Nayel Nassar Joins The Million Dollar Club At HITS Ocala

Thursday, March 28, 2019
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Nayel Nassar-HITS Mil-2019417 -cover.jpg
Nayel Nassar and Lucifer V
Nayel Nassar and Lucifer V ©Mary Phelps 2019

Just one week after seeing his bid come up just short in the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix at the HITS Coachella Desert Circuit, and watching Beezie Madden become the first rider to win a HITS Million in each location, Nayel Nassar quickly joined that exclusive club. With his maiden victory coming at HITS Saugerties in 2013, followed by his winning ride in 2018 at HITS Coachella, Nassar rode LUCIFER V to his milestone victory during the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix.

His performance in recent weeks becomes even more amazing considering the depth of talent competing in these prestigious HITS events. The Great American $1 Million Grand Prix had a field of 44 of the nation’s top riders competing to earn the coveted title of winner. Nassar knew he would have to be clean and fast to secure his spot in the history books.

Nassar and LUCIFER V jumped clean during the first round, ultimately joining eight other horse and riders in the jump-off. Going first out of the gate, showing incredible speed and agility, the pair jumped clean in 35.559, setting a standard that would’t be matched by the other competitors. “LUCIFER V seems to be settling into this level of competition,” said Nassar discussing the relationship between horse and rider. “He’s a really cool, really special little horse and today luck was on my side.”

After their record-setting performance in both the desert and central Florida, it’s a sentiment shared by Tom Struzzieri. “We’re seeing someone on the top of their game, which is extraordinary,” stated the HITS President and CEO. “That’s very unique and we’re very pleased to see that level of performance.”

A happy Paul O'Shea after first clear round. ©Mary Phelps 2019
A happy Paul O'Shea after first clear round ©Mary Phelps 2019

For Paul O'Shea, who was chasing the Million win from HITS Coachella to HITS Ocala, things began to line up for him in the first round.

He jumped clear and earned a spot in the jump-off, chasing the title once again. He went into the jump-off knowing Nassar would be tough to beat, "It was a super course, I think I did all I could in the jump off, when it came down to it."

Darragh Kenny and Important D'Muse
Darra H Kenny and Important De Muse ©Mary Phelps 2019

Darragh Kenny knew he would have to be fast and clean to catch the two riders ahead of him in the rankings, "It was going to be tough to beat him [Nassar], we'd have to take a lot of risks."

Kenny's risks paid off to put him on the leader-board with yet another clear round and the two fastest times in the class.

"I thought it was a great course and I thought we had the right number in the jump-off for it to be a good sport and a good class," commented Nassar on his other competitors in the last round of competition.

2nd Place: Paul O'Shea & IMERALD VAN'T VOORHOF (36.170)
3rd Place: Darragh Kenny & IMPORTANT DE MUZE (36.411)