Wellington, Fla. – March 13, 2021 – It was a banner night for Egypt at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) as Abdel Said galloped to the second CSI5* grand prix victory of his career during Saturday night’s $401,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix, also marking the first 5* win at WEF for any rider from the country. Aboard Bandit Savoie, Said topped a nine-horse jump-off by edging out Daniel Deusser (GER) and Killer Queen VDM by just 1/100th of a second to lead the lap of honor at the end of the night.
Course designer Alan Wade of Ireland set the track for the night’s competition, welcoming athletes to a long 14-fence course with an oxer-oxer-vertical triple combination. They were also tested with a wide open water followed by a technical line before heading back to the far end of the ring over a vertical-oxer double combination and the final oxer. The track yielded nine clear rounds to return for the jump-off. The tiebreaker began over a new oxer and also included the double combination before a long gallop towards the gate before finishing over three more fences.
Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) was the pathfinder during the jump-off with Carlito’s Way 6, setting the fault-free time to beat at 41.45 seconds, but he was quickly ousted from the top of the leaderboard by Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) and Cristalline who cleared the course in 39.59 seconds. Her lead also did not hold for long though as Cian O’Connor (IRE) and Kilkenny left a stride out in the last line to finish in 39.09 seconds for an eventual third place finish.
Said was next in the ring with Bandit Savoie, a 10-year-old gelding that he purchased last fall. Using his mount’s quick footspeed to his advantage, Said was able to stay inside his predecessors’ tracks and even add a stride down the last line to break the beam a full second ahead in a time of 38.70 seconds. Deusser was a threat to Said’s lead though, with several wins throughout the season already under his belt. He added down the last line as well though and with a time of 38.71 seconds Deusser would have to settle for second place. Shane Sweetnam (IRE) was the last athlete to tackle the track without fault, but Karlin Van’t Vennehof’s time of 39.83 seconds would only be good enough for fifth place.
Although their partnership is still new, Said stepped Bandit Savoie up to the 5* level quickly after selling his two main grand prix horses early in the season. He was focused on a clear jump-off but thrilled to come away with such a major victory as he sets his sights on representing Egypt at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Competition for WEF 9 will wrap up Sunday with the $73,000 FEI CSI 5* CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic. Athletes will return for WEF 10 where the jumper highlight events will be held Sunday afternoon, featuring the $137,000 FEI Horseware Ireland Grand Prix and the $50,000 FEI Hermes U25 Series Final.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Abdel Said – $401,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI5* winner
On Bandit Savoie:
“He is a feisty little horse but he’s definitely a trier. I love the fire he has in him and that was causing me rails sometimes at the past few shows because I didn’t really know him. He was thrown in the fire because I sold my main two grand prix horses early in the circuit, so we really had to step up. I must say, today going into the jump-off I was so happy with how he went during the first round that I just wanted to do my own round and see where I end up. I didn’t go in thinking I really had to win today, but I like to go in a jump-off and everything clicked today. I was really happy.”
On being the first Egyptian rider to win a CSI5* grand prix at WEF:
“I am really, really proud. Especially now with the other horses getting sold, I really felt the pressure with the Olympics. Will it happen, will it now, I just really felt the pressure the last three shows. I am just really happy that I have a horse that can do this. Obviously this is very high level, the Olympics are still very far away, but we’ll see where we end up.”
Daniel Deusser – $401,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI5* second place
On Killer Queen VDM:
“I think the last couple of weeks she explained everything by herself. She’s a mare with unbelieve scope and she knows what to do in the ring. She wants to leave the poles up. Today again, two fantastic rounds from her. I had a little bit not the best distance to the second to last fence, I was really planning to do the eight strides down the last but she was so deep that she helped me there a little bit and that’s where I lost it.”
Cian O’Connor – $401,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI5* third place
“He’s a super horse. I only got him last September when he was 8, so he just turned 9 now and this was really a night of firsts. First time under the lights, first 5*, first time jumping water in a big competition, so I didn’t really know what to expect. When I walked the course I thought it was a very difficult test. The verticals were quite tall. The course was nice though. This time of year we’re all just getting up and running, but the combinations were fair and Alan did a super job with the course. I am thrilled with the horse, he was only a half a second off. We’re really pleased, a 9-year-old just starting out at this level, so we couldn’t be happier.”
On the Irish team:
“This is the third 5* grand prix here. The lads won two of them and I was third here today, so it looks good for the team and the Olympic Games should they go ahead. My main horse PSG Final is the one I would probably plan to take to Tokyo, but this guy is really coming along well behind him and looks like an exciting horse for the future.”
On competing at WEF amid COVID and EHV competition cancelations:
“I think we are blessed. Daniel and I spoke about it during the prize giving and to be able to compete here is extraordinary this time of year. We don’t have crowds and the horse here at WEF does great with the COVID protocols, but to be able to jump at such a high level and be up and running so early on, we feel privileged. It’s a huge advantage because other people aren’t jumping. Things are canceled, it’s awful with the virus in Europe and so on, so we are thinking of everyone affected by that, but we are fortunate to have planned to come here and we’re all able to jump in a very safe environment.”
$401,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI5*:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Country / R1 Time | R1 Faults / R2 Time | R2 Faults
1. Bandit Savoie / Abdel Said / Abdel Said As Sport Horses / EGY / 0 | 82.00 / 0 | 38.70
2. Killer Queen VDM / Daniel Deusser / Stephex Stables / GER / 0 | 80.71 / 0 | 38.71
3. Kilkenny / Cian O’Connor / Ronnoco Jump LTD / IRL / 0 | 81.34 / 0 | 39.09
4. Cristalline / Adrienne Sternlicht / Starlight Farms 1 LLC / USA / 0 | 80.94 / 0 | 39.59
5. Karlin Van’t Vennehof / Shane Sweetnam / Seabrook LLC & Shane Sweetnam / IRL / 0 | 79.72 / 0 | 39.83
6. Carlito’s Way 6 / Rodrigo Pessoa / Artemis Farms LLC / BRA / 0 | 81.03 / 0 | 41.45
7. Armik / Captain Brian Cournane / Mr & Mrs Stiller & Brian Cournane / IRL / 0 | 82.37 / 4 | 41.17
8. Leone JEI / Martin Fuchs / Adolfo Jui / SUI / 0 | 82.80 / 4 | 42.04
9. Pacino Amiro / Bertram Allen / Aiden McGrory / IRL / 0 | 81.40 / EL
10. Gemma W / Daniel Bluman / Blue Star Investments & Over The Top Stables / ISR / 1 | 83.84
11. Chakaria / Andre Thieme / Pferde Management & Marketing / GER / 4 | 78.91
12. Souper Shuttle / Chloe Reid / Live Oak Plantation LLC / USA / 4 | 79.44