Wellington, Fla. – Jan 27, 2022- Sixty-six elite horse-and-rider combinations competed Thursday morning in the International Arena of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center for the $50,000 Adequan WEF Challenge Cup CSI4* during Week Four of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). As the Winter Equestrian Festival continues to heat up, the competition remains fierce with Nayel Nassar of Egypt and his mount Igor Van de Wittemoere emerging on top of the leaderboard.
The 13-obstacle course designed by Peter Grant (CAN) put athletes to the test over a hefty course built across the arena. The demanding tour utilized the entirety of the vast arena and featured a challenging triple combination, which was the source of a number of rails knocked to the ground. Of the 66 participants, 15 advanced to the 8-obstacle jump-off with clear rounds.
With two pairs choosing to forgo the jump-off, the first rider in the ring was Belgium’s Jos Verlooy with Luciano Van Het Geinsteinde. Verlooy became the immediate pathfinder of the second round track, completing the shortened course in 42.27 seconds without knocking any rails. He was quickly overtaken, however, by Nassar on his mount Igor Van de Wittemoere, who posted a clear round time of 40.18 seconds, over two seconds quicker than Verlooy. Eduardo Pereirda de Menezes and Luiz Franscisco de Azevedo tried to replicate the previous clear rounds but fell victim to the difficult course. Three combinations would pass before another would come close to the leading time. Daniel Bluman and Cachemire de Braize of Israel demonstrated a quick and fault-free ride in 41.64 seconds, hot on the heels of Nassar. Four others would navigate the course, but all would fall short of Nassar’s clear time. The final combination on course was the United States’ Tanner Korotkin aboard Volo’s Diamond. Korotkin put forth a valiant effort, turning in a clear round in 42.01 seconds.
In the end, Nassar would maintain his early lead. His exceptional performance with Evergate Stables’ 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, Igor Van de Wittemoere, earned him top honors. Coming in second was Bluman of Israel with Over the Top Stables’ 10-year-old Selle Français gelding, Cachemire De Braize. Rounding out the top three was Korotkin and Volo’s Diamond, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Sandalwood Farms.
Show jumping competition at the 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival will continue with the $37,000 CSI 4* 1.45m Friday, January 28, kicking off at 9:24am in the International Ring at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Competition comes to a pinnacle Saturday night with the $216,000 NetJets Grand Prix cSI4*, and Sunday with the $75,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m CSI4*.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Nayel Nassar – $50,000 Adequan WEF Challenge Cup CSI4*
On the first round course:
“I thought the first round was perfectly built for this kind of class. There were a lot of entries so the time allowed was a little snug. I think they nailed it right on the head. It really suited my horse and there were some places I could put an extra stride in and just keep him together. I thought it was a very fair test for everyone.”
On the jump-off:
“We want him to jump in the Saturday night grand prix, and he’s generally a very fast horse naturally, so my plan was to just be very smooth and efficient and not take too much out of him. He rode back so well to the third fence which is a difficult turn for him, so I figured I would just kind of keep letting him roll and use his foot speed, and luckily that was enough today.”
On this partnership with Igor Van de Wittemoere:
“We got him at the beginning of 2020, so we’re coming up on a little over two years now. It took a little while at the beginning, he just has a lot of nervous energy. It took a little bit for us to mesh and figure out a system that works for him to calm him down. But I have to say, over the last year he’s probably been my best horse. I’ve taken him all over the world. He took me to my first Olympic Games. He won a great CSI5* grand prix this year and a couple other grand prix classes. He’s finally turning the corner. I always knew he was a horse that would probably peak in his older years just because of how much energy he has. Luckily, he’s proving me right so far. He’s really come into his own over the last year.”
$50,000 CSI 4* Adequan WEF Challenge Cup Series:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Country / R1 Time | R1 Faults / R2 Time | R2 Faults1
1. Igor Van de Wittemoere / Nayel Nassar / Evergate Stables LLC / EGY / 76.41| 0 / 40.18 | 0
2. Cachemire De Braize / Daniel Bluman / Over the Top Stables LLC / ISR / 78.22 | 0 / 41.64 | 0
3. Volo’s Diamond / Tanner Korotkin / Sandalwood Farms / USA / 77.62 | 0 / 42.01 | 0
4. Luciano Van Het / Jos Verlooy / Eurohorse BVBA / BEL / 74.26 | 0 / 42.27 | 0
5. F One USA / Lorenzo De Luca / Poden Farms / ITA / 75.6| 0 / 42.84 | 0
6. ABC Quantum Cruise / Hector Florentino / Wyndmont / DOM / 77.2 | 0 / 44.26 | 0
7. Double O Seven 111 Z / Juan Manuel Gallego / Juan Manuel Gallego / COL / 77.79 | 0 / 44.28 | 0
8. Une De L’Othain / Harrie Smolders / Evergate Stables LLC / NLD / 77.91 | 0 / 41.6 | 4
9. Arpege Du Ru / Abdel Said / Abdel Said / EGY / 76.23 | 0 / 41.95 | 4
10. My Way / Luiz Francisco De Azevedo / Santa Cecília Stables / BR / 77.47 | 0 / 43.72 | 4
11. L’Artiste De Toxandra / Ioli Mytilneou / Elia Construction SA / GRC / 77.5 | 0 / 49.18 | 8
12. Calypso Des Matis / Eduardo Pereira De Menezes / Eduardo Pereira De Menezes / BR / 73.4 | 0 / 44.1 | 12