that Nassar had originally planned to simply use as a warm up round for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Midway on course he deviated from his plan slightly, and picked up some speed. Little did he know, it would be so fast that the best riders in the world wouldn’t be able to match it.
“I knew that on Friday in the speed class, it was supposed to be a bit of a warm up class for us but I knew once I got in there, I started going faster than I planned and I never thought it would hold up in the fact that I did was just great,” Nassar said.
On Saturday, he entered Lordan in the Emirates Gold Cup to slow things down, and followed a specific plan. “I did the class [on Saturday] just to put the pieces together,” he said. “My plan was just to jump six jumps and come out of the ring. We did that and I just kind of gave him the best chance to be great. He’s such an incredible horse and an incredible partner and he just came through for me again.”
It was only at the last minute that Nassar was able to secure an invitation to the Masters of Los Angeles, and he was grateful to show organizers for giving him the opportunity.
“This is a very rare and unique opportunity for me,” he said. “We don’t get to jump shows like this very often and for me to have this chance is very special so thank you to all of EEM.”