Under the lights in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), Abdel Said (EGY) and his own Bandit Savoie stole the show with a stunning victory in the $401,000 Fidelity Investments® Grand Prix CSI5*, on Saturday, March 13, as part of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
In the third CSI5* of the 2021 winter circuit, a field of 39 starters attempted the 1.60m track built by Ireland’s Alan Wade, with nine jumping clear to qualify for the jump-off. Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa set the pace early as the first to return aboard Carlito’s Way 6 owned by Artemis Equestrian Farm, LLC, with a clear jumping effort in a time of 41.45 seconds. Their pace was fast, but the door was left open and those who followed found a way in.
Fourth of nine to return, Cian O’Connor (IRL) and Kilkenny flew around the shortened track, electing to leave a stride out down the final line and the risk paid off. He and the nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Cardento x Mhs Pembrook Lady) owned by Ronnoco Jump Ltd moved into the lead with a clear effort, crossing the timers in 39.09 seconds.
Next to go, Said piloted his 10-year-old Selle Français gelding (Qlassic Bois Margot x Falmera) around the track effortlessly, opting to make up the time through the turns, moving swiftly across the ground in nine strides to the final fence to take over the lead in 38.70 seconds. It was the pair following Saïd that kept everyone on the edge of their seats as the quick combination of Daniel Deusser (GER) and Killer Queen VDM gave it their best effort. Deusser, ranked third in the world, guided the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Eldorado Vd Zeshoek x Derly Chin De Muze) owned by Stephex Stables to a clear effort, stopping the clock just one-hundredth of a second off the leading time in 38.71 seconds.
In the end, it was Saïd who prevailed to take the victory on the talented gelding he purchased in September from the number one ranked rider in the world, Steve Guerdat. “He is a feisty little horse who is definitely a trier,” said Saïd of the winning gelding. “I love the fire he has in him. It was causing us to have some rails at the past few shows because I didn’t really know him, but I sold my two main grand prix horses earlier in the circuit, so he had to really step up.