November 2016 - Show Jump City

Top horses, riders & fans headed to Las Vegas National Nov. 15-20.

by Pam Maley & Jackie McFarland

With riders hailing from around the world, the star power is building for the Las Vegas National CSI4*-W, and the international West Coast contingent is impressive. From young champion Nayel Nassar, who was brilliant at the Los Angeles Masters, to Olympians Will Simpson, Rich Fellers, Eduardo Menezes, and more, you don’t want to miss the show jumping thrills and adventures that only Las Vegas offers.

Nayel Nassar and Lordon at LA Masters. Photo: Ashley Neuhof

Nayel Nassar & Lordan

Twenty-five-year-old Nayel Nassar, born in Chicago and raised in Kuwait, is headquartered in Southern California and represents Egypt, his parents’ homeland.

With his easy-going charm and ready smile, Nassar has become a West Coast favorite in just a few short years. He and his partner Lordan were victorious in the 2013 HITS $1 Million at Saugerties, NY, finished second in the 2014 HITS $1 Million at Thermal, and also competed at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy.

On an upward trajectory, an injury put Lordan out of competition in 2015. Nassar, with his veterinary support team, slowly and carefully brought him back to be fully competition-ready.

A small horse -- Nassar thinks he’s about 16 hands but the mighty mount will not let a measuring stick near him for more than a few seconds -- Lordan has a big heart and loves to jump. He missed the show ring and has proven it with a list of impressive results this season.

The pair kicked off the comeback with a $100,000 FEI Longines World Cup Show Jumping win at the HITS Desert Circuit. In May they led the victory gallop for the $60,000 Blenheim Grand Prix of California, while in June they won the $129,500 CSIO4* Nations Week Finale Grand Prix at Thunderbird Show Park. And at the recent Longines Los Angeles Masters CSI5* in October, he and the 12-year-old Hanoverian were the West Coast story of the competition, holding their own against several of the world’s top-ranked riders.

They won the $95,000 Longines Speed Challenge on Friday, laying down a time that even the international riders couldn’t match, over a particularly tricky course. And when the pair finished a close second behind 2014 FEI World Cup Finals Champion Daniel Deusser in the $377,500 Longines Grand Prix of Los Angeles, Nassar pointed down to Lordan to signal to the cheering crowd that the credit should be given to his horse.

The Dude & His Dude Will Simpson

The Dude & Will Simpson. Photo: Alden Corrigan

Two familiar West Coast faces, 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Will Simpson, and his current partner, 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding, The Dude, will take the stage at the South Point Arena and Equestrian Center.

The victories are sweet for this pair, and together they can be unbeatable. In 2014, Simpson purchased the horse for Nicoletta Heidegger to show, but her busy schedule didn’t give her time to ride, so she asked Simpson to take the reins. Soon after, The Dude and Simpson were show jumping superstars, winning grand prix after grand prix in the winter of 2015.

In January of this year, he was sold to Nicole (Nikki) Walker (CAN) but Walker soon realized that although The Dude is truly a talent, his past rider often brought out the best in him. So she asked Simpson to show the horse again.  
The match is uncanny, the two “dudes” like to pair up and jump big courses. After competing in a few easy classes, they were soon reacquainted, and the victory gallops ensued. In June they won twice in Thunderbird, in July they conquered Colorado and then upon returning to California they repeated their stellar performances, winning the two highlight classes at the Showpark All Seasons Summer Tournament.

Definitely a match for the long-term, Simpson and The Dude belong together and are destined for international acclaim. Always a crowd favorite, these two have a synergy that can light up an arena.

Fresh From Rio: Eduardo Menezes and Quintol

Quintol and Eduardo Menezes. Photo: McCool Photography

From Florida to Falsterbo, Brazil’s Eduardo Menezes had a whirlwind year, spending months in Europe and culminating with the chance to live his dream, wearing the colors of his native country when competing at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Every time he and his teammates Doda De Miranda, Pedro Veniss and Stephan De Frietas Barcha entered the stadium, they did so to deafening cheers and high-spirited flag waving, as the home crowd showed their support.

In the world’s most competitive outdoor setting, 15 countries rode for gold. Team Brazil entered the final round in a five-way tie for first place, as the crowd watched their riders give it their all against France, Germany, Canada and the U.S. Although Brazil would finish fifth, they were nonetheless impressive to the fans. Cheers of support rocked the arena as the host country hailed its top riders.

Menezes and his Olympic mount, the 11-year-old Oldenburg, Quintol, have come a long way in a few short years. Purchased as a “wild yet talented” 7-year-old, Menezes could see international dreams coming true with Quintol. Competing at FEI World Cup Finals, Pan American Games as well as Olympic Games, they have logged clean rounds and earned top placings at a number of the world’s best venues with many years left to add to their accolades. Without a doubt ones to watch in Vegas.

Fellers & Flexible

Rich Fellers and Flexible, 2012 FEI World Cup Champions and Olympians, are another West Coast pair that have captured the hearts of show jumping fans everywhere. Flexible, now in his 20th year and still going strong, is a testament to the meticulous, top-quality care he has received in Fellers’ hands. Winner of the 2012 USEF International Horse of the Year Award, Fellers says the 16-hand Irish Sporthorse stallion may be small, but his heart is big. And possibly his passion for jumping even bigger!

From the chubby little Appaloosa that began his riding career at age 11 to Flexible (and others along the way), Fellers has become one of the most decorated riders competing on the West Coast circuit. He currently stands among the top all-time money winners at Spruce Meadows.

Flexible & Rich Fellers. Photo: McCool Photography

Fellers has ridden in the colors of Team USA many times over the years. Among numerous other international competitions, he and Flexible have competed in seven consecutive FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals from 2007 to 2013, highlighted by a second-place finish at the Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, and top honors in the 2012 Final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, the first American pair to win in 25 years. In 2015, Fellers and Flexible competed in the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final once again, in Las Vegas, finishing seventh.

Truly the little engine that could, Flexible enters the arena like the Eveready bunny, charged and ready to win. This dynamic duo will light up the South Point arena.  

Stars & Sizzle Aplenty

The 2016 Las Vegas National, CSI4*-W, scheduled for November 15-20 is certain to sizzle.  Along with the aforementioned excellence in sport, Blenheim EquiSports will welcome more internationally-known names as the date nears.

November will be here before we know it, so now is the time for show jumping aficionados everywhere to plan a trip to that wonderful city that never sleeps. Located at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa’s unique Equestrian Center, the evenings of heart-stopping competition commence on Wednesday, with the not-to-be-missed highlight event at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19, the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Las Vegas, presented by Interactive Mortgage.

With the unmatched glam and glitter of the fairy-tale city that is Las Vegas awaiting just outside your door, it’s truly a combination not found anywhere else in the world. So get your glitz on and make your plans - an unmatched adventure awaits!

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