Tag Archives: Ben Maher

Ben Maher Wins 20th Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final

Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof.

Ten of the world’s very best show jumping athletes battled it out in the headline class on day two of CHI Geneva 2021, with each partnership vying to be crowned Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final champion in the 20th edition of this epic encounter. Contested over two rounds, the Gérard Lachat- and Louis Konickx-designed course would be the ultimate test of horsemanship, requiring a perfect balance of speed, precision, and harmony between horse and rider.

First to go, Frenchman Kevin Staut and his 14-year-old mare, Tolede de Mescam Harcour, were unlucky to put one fence down. Next up, current world number eight Jérôme Guery and his stallion, Quel Homme de Hus, crossed the finish line fault-free, much to the delight of the Belgian. Great Britain’s Ben Maher and his superstar gelding Explosion W followed Guery’s lead, making no mistake around the 12-obstacle test. Then followed a procession of five riders, Henrik von Eckermann, Steve Guerdat, Scott Brash, Kent Farrington, and Martin Fuchs, who were all unable to record a clear round. The last two riders out of the 10 starters – Germany’s Daniel Deusser and Swede Peder Fredricson – showed their class, breezing the course with ease, each without a fault.

A slightly shortened second round, made up of nine obstacles, awaited the evening’s competitors. As well as the half-time break giving the volunteers an opportunity to modify the course, the Geneva Arena’s spectators were treated to some sad but celebratory words from legendary Canadian rider, Eric Lamaze, as his adored 18-year-old mare Fine Lady 5 was retired. Lamaze and Fine Lady won the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final in 2016, so the setting for a final goodbye was very fitting.

First to go in round two, home favourite Martin Fuchs picked up another fault, while compatriot Steve Guerdat and partner Victorio Des Frotards were also unable to record a clear round. Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping champion, Scott Brash, made amends for his first round penalty and time fault, going clear, but accumulating a total of five penalties. 2017’s Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final champion, Kevin Staut and his stunning grey received a huge cheer from a delighted crowd after they went clear. Current world number one Peder Fredricson wasn’t to be so fortunate, picking up a second fault to finish on eight penalties. A stunning and assured round by Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward was enough to knock Staut off top spot. Uncharacteristically, Deusser’s mount Killer Queen VDM refused the second fence putting him out of contention. The penultimate pair to go, reigning Individual Olympic champion Ben Maher and Explosion W went brilliantly clear, beating von Eckermann into second place by nearly two seconds. All eyes were then on Jérôme Guery to cause a late upset; however, a fence down and a slower time saw him slot into third, meaning Maher would be crowned 2021’s Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final champion, rounding off a truly memorable year.

On the part that his team played in his victory, Maher commented: “My team plays a huge part. My owners are here to watch this evening, and without them I wouldn’t be able to be riding Explosion W over the last few years. My groom Cormac has been with me since he was 16 years old, so he’s grown up together with me, and it’s very special for me to see him take big moments like this, and it wouldn’t be possible without him.”

Read more here.

© 2021 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Who to Look Out For at CHI Geneva 2021

Martin Fuchs and Clooney 51 (Photo: CHI de Genève / scoopdyga.com)

After nearly two years of waiting, the highly anticipated CHI Geneva returns from 9-12 December, representing the fourth and final Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major of the year. The show will host an impressive number of world-class horse and rider combinations, including all of the current top 10-ranked riders, 17 of the current top 20, as well as featuring seven Rolex Testimonees. The show will celebrate its 60th edition, as well as the 20th anniversary of the IJRC Rolex Top 10 Final. As ever, CHI Geneva will be a truly international affair, with those riders competing representing 16 nations, and the home nation boasting a squad of 19.

After his remarkable maiden victory in the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen in September, Live Contender and current world number two, Daniel Deusser, has confirmed his talented mare Killer Queen VDM will travel to the Swiss capital in his quest to continue his Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping journey. CHI Geneva, the pinnacle of the international indoor show jumping calendar for top riders, will once again provide one of the toughest tests in the sport when it culminates with the Rolex Grand Prix, which requires the highest level of talent and horsemanship in order to be crowned champion.

Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping – Rider Watch

Current world number one, Peder Fredricson from Sweden, looks incredibly competitive and the one to watch heading into the final Major of the year. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Team champion has strength in depth in his talented team of horses, and will be the rider to beat in the Geneva Arena in front of the Palexpo’s knowledgeable crowds.

Fredricson’s compatriot, Henrik von Eckermann, played an integral role in Sweden’s Olympic success in Japan this summer. Currently ranked number two in the world, von Eckermann, who recently won the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona aboard his trusted partner, King Edward, will be aiming to add a Major win at CHI Geneva to his superb year.

Reigning Olympic Individual gold medallist, Ben Maher, will take his magnificently gifted gelding, Explosion W, to CHI Geneva. Winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at Royal Windsor Horse Show in May this year, the Briton will be looking to round off an exceptional 12 months with a win at 2021’s final Rolex Grand Slam Major.

Read more here.

© 2021 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Ben Maher amongst World’s Best Show Jumpers Heading to London International Horse Show

Great Britain’s Olympic individual champion, Ben Maher MBE, heads an illustrious list of international Show Jumping entries for the London International Horse Show 2021. The confirmed line-up will facilitate five days of world-class competition at ExCeL London from 16-20 December, adding to an already stellar schedule of competitive action and spectacular international displays.

Maher, currently ranked No. 8 in the world, will be seeking to crown an exceptional year with success at the London International, but will face stiff competition from the world’s best riders. His London 2012 Olympic gold medal-winning teammate Scott Brash MBE, also part of the GB team in Tokyo, will be hot on his heels, as the World No. 5 seeks to recapture the prestigious London International Horse Show Grand Prix title which he claimed in 2019.

Also representing Team GB in Tokyo were Harry Charles and Holly Smith, who will both head to ExCeL full of confidence following successful autumn campaigns, which included being part of the team to win the Challenge Cup at the FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona. Their teammates that day, Emily Moffit and John Whitaker, always a crowd favourite, will also line-up in London.

Guy Williams and Laura Renwick, notorious for their speed against the clock, will be sure to have the home crowd on their feet throughout the five days of action, as will William Funnell who will be looking to recreate the form which lead him to victory at the 2019 Show. Young rider Jack Whitaker, son of multiple London International Horse Show winner Michael, is also amongst the strong British contingent taking part.

Their international counterparts will be mounting a strong challenge, led by World No. 4, Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs, who will be looking to repeat his 2019 success, which saw him crowned champion of the London leg of the FEI Jumping World Cup. Compatriot Steve Guerdat, the current World No. 8, will be returning to the city where he was crowned individual Olympic champion in 2012, following an excellent year, which included being part of the Swiss 2021 European Championship gold medal-winning team alongside Fuchs.

The Irish riders, Denis Lynch, Shane Breen, and Michael Duffy, will be ones to watch and will be hoping the luck of the Irish is with them in London. From Austria will be Max Kühner, who will look to go one better than his second-place finish in the FEI Jumping World Cup at the 2019 Show, with Christian Ahlmann and Marcus Ehning from Germany bringing further quality to the distinguished line-up.

Belgium will be sending a strong team, including Niels Bruynseels, Gregory Wathelet, and Pieter Devos, as will France, led by World No. 11 Kevin Staut. Compatriot Mathieu Billot, fresh from an outstanding Puissance win at CSI4* Rouen, will be looking to make it a double when he takes on the famous Puissance wall on the opening night of The London International Horse Show.

Simon Brooks-Ward, Show Director, said: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming some of the world’s best show jumpers to our new home at ExCeL London. The facilities at the venue are second-to-none, setting the scene for an outstanding five days of competition, and we can’t wait for it to get going.”

More information about The London International Horse Show, including how to buy tickets, can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Summer Rolex Grands Prix Season Results

Jessica Springsteen rocks the Rolex Grand Prix presented by Audi at the Brussels Stephex Masters (Photo: Sportfot)

The period between 2021’s first two Rolex Grand Slam Majors – The Dutch Masters in April and the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in September – played host to no fewer than five top-class show jumping events, each featuring a prestigious Rolex Grand Prix as the pinnacle class of the show, which attracted the world’s very best riders and horses.

The 1m60 Rolex Grand Prix presented by Audi concluded five days of entertaining jumping from 23-27 June at Knokke Hippique in the north-west of Belgium. After nine riders progressed to the jump-off, local hero and Tokyo 2020 Team bronze medallist, Jérôme Guery, and his bay stallion, Quel Homme de Hus, proved far too strong for the rest of the field, finishing over six seconds ahead of second-placed riser and Rolex Testimonee, Kevin Staut.

Royal Windsor Horse Show’s crowd in the iconic Castle Arena in the shadow of Windsor Castle witnessed a dominant display of horsemanship on 4 July, after another local hero, Ben Maher, and his extraordinarily talented stallion, Explosion W, took the honours in the CSI5* Rolex Grand Prix ahead of Swiss Rolex Testimonee, Steve Guerdat. The Briton’s next stop would be Tokyo 2020, where he and his dependable equine partner were eventually crowned Individual Olympic champions.

Rolex was warmly welcomed to The Masters of Chantilly, as the show’s Official Sponsor, Official Timepiece, and Title Sponsor of the Grand Prix. Staged on the manicured lawns of the Hippodrome de Chantilly from 6-11 July, it was Nicolas Delmotte, who brilliantly continued the local hero theme. The Frenchman and his gelding, Urvoso du Roch, triumphed by just 0.36 seconds over Swiss Martin Fuchs, yet another Rolex Testimonee who had to settle for second place.

Brittany’s Emerald Coast provided an exquisitely picturesque location for the Jumping International de Dinard as spectators were welcomed back in the tribunes from 15-18 July, where Fuchs superbly made amends for his Chantilly disappointment. Paired this time with his gelding Connor 70, the current Individual world champion pipped Ireland’s Denis Lynch to top spot in the show’s finale, the CSI5* Rolex Grand Prix de Dinard.

The Brussels Stephex Masters 2021 climaxed on Sunday 29 August with its showpiece class: the CSI5* Rolex Grand Prix presented by Rolex. After nine combinations progressed to the jump-off, after navigating the 13-obstacle, Uliano Vezzani-designed course fault-free, it was the USA’s Jessica Springsteen and her 14-year-old mare, Rmf Zecilie who prevailed by a tenth of a second over Germany’s Daniel Deusser, with Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca slotting into third place over a second further back.

Read more here.

© 2021 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Individual Gold for Wedding-Bell-Bound Ben

(L to R): Peder Fredricson SWE (silver), Ben Maher GBR (gold), and Maikel van der Vleuten NED (bronze). (FEI/Christophe Taniere)

“I don’t know what was more pressure, this or getting married in two weeks!” said Great Britain’s Ben Maher as he clutched the Individual Jumping gold medal he just won at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Baji Koen.

“It doesn’t seem real. I think it will sink in tonight or tomorrow when I wake up. It’s been a lot of pressure the last couple of weeks. I may be biased but I believe I am on the best horse; he’s incredible and I’m very fortunate to be able to ride him,” said the 38-year-old athlete. Few of the other riders would argue about that.

With the 12-year-old Explosion W, he was already leading the posse after the qualifying competition, so he had the best of the draw when last to go in the first round. And having made the cut into the six-horse jump-off, he simply out-ran all the rest, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson having to settle for silver with All In at their second Olympic Games in a row, while The Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten and Beauville Z took the bronze.

Jump-Off

Course designer, Spain’s Santiago Varela, outdid himself once again with a first-round track that tested courage, scope, and speed, and six of the 30 starters, including a staggering three from Sweden, qualified for the jump-off.

IOC President Thomas Bach was one of a number of IOC dignitaries onsite at the Equestrian Park, and was very happy to watch the jump-off from the athletes’ tribune.

All six jumped clear again, and when pathfinder Daisuke Fukushima crossed the line with Chanyon in 43.76 seconds to set the first target it was a huge moment for the sport in Japan. Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson was next to go with her feisty mare, Indiana, who broke the beam three seconds quicker, but then compatriot Peder Fredricson raised the bar to a whole new level with a beautifully-executed run that saw him race across the line with All In in 38.02 seconds.

All eyes were on Maher who was next to go. The four-time Olympian who won team gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games is a formidable competitor, and with Explosion W is in a class of his own. He knew the expectations were high, but he handled it with grim determination and his brilliant 12-year-old gelding got him home in 37.85 seconds which never looked possible to beat.

Last of the Swedes, Henrik von Eckermann gave it his best shot with King Edward who stopped the clock in 39.71 seconds. That seemed plenty good enough for bronze, but Dutchman Maikel van der Vleuten set off with his jaw set square and steered Beauville Z home in 38.90 seconds to squeeze him off the podium.

No expectations

“It’s amazing because I came here with no expectations!” van der Vleuten said. “I have quite an inexperienced horse at championship level, and as we all saw yesterday, there is an extremely strong field here with many horses in good shape and how often in the past you do a good jump-off and you get fourth or fifth, and it was also not difficult today to get fourth or fifth. I was trying to go for it without overdoing him and it worked out well. I think the first two combinations (Maher and Fredricson) many people would have thought they had a big chance; they have so much experience and are fantastic riders, so to be third with this horse at this level is a little bit like gold for me!”

Fredricson was happy with silver, but it wasn’t the target. “All the top riders want to take the gold medal but today it was Ben’s day; he did a great round and that’s the way it goes; it’s really small margins.” Britain’s Nick Skelton pipped him for gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but the following year All in won the Individual European title before an injury in December 2017 left the horse out of action for 18 months. He only came back into competition work in April this year.

“I always had it in mind to have him in top shape here, but we were running a bit late with Covid and then the horse virus, and I was running out of time to get him the last bit of competition fit. I would say he just came into a peak when he came here. He jumped great yesterday, and today when I took him out, he was really good again,” he said of the 15-year-old horse whose track record also includes team silver at those European Championships four years ago.

Fifth equestrian medal

Maher’s gold is Great Britain’s fifth equestrian medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and only the second Individual gold his country has claimed since Jumping joined the Olympic Games in 1912. Compatriot Nick Skelton was the first Briton to win the Individual title when reigning supreme five years ago in Brazil. Only Britain and Germany have ever won back-to-back Individual Olympic Jumping titles, Ludger Beerbaum (Classic Touch, Barcelona 1992) and Ulrich Kirchhoff (Jus de Pommes, Atlanta 1996) posting Germany’s consecutive victories.

The new champion said, “There are so many people I owe this to in the end; obviously Explosion is the main one but there are vets, farriers that have been with me for 15 years, my team back home, Cormac Kenny who is my groom. He came to me from Ireland when he was 16 and he grew up with me and he’s here to be a huge part of this moment. My family, my fiancée Sophie – we are getting married in two weeks’ time – so many people. I’m looking forward to getting home and having a great celebration!” Maher said.

Facts and Figures:

Youngest athlete was 22-year-old Harry Charles from Great Britain.

Oldest athlete was 61-year-old Geir Gulliksen from Norway.

14 fences, 17 jumping efforts.

Great Britain has now claimed a total of 5 equestrian medals so far at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The horse Kilkenny, ridden by Cian O’Connor (IRL), had a nosebleed (epistaxis). The nine-year-old Irish-bred gelding, which completed the course with just a single time fault, was checked by veterinarians immediately after the competition and, as a precaution, the horse will go to the onsite Veterinary Clinic for a further examination.

Under the FEI Jumping Rules, blood on the flanks or in the horse’s mouth results in elimination; however, equine epistaxis is not a cause for elimination.

The horse Kilkenny has been withdrawn from the Team competition which begins on Friday.

Quotes:

Peder Fredricson, talking about All In: “When it’s really tough he really delivers; he’s so naturally careful. He’s a funny character: lazy combined with really strong flight sense; he has lot of personality for a small horse, but that doesn’t matter when he jumps like this!”

Scott Brash, Great Britain, who missed out on a place in the jump-off when picking us just a single time fault in the first round: “I’m gutted really, but I thought the course was built very well; he’s done a very good job, the course builder. To get six clears is spot on.”

Results here:  https://tokyo2020.live.fei.org/

by Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46+

Edge-of-the-Seat Start to Battle for Individual Jumping Medals

Ben Maher and Explosion W. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

There was an edge-of-the-seat start to Jumping at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with fluctuating fortunes in the opening first Individual competition. Only 30 of the 73 starters could qualify for the Individual medal-decider, and with many horses finding the atmosphere electrifying and the fabulous course of fences more than mesmerising, even the best of the best admitted that the 14-fence challenge was a big one. The colour and creativity of Santiago Varela’s course was nothing short of spectacular, and he gave them plenty to jump too.

Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs was partnering his superstar Clooney, who carried him to Individual glory at the European Championships in Rotterdam two years ago, but he still found the opening competition a big test.

“The course itself wasn’t super tricky, but what makes it difficult is that it’s the Olympic Games; the pressure is there; Clooney feels the pressure and I feel it; the rideability wasn’t as it should have been. But usually, he gets better from day to day and I think now we have the most difficult round of the week behind us,” Fuchs said.

Roar of approval

The was a big roar of approval when Japan’s Daisuke Fukushima produced the first clear of the competition when seventh to go with Chanyon, and the host nation were hugely impressive when all three of their riders made the cut to the Individual showdown. Other nations who also have three riders through are Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland, and Sweden, while Fuchs will be joined by Swiss compatriot Beat Mandli and both Egypt and The Netherlands will also have two representatives.

Britain’s Ben Maher produced the fastest round of the night with Explosion W so has the best of the draw. “We’ve been waiting a long time and we’ve been edgy to get going. It was a big enough course today and a lot of horses are a little bit spooky. I don’t know whether it’s the new jumps or the lights and I felt that with him. This is my most nervous round of the week. He’s a horse that improves as the rounds go on, so he was having a little look today, but he’s naturally a fast horse and he did everything he needed to do,” Maher said.

Second-fastest of the night was Ireland’s Darragh Kenny riding Cartello. “Not a lot of people know the horse – this is only my sixth FEI show with him; I’ve only had him since May,” Kenny pointed out. “He was with Irish riders before so he was in Irish ownership for the Olympics. Cormac Hanley and Lorcan Gallagher rode him and they both had great success with him; he’s been a good horse for everybody. He jumped great in Rome (ITA) and Madrid (ESP) over the last couple of months, but this week will be a big ask. But he feels up to it and we’ve had a great start,” he added.

Costly

There were four eliminations and four retirements during the competition, with the turn to the white vertical at fence 10 proving costly for several riders, the large Sumo Wrestler holding up the left-hand wing possibly something of a distraction here.

Penelope Leprevost, a member of the gold medal winning French team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, was one of its victims when Vancouver de Lanlore had a run-out. “I was trying to relax the horse on the turn and he was maybe surprised when he found himself so close to the vertical,” she said.

The only French rider through is Nicolas Delmotte with Urvoso du Roch, but for Team USA this was a bit of a shock. The side of Jessica Springsteen, Kent Farrington, and Laura Kraut were expected to be major players at these Games but none of them have qualified for the next stage of the Individual competition.

As Farrington said, “A harsh reality of our sport is one rail down and you’re out. In the new format tonight, it was all or nothing and unfortunately for the American team right now it’s nothing!”

Pressure

Olympic pressure is nothing new, and Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs talked about that.

“I was feeling a little nervous Sunday and Monday night, and yesterday I had a good talk with the sports psychologist for the Swiss team and he really helped me to ease the feeling a bit. I told him I’ve never had this feeling before, being nervous: it’s totally new to me. He gave me a few small but good advices and it helped me a lot.

“He asked me what was the problem. I told him on Sunday after the warm-up, I felt so excited because Clooney felt so good and thought, OK now we can win a medal. This carried me through the night and woke me up a couple of times and he said, Martin, what are you here for? I said to win a medal. He said, no, what are you doing here? I said, I ride. He said, exactly, you ride. You don’t need to think; we have other people to think; the Swiss team brought you here to ride and not to think, so just get on your horse and ride and leave the rest to the smart people!”

Quote:

Great Britain’s Ben Maher, talking about his recovery from surgery last year and his return to competitive sport:

“I struggled for a long time after a couple of falls in 2018/19. I had to have a physio travelling with me all the time and couldn’t walk very well; actually, on a horse I felt more comfortable, but life wasn’t much fun. So it was planned six months in advance and I had lower back surgery in London in January 2020, and I’m a new person now.

“I was nervous for a while if being healthier might make me worse in the ring, but it’s all good! I was in the gym a week later and back in saddle about nine weeks later. I rode two classes and then Covid kicked in and very little happened last year, so I’m really happy to be here.”

Results here:  https://tokyo2020.live.fei.org/

by Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46+

Maher Masters $37k Adequan WEF Challenge Cup Round 10 CSI3* aboard Ginger-Blue

Ben Maher (GBR) and Ginger-Blue © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – March 19, 2021 – Ben Maher (GBR) and Ginger-Blue, owned by Jane Forbes Clark, moved masterfully across the 1.50m course to win the $37,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 10 CSI3* on Friday, March 19, in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in the tenth week of the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).

Course designer Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) challenged the competition with a technical 1.50m track that featured 16 jumping efforts. A starting field of 93 entries was narrowed down to just nine qualifying and seven electing to return for the jump-off. Maher led the way as the first to return in the subsequent round, setting the pace aboard the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Plot Blue x Royal Bravour, with a clear effort in 39.66 seconds.

“I thought it was a big enough course for her,” said Maher of the mare’s double clear performance. “It’s tough here at WEF because the CSI3* weeks are very competitive, and the track is probably a lot bigger than a typical three-star grand prix qualifier. I think that proved it with only nine clears out of 93 horses, so it was clever course building and quite technical in the middle [of the course].

Young Talent Showcased in Developing Jumper Series Classics

Competition in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center kicked off Friday morning with the final competition for young five-, six-, and seven-year-old horses in the Developing Jumper Series (DJS) sponsored by Spy Coast Farm. The seven-year-old horses were the first to debut in the $20,000 DJS 7-Year-Old Classic where Alex Matz (USA) took the victory aboard the Vintage Sales entry, Jillz. Jillz was also presented with the Champion Equine Insurance Jumper Style Award presented by Laura Fetterman.

Matz and Jillz navigated both the first round and jump-off track fault-free and ultimately cleared the shortened effort the fastest by clocking in at 33.63 seconds. Matz has been partnered with the seven-year-old KWPN mare (Denzel VT Meulenhof x Cartina) since she was purchased at the VDL auction in Wellington, FL last season and has big plans for the bright young horse.

The six-year-old horses in the Developing Jumper Series classic were the next to take center stage in the International Arena. The top-placing 25 entries from the series returned to contest the track but Christian Coyle (IRL) ultimately piloted C&C Willow to the winning title. He expertly rode his young Irish Sport Horse mount (Emerald Van’t Ruytershof x Cortynan Loughahoe Girl) through double-clear rounds with a leading time of 35.00 seconds.

Coyle has had the young mare since she was a four-year-old after seeing her at the Northern Ireland Championships.

In the series finale of the Developing Jumper Series (DJS) sponsored by Spy Coast Farm, for five-year-old Developing Jumpers, Daniel Coyle (IRL) and Lovely Boy P, owned by Ariel Grange, produced a stellar double clear effort to take the blue ribbon. The new partnership is blossoming quickly as Friday’s win marked just the third time Coyle has ever ridden the five-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Campbell VDL x Arezzo VDL. The pair finished in a tie for fourth place on Wednesday in the qualifier.

With eight horse-and-rider combinations qualifying to jump-off over a shortened track in Sunday’s final, Coyle piloted the talented youngster effortlessly around the course to finish in a time of 35.17 seconds, taking the win by nearly a full second.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Kenny and Maher Take Top Titles in the $6,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Jumpers

Darragh Kenny and Cicomein VDL. © Sportfot.

January 27, 2021 – Wellington, FL – In a California split, Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Ben Maher (GBR) took home blue ribbons after topping a field of 121 entries in the $6,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Jumpers as week three of competition got underway at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Wednesday, January 27.

Just seventh to go in the starting order, Kenny and Cicomein VDL, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare owned by HCK Collection, LLC, navigated all eight obstacles in the jump-off without fault for a double clear effort in a time of 36.036 seconds, quick enough to hold the lead right through to the finish.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Ben Maher and Tic Tac Claim Victory in $137,000 Restylane Grand Prix CSI3*

Ben Maher and Tic Tac. © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – It was a thrilling finish for the final day of the second week of FEI competition at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) as Olympic team gold medalist Ben Maher (GBR) and the 18-year-old stallion Tic Tac, owned by Jane Forbes Clark, edged the competition by just one one-hundredth of a second to take top honors in the $137,000 Restylane Grand Prix CSI3* on Sunday, January 24.

On the derby field at Equestrian Village, a total of 42 entries entered the ring to tackle the course designed by Oscar Soberon (USA) with 12 qualifying to return for the jump-off. Maher executed the track flawlessly aboard the SBS stallion by Clinton x Panama Du Seigneur, leaving all eight obstacles in their cups to secure the win in a blistering time of 43.56 seconds, just one one-hundredth of a second ahead of Canada’s Eric Lamaze.

Ashley Vogel Marks Another Win in the $25,000 FEI Hermès U25 Grand Prix

The U25 riders took to the Derby Field at Equestrian Village on Sunday afternoon to contest the first $25,000 Hermès U25 Grand Prix, and the class of 55 welcomed 10 back for the jump-off on the Oscar Soberon-designed course. The U25 Series will return for WEF 4 with the $25,000 Hermès U25 Grand Prix Series Team Event.

Notching their second U25 victory of the week, Ashley Vogel (USA) and her 2009 Zangersheide mare Bellissimo Z (Bamako de Muze x C’est Elle Z) flew through the jump-off timers in 39.10 seconds, solidifying the blue ribbon during their first week ever competing on the Derby Field.

Trailing just behind the duo was Lucy Deslauriers (USA) aboard the Luja LLC’s 2011 Selle Francais gelding Billy de Beaufor (Allegreto x HH Rosine De Beaufor), finishing with 39.43 seconds on the clock. Third place went to the USA’s Tanner Korotkin and Deauville S, a 2006 Holsteiner gelding (Diamante de Semilly x Touch of Class) owned by Castlewood Farm Inc., who concluded their jump-off in 40.56 seconds.

Mark Bluman and Noortje Vd Windheuvel Victorious in the $30,000 CP Grand Prix

It was a day of firsts for Mark Bluman (ISR) as he and his mount, the eight-year-old Noortje Vd Windheuvel owned by Over the Top Stables, LLC, flew to the top of the podium in the $30,000 CP Grand Prix, their first grand prix class together. They were also first to go in the starting order, first to return in the jump-off, and as luck would have it, they ended the class in first place with a double-clear effort in a time of 42.784 seconds.

“Since we got her I’ve been saying that she [was] one of the most talented seven-year-olds I’ve ever ridden,” he beamed. “She has a great attitude, she’s quiet, and she always wants to do a good job for you. She’s fast, scopey, and has all the qualities to be a real grand prix horse.”

The Belgian Warmblood mare by Farfleu De Muze x Calista Vd Windheuvel showed those aforementioned qualities as they raced around the shortened course with authority to solidify the win.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Ben Maher Victorious over Eric Lamaze in Battle of Olympic Gold Medalists at Royal Horse Show

Ben Maher and Tic Tac. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

Toronto, ON – It was a true battle of excellence as Olympic team gold medalist Ben Maher of Great Britain nudged Canadian Olympic individual gold medalist Eric Lamaze for victory in the $85,000 Big Ben International Challenge on Thursday night, November 7, at the Royal Horse Show, held as part of the 97th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, ON.

Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt set a testing track that allowed the best horses and riders in the world to showcase their skills in front of a packed house in the Coca-Cola Coliseum. A total of 15 riders qualified for the jump-off, setting the stage for a battle of epic proportions.

As the 10th rider back for the jump-off, Lamaze set a blistering pace in front of the home crowd, slicing and dicing around the shortened track before galloping through the timers in 37.17 seconds. Next to challenge, Maher used Tic Tac’s huge stride to his advantage. When the clock flashed 36.75 seconds, Maher moved to the top of the leaderboard and remained there to take the win for owner Jane Clark.

“I think a lot of people didn’t like me in the stadium here this evening to beat Eric, but it’s sport; I always try my best!” said Maher, 34, who won a team gold medal as a member of the British team at the 2012 London Olympics.

“[Tic Tac] deserved this win,” continued Maher of the 16-year-old Belgian Sport Horse stallion. “He’s been knocking at the door. He didn’t jump many shows, but he had a couple of second places, so it’s nice to win a class with importance like this this evening.”

While Lamaze, 51, was forced to settle for second with Fine Lady 5, he currently leads both the GroupBy Leading International Rider and Leading Canadian Rider standings, helped by a win in the $37,000 Jolera International Strength and Speed Challenge on Wednesday, November 6.

Third place in Thursday night’s class went to Margie Goldstein Engle, 61, of the United States who stopped the jump-off clock in 37.61 seconds riding Dicas, owned by Gladewinds Partners, LLC.

Earlier in the day, Daniel Coyle of Ireland claimed the win in the afternoon’s featured $37,000 Brickenden Trophy. Riding Farrel for owner Ariel Grange, Coyle topped a 12-horse jump-off after posting the winning time of 31.85 seconds. Next into the Coca-Cola Coliseum, 18-year-old Brian Moggre of the United States made a valiant attempt to catch the leading time riding MTM Flutterby, but he settled for second place when the clock flashed 32.28 seconds. Australia’s Rowan Willis took third place with a time of 33.29 riding Calisto 26, while Lamaze and his mount, Chacco Kid, were fourth with a time of 33.68 seconds.

For more information, visit royalfair.org/horse-show.