Tag Archives: Ben Maher

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.

Phenomenal Horsepower Propels London Knights to 2019 GCL Championship Victory

Ben Maher and Explosion W. Photo by GCL/Stefano Grasso.

New York, NY – The power pairings of Explosion W and Ben Maher and Clooney 51 and Martin Fuchs propelled London Knights to victory in the GCL New York and the overall 2019 Championship with drama until the final seconds.

Four flawless clear rounds were delivered by the unbeatable Knights who secured a historic second GCL title win after a rollercoaster season saw their duel with St. Tropez Pirates dominate the team series this year.

The Knights finished three points ahead of St. Tropez Pirates, with a total of 326 points this year. Madrid in Motion secured third in the Championship with 303 points, with the Shanghai Swans just hanging onto their fourth place, meaning they too will fast-track to the semi-finals at the GCL Super Cup at the GC Prague Playoffs.

The dramatic backdrop of the Lower Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty provided one of the greatest stages for top-level show jumping as the world’s top riders and horses competed in the LGCT and GCL Finals for the first-time ever on Governors Island.

New Yorkers and visitors to the City filled the grandstands and cheered on the teams including home city team New York Empire, owned by Georgina Bloomberg who was watched by her father and former New York Mayor Michael.

Among guests were tennis ace Andre Agassi, supermodel Christy Turlington, and fashion designer Donna Karan for the first ever LGCT event in New York.

It was all about big names, big views, and big guns as the Knights fielded their top horses in their bid to seize the GCL Championship.

“For me, I’m biased but I have an incredible horse. To team up like this is a unique concept, where can you bring these kinds of horses together from different countries and compete like this. It was memorable day that’s for sure.

I’ve been to New York a couple times before to visit. It’s an incredible city. I don’t think anyone was sure what to expect. But, when we came here, like Global Champions does, they make the logistics incredibly easy for the grooms and the horses. The accommodations and how we are all looked after is five star. For the first year, I think the show is a huge success. There were big crowds here; it was well advertised and when I came out of the ring there were many people saying they enjoyed the day so hopefully this will grow.” ~ Ben Maher

City of Dreams Delivers as Maher Takes 2019 LGCT Title in New York

It was ‘game, set, and match’ after Ben Maher (GBR) wrote history aboard Explosion W in an extraordinary Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of New York, taking the LGCT Grand Prix win and the 2019 Championship title just hours after helping to secure the GCL team series crown for the London Knights.

In the city that never sleeps it would turn out to be a superlative showdown with a script that sporting dreams are made of. With spectators filling the rafters of the grandstand and positioned in every inch of space, the equestrian world watched as the knife-edge Championship reached its conclusion on Governors Island.

Devos (BEL) lead the overall ranking by just one point, but with pressure reaching fever pitch it was Ben Maher (GBR) who kept a cool head in a seven-rider jump-off to catapult himself to the title win – his second after taking the 2018 Championship.

A beaming Ben said: “I knew it would be a tough weekend – the dream was to win the team [title] and the individual. It doesn’t happen often. What a horse – he’s incredible. He understands me, I understand him, we have a great connection, and it’s a pleasure to be in the sport like this.

“It’s incredible [to win the title for a second year running]. Last year was unexpected; this year I’ve used Explosion a little less; I’ve used Concona, Madame X and F One USA, so I’m lucky to have so many great horses and great owners.”

In a touching sporting moment, Maher praised his rival Pieter Devos, who was just beaten into second place in the Championship. “[Pieter] gave a great fight; it was a push all the way to the end. I’m sure he’s going to come back strong.”

More info: www.gcglobalchampions.com.

Contact: Jennifer Wood
jennifer@jumpmediallc.com

Championship Decider on Knife Edge as Knights Take Pole in New York

Ben Maher of the London Knights aboard Explosion W. Photo by GCL/Stefano Grasso.

New York, NY – In a script worthy of the Broadway stage, GCL New York Round 1 saw the London Knights claim pole position – propelling themselves back into the 2019 title fight as Saturday’s Championship decider rests on a knife edge.

London Knights’ formidable combination of Martin Fuchs with Clooney 51 and Ben Maher aboard Explosion W blew away the competition in a jaw-dropping class, taking pole position and every advantage possible heading into Saturday’s showdown.

However, just one rail away after the results are the current ranking leaders St. Tropez Pirates, with Pieter Devos and Dani G. Waldman collecting just 4 faults in the complex class to put them within touching distance of a podium – and the Championship title.

In a drama-fueled day, the Shanghai Swans – who were placed second in the overall rankings so far – were eliminated from the competition after Peder Fredricson and Zacramento unexpectedly parted ways during the first round of action. Their elimination would mean the team cannot improve on their score, dropping the Swans out of contention for the title.

Martin Fuchs spoke after their round: “It helped that we have two of the best horses in the world and are in great shape, so it’s a great start. My horse Clooney is in the best shape he’s ever been now.”

Teammate and team manager Ben Maher revealed the team’s tactics: “Martin and I sat down and we had a plan this week. We have our two best horses here, and it’s the first time we’ve teamed them up together.”

But the experienced British Olympic gold medalist remained clear-headed: “One minute you can be winning, the next you can be out, and every score counts. We’ve come with one of the best teams possible this weekend to put pressure on the others, so we’ll hope to produce more clear rounds tomorrow.”

Constant van Paesschen Dazzles in LGCT New York Opener

Victory was sweet for Belgium when Constant van Paesschen and his striking 10-year-old black stallion Vendetta Treize took top call in the opening event of the inaugural Longines Global Champions Tour New York. Eduardo Alvarez Aznar (ESP) claimed the runner-up position riding F, while Abdel Saïd (EGY) rounded out the top-three podium finishes on Axel 111 Z.

With his mount’s owner and breeder, Amandine Wittouck, watching from the sidelines, van Paesschen posted a blistering clear over Uliano Vezzani’s (ITA) opening CSI5* track. Of the round, he touted: “The horse jumped very well and it’s a very nice feeling to win. I wanted to try and leave one out somewhere, but I saw that it wasn’t coming up like I wanted so I stuck to the plan. The horse really tried, and I was crossing my fingers!

“To realize [an event] at this venue is unbelievable,” continued van Paesschen of the latest breathtaking addition to the LGCT circuit on Governors Island in New York, NY. “We have been riding all year in unbelievable locations, but this one stands out.”

Panoramic views of downtown Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty provided a quintessential backdrop for the first day of competition at the Longines Global Champions Tour of New York and the riders rose to the test.

More info: www.gcglobalchampions.com.

Contact: Jennifer Wood
jennifer@jumpmediallc.com

Show Jumping A-List Heads for LGCT New York Finals

Jessica Springsteen. Photo by Stefano Grasso/LGCT.

New York, NY – An A-List of the world’s show jumping stars is heading for the LGCT Finals in New York on September 27-29 on Governors Island in New York City.

With anticipation mounting, it was revealed that some of the top U.S. riders competing at the spectacular venue of Governors Island will be McLain Ward, Kent Farrington, Georgina Bloomberg, Margie Goldstein-Engle, Jessica Springsteen, and Jennifer Gates.

They will be up against a star-studded international field including Pieter Devos (BEL), Marcus Ehning (GER), Ben Maher (GBR), Daniel Deusser (GER), Peder Fredericson (SWE), Martin Fuchs (SUI), Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS), Darragh Kenny (IRL), Scott Brash (GBR), Harrie Smolders (NED), Simon Delestre (FRA), Malin Baryard-Johnsson (SWE), and Olivier Philippaerts (BEL).

Every afternoon from Friday, September 27 to Sunday, September 29, the top athletes in show jumping will face off in the purpose-built sand arena and there is FREE ADMISSION for spectators who will be able to watch the competition.

U.S. rider Jessica Springsteen, who won last weekend’s LGCT Grand Prix in St. Tropez, spoke of the excitement surrounding the event in New York, near where she grew up with her dad Bruce and mom Patti in New Jersey. She said: “It’s my hometown; my whole family are coming. I think it is going to be unbelievable – I’m so looking forward to it!”

Star Strikers Revealed for Final GCL Face Off in New York

High stakes, enormous pressure, and big expectations… the GCL team competition is set to reach fever pitch as the battle for supremacy rockets to its conclusion in New York.

Throughout the year the GCL team competition has seen more drama, tactics, and excitement than ever before, with all 16 teams experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions this season.

Currently leading are the St. Tropez Pirates with a score of 304 points, closely followed by the Shanghai Swans on 302 so far. Just six points behind at 296 are the former leaders and 2018 Champions London Knights, while Madrid in Motion are a further six points away with 290 overall.

As well as the Championship title, teams are fighting for a place in the GC Prague Playoffs GCL Super Cup, with the top four ranked teams fast-tracking to the semi-finals – a huge advantage in the fight for the 3 million euro prize pot and chance to etch their names into the history books.

An Unmissable LGCT Showdown in New York

The Longines Global Champions Tour Finals in New York are set to be an unmissable showdown with only one point separating the season’s top two riders, Pieter Devos (BEL) and Ben Maher (GBR), in the Championship.

The fight for the LGCT crown is on a knife edge in one of the closest duels in the history of the LGCT. In a dramatic shake-up last weekend, Devos took over the ranking lead after finishing second in the LGCT Grand Prix of Ramatuelle/Saint-Tropez, putting him on 278 points, just one point ahead of Maher on 277.

Both riders have been volleying for the lead, leapfrogging each other to take over the top spot in the ranking at different points throughout the season.

However, with only nine scores counting in each rider’s tally, Maher is in a slightly stronger position heading into the Finals in New York despite being second currently in the ranking.

Contact: Jennifer Wood
jennifer@jumpmediallc.com