Imagine, for a moment, that you were to scan the world top 150 rankings and pick the rider least likely to be paired with a horse named Lucifer.
Baby faced Martin Fuchs (SUI) might stand out.
Or doe eyed Ben Maher (GBR).
But the obvious choice would be the very rider currently wiping arena floors with Evergate LLC’s speed demon, Egypt’s Nayel Nassar.
Warm, humble, unfailingly polite, this is a guy who celebrated his first (of three) HITS Million grand prix wins—at age 22—by going out for a quiet dinner with his groom and whose mom will wrap complete strangers in an affectionate embrace simply for being introduced.
Nassar is a gentle soul. But he’s riding on the devil’s shoulders atop Lucifer V and they’ve quickly become a force to be reckoned with for their deadly fast rounds in speed classes and Grand Prix, alike.
For the second time in the space of a week, the two-time World Cup finalist and 13-year-old Westphalian gelding proved unbeatable at the Longines Masters of New York.
Twenty-nine combinations contested Frank Rothenberger’s course in the $400,000 Longines Grand Prix of New York, held at NYCB LIVE on Sunday.
With the top 12 returning for the second round, each progressively faster than the last, Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts and H&M Cue Channa 42 set the standard when they shaved a second off Daniel Bluman (ISR) and Landriano Z’s time to stop the clock at 40.93 seconds. One round later, world number four Harrie Smolders (NED) and Une de l’Othain proved under the 40 mark was possible, clocking in at 39.46 seconds to move into the lead.
But Nassar saved the best for last. Speeding around the course from the first to the last with lightning ground speed and daring turns, he and Lucifer galloped home through the timers in 38.59 seconds and set the crowd alight!
“He’s such a trier and an athletic horse; he’s faster than anything I’ve ever ridden before with a natural ability to leave the jumps up,” said Nassar, 28, of Lucifer V.
“He really jumps with his heart and it’s an incredible partnership to have a horse like that. He loves to go fast! You know you have a chance to win every time you come out. It’s an incredible feeling and I’m grateful to have him.”
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OMG!!! 😱😱 What just happened??!! Simply at a loss for words to describe the incredible animal that is Lucifer V 😈, I owe it ALL to him and the magnificent squad that is @evergatestables. Thank you thank you THANK YOU to everyone who brought the house down with their cheers, to my family for being there to support me, and to my person @jenniferkgates who continuously inspires me to be great. Love you baby! ❤️ Believe it or not this was my very first FEI 5* GP victory and it couldn’t have been more special. I was last to go in the 2nd round (and my nerves could feel it I tell ya) AND I got to share the podium with one of my idols and teammates @harriesmolders who was also riding an Evergate steed 🐴. Finally, thank you @longinesmasters for giving me this one of a kind opportunity. This one is gonna take a while to sink in. ✌🏽out New York, it’s been UNreal! 🎊💥 🎉 #twofortwo 📸 @horseandstylemag @ashleyneuhofphotography @danimacphoto
The win marks the first 5* Grand Prix victory of Nassar’s career. The speedy pair also claimed Friday’s highlight event, the Longines Speed Challenge, making them the first pair ever to capture both feature classes of the Longines Masters series.
“It’s unexpected, really!” said Nassar when asked what it was like to write Longines Masters history. “It means the world.”