Brits put up a valiant fight at Royal Windsor but have to settle for second place at Royal Windsor

Saturday 04 May 2024

Brits put up a valiant fight at Royal Windsor but have to settle for second place at Royal Windsor

It was a day of second places for the British riders on the opening day of the CSI5* classes at Royal Windsor Horse Show with Ben Maher and Matt Sampson in the runner-up positions.

“We really enjoy Windsor and always try to be competitive,” said Ben, who selected Jane Forbes Clark’s Ginger-Blue to contend The Defender Stakes. 

Alongside 30 other competitors, Ben faced Portugal’s celebrated course-designer Bernardo Costa Cabral’s 1.55m 12-fence track.  They were tested with two doubles and technical dog-leg lines, but 14 riders answered all the questions to qualify for the jump-off.

The battle for the top two places was between World Number 2 Ben and World Number 3 Steve Guerdat, but the Swiss rider claimed the advantage, surging ahead on the 10-year-old Looping Luna to demand victory.

Ben eased the 13-year-old mare Ginger-Blue (Plot Blue x Royal Bravour) into second place 0.92 seconds in arrears.  John Whitaker on Arqana De Riverland and his son Robert with Vermento opted for steadier clears for sixth and seventh places. 

“She’s been on great form and is an experienced horse now, my owner Jane is here watching, and we were really trying. I did everything I could, but the length of stride hindered me and Steve was quicker,” said Ben.

Matt Sampson came oh so close to a win in the opening 5* Pearl Stakes at Royal Windsor Horse Show and had to settle for second place by a tiny margin.

Thirty-one riders came forward to contest the 1.45m two-phase competition over the 13-fence track and, despite the heavy showers during the class, it was competitive from the off.  Matt, second last year in the same class, was fervently hoping to go one better this time. He claimed an early lead with Isabel Fox’s Sligo Candy Boy x Cruising 11-year-old MGH Candy Girl.

“Candy is very fast so I used her natural stride and, although we didn’t win, I was still very pleased with her performance,” said Matt.

But their lead was short-lived, British-based Irishman Shane Breen immediately put in a strong round and just pipped them. Speedy Shane was gunning for the win, taking out strides down every distance with the equally committed 10-year-old Cato Boy (Commissario x Bockmann’s Lord Pezi) to clip just 0.03 seconds off the time. 

“Shane has a big horse and down a couple of distances, he took two strides less than I did, I just got beaten on stride,” added Matt.

Olli Fletcher slipped BP Pocahontas into fourth behind Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca in third aboard Cash Du Plessis. 

Royal Windsor Horse Show – Friday, 3 May 2023
The Defender Stakes

1st Steve Guerdat (SUI) & Looping Luna – 0/0 - 35.67 seconds
2nd Ben Maher (GBR) & Ginger-Blue – 0/0 - 36.59 seconds
3rd Guilia Martinengo Marquet & Delta Del’Isle – 0/0 - 37.85 seconds

The Pearl Stakes

1st Shane Breen (IRE) & Cato Boy – 0/ 25.77 seconds
2nd Matt Sampson (GBR) & MGH Candy Girl – 0/0 25.80 seconds
3rd Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) Cash Du Plessis – 0/0 27.10 seconds

Image: Peter Nixon /  Royal Windsor Horse Show

 
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