Ben Maher lands another win at Wellington International

Monday 26 February 2024

Ben Maher lands another win at Wellington International

Ben Maher staked his claim in round seven of the Adequan WEF Challenge Cup on the seventh week of the three-month Winter Equestrian Festival at Wellington International in Palm Beach, USA.

Fifty riders faced the five-star track designed by The USA’s Anthony D’Ambrosio with 10 advancing into the jump-off.  it was hard-fought with less than a second separating the top three, Ben on Dallas Vegas Batilly pipping early leader, Ireland’s Andrew Bourns on Seatop Blue by more than two seconds.

Other riders chased hard but came up short, The USA’s Kent Farrington the nearest challenger in second aboard Landon, 0.68 seconds in arrears for second.

“I’m lucky with ‘Tilly’ – she has a huge stride, so I was able to get going and make up some time,” said Ben of the mare he owns together with Charlotte Rossetter and Pamela Wright. “It was lucky for me that I stayed ahead today. It’s always difficult to win here [at WEF] whether on Thursday or Saturday night.  When you have riders like Kent and Richard [Vogel] coming behind you, it’s never over until it’s over.”

The 11-year-old Selle Francais mare (Cap Kennedy x L’Arc De Triomphe Bois Margot) joined Ben 18 months ago and claimed a win in the 4* NetJets Grand Prix at WEF 2023.

“She’s been an incredible horse early in her career,” said Ben, 41. “She jumped great in the five-star a couple weeks ago and I felt she was on form, which is why we brought her back this week.  The horses have come together at the right time, and it really allows me to pick and choose what’s best for them.”

When asked about Dallas Vegas Batilly’s personality, Ben noted, “When you’re not on her, my 18-month-old son Cooper can sit on her and she’s the sweetest horse ever. When you’re on her, she has a lot of opinion and can get a little antsy.  It’s very important to keep smooth; I have to be the passenger not the pilot and get her to do things by asking her, not telling her. We've established a great relationship and I want to bring out the best in her. We saw today that she's a real fighter for me.” 

 

Ben narrowly missed out on a second win, settling for the runner-up spot in the 5* Hermes 1.50m on Faltic HB.  Eleven of the original 55 starters reached the jump-off, Ben and the Baltic VDL x Concorde 14-year-old finishing 0.52 seconds behind the winner, Mexico’s Carlos Hank Guerreiro with H5 Chacco-San.

 

Girl Power! British Ladies take the top two places in the feature Valencia Grand Prix

Claudia Moore seized her first 3* Grand Prix victory in the fourth and final week on the Moura Spring Tour at CES Valencia in Spain, with Hardesther.

Thirty-eight riders faced the testing 1.50m course but only five conjured up all the right answers to qualify for the jump-off, with the British riders proving superior. Claudia guided her mother Katrina’s consistent 12-year-old Kannan x Cardento mare into the top spot with speed and elan. Chloe Aston slotted into second place on the nine-year-old Akito Von Rocherath Z (Arko III x Numero Uno) four seconds in arrears with the only other double clear.

“Dreams really do come true,” said an overwhelmed Claudia, who had used this tour to prepare for the rest of the season. “’Hardy’ is my horse of a lifetime, I trust her and didn’t over-push her as she’s naturally fast.”

A winner the previous week, Sandy McLean got the ball rolling for the British contingent with a win in Thursday’s world ranking 3* 1.45m on his seasoned campaigner and top ride, Gino F.  Forty-four competitors came forward in this speed class with Sandy and the 13-year-old Gino (Ultimo x Grannus) doing what they do best, slicing every corner by near impossible angles to win with 1.02 seconds to spare.

Sandy also scored handsomely in the seven-year-old classes as Matthew Pike’s SES Jumeirah (Diamant De Semilly x Ard VDL Douglas) notched up his fifth consecutive win on this tour with two seconds in hand.

Nicole Pavitt hit the top spot 24 hours later in the 3* 1.45m aboard Matthew Pike’s Goldstar. Twelve from the original field of 43 posted initial clears to return for the jump-off, the speedy Nicole outpacing all rivals.  Guiding the 13-year-old Otangelo x Waitaki stallion into a calculating, tactical round and executing the turns at a measured, even gallop, Nicole secured the win by 0.36 seconds.   

 

Tabitha Kyle is back with a bang on the Andalucia Tour in Spain to score her first four-star win

Tabitha Kyle’s 2023 season was cut short following a hit and run car accident in The Netherlands, sustaining a neck fracture and subsequently missing out on HOYS and London International in her final pony year. But she has made her comeback a memorable one as she registered her first four-star win on the Andalucia Tour in Vejer de la Frontera, Spain, with TJ Hall’s Desterly in the Six-Bar.

Thirteen riders came forward to face the precision test over six verticals, each two strides apart. Only two were left in round four, the combination now reduced to four elements with the final fence standing at a lofty 1.85m. 

Tabitha went head-to-head with Ireland’s Alexander Butler, but his ride Pico came home on four faults.  Cool-headed Tabitha and the 16-year-old Tolan R daughter proved foot-perfect, the delighted 16-year-old rider dropping the reins on the unfazed Desterly and punctuating her win with a double-handed punch in the air to celebrate.    

Matt Sampson finished off week three on this tour with a win aboard Curraghraigue Obos Flight. A total of 62 competitors tackled the 4* 1.45m speed class but Matt had the measure of course-designer Marcos Nunez’s 11-fence track.  Arrowing Rachel Evison’s Obos Quality x Errigal Flight 12-year-old around the track with his usual gusto, Matt galloped into the top spot by 0.60 seconds. 

Ellen Whitaker notched up a win in Thursday’s Medium Tour 1.45m speed on Demi Louvo, the 11-year-old Vigo Cece daughter outpacing their 59 rivals to win by 0.55 seconds. Ellen also picked up fourth on second ride Conshira Blue PS.

Laura Mantel was also in winning form, heading the Five-year-old Final in a 15-strong decider on Lucky Madam (Del Arko D’Henvet x Carry) with a 1.04 second advantage over Stephen Lohoar’s Odyssey LSH.

 

Harry Charles and Lily Attwood score in Spain

Harry Charles was in the money on the Spring MET Tour II at Oliva Nova, Spain, with a win and a Grand Prix place.

The win for Harry came in Sunday’s Gold 1.45m two-phase with Peter Charles and Stall Zet’s nine-year-old stallion Bandit, the pair bowling along to score a 0.27 second advantage.

Harry was also on the podium in the feature 3* 1.50m Grand Prix with Balou Du Reventon. Only eight of the original 52 starters found the key to Swiss course-designer Gerard Lachat’s 13-fence track. Harry and Ann Thompson’s Cornet Obolensky x Continue 18-year-old posted another clear round to finish third 0.91 seconds behind the winner, Belgium’s Jerome Guery on Careca LS Elite. Fellow Brit Joe Clayton also returned a double clear for fourth aboard Commissaire S.    

Lily Attwood claimed victory in Friday’s world ranking Gold 1.45m with Karibou Horta.  A big entry of 85 contended this speed test but Lily outpaced them all, trusting her 14-year-old long-term partner ’Horton’ (Landor S x For Pleasure) to gallop into the top spot with 1.32 seconds to spare.

 

British riders qualify for the Longines FEI World Cup Final 2024

Four British riders have qualified for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final 2024 to be held in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia on 16 – 20 April, at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Following the conclusion of the 14th leg of the 2023/2024 series, the top 18 from the Western European League take a qualification place in the final. 

The four British representatives are:

Harry Charles, winner in A Caruna, Spain, stands in second place on the final league table on 73 points, 13 points behind the leader, Sweden Henrik von Eckermann.

Reigning Olympic champion and winner of the London International World Cup leg, Ben Maher is in fourth place only one point behind Harry.

Robert Whitaker picked up points at four of the 14 legs and sits in 17th place on 34 points.

Scott Brash is only one point behind Robert on 33 to take 18th place.

 

Image: Ben Maher and Dallas Vegas Batilly. Credit: Sportfot/WEF

 
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