As second last to go in the jump-off, Great Britain’s Ben Maher secured the win in Sunday’s CSI2* Grand Prix presented by Oliva Nova Beach & Golf Resort at the first week of the Autumn MET 2018.
The Mediterranean Equestrian Tour’s 2018 autumn edition got underway this week, with the €30.000 Grand Prix counting for the Longines Ranking as the highlight. With some of the world’s very best riders on the start list – such as Scott Brash (GBR), Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) and of course the winner himself – many met up to watch top sport in glorious sunny weather in Oliva Nova today.
A total of eight horse-and-rider combinations managed to produce clears over the first round 1.45m track set by Great Britain’s Mark Mcgowan. The time allowed turned out to be a big challenge, and no less than nine of the 50 pairs in the Grand Prix fell victim to the clock – keeping them out of the jump-off.
“I thought the course designer did an excellent job today. He had a tight time allowed but got a perfect result in the end with eight clear rounds. I thought it was a fun class to finish the first week of the Tour here,” Ben Maher said after the Grand Prix.
First to return for the jump-off, Spain’s own Ismael Garcia Roque produced another clear round on the 8-year-old mare Astoria JO (Kannan x Quidam de Revel) in 44.02 seconds – which eventually would put him in fifth place.
One rider later, Roque was overtaken by Germany’s Alexander Schill on Cruising 11 (Crawford 5 x Calato) – who crossed the finish line in 43.22 seconds. Schill’s lead did not last for long though as France’s Marie Hecart shaved the time down to 42.01 seconds after a blistering fast round on Vahinee (Lauterbach x Darco). Ireland’s Niall Talbot also gave it a good go, but had to see himself pushing in between Schill and Roque with a time of 43.72 seconds.
Coming in as second last to go, Maher produced a world class jump-off piloting the 8-year-old Cirus du Ruisseau Z (Chellano Z x Carthago Z) to a clear in 41.42 seconds – which would prove to be the winning round of the Grand Prix.
“To be honest I did not see too much of the jump-off because I chose to warm up in the ring a bit further away from the main arena and from there I could not watch. I kept track of the times though, and luckily I could have a look at the rider before me,” Maher explained. “Cirus is relatively inexperienced at this level, although he has already won one two-star Grand Prix earlier this summer. He is a naturally fast horse though, and I thought if I just would keep the turns tight that would hopefully be enough – and luckily it was. I’m very happy,” Maher said.
About his winning partner Cirus du Ruisseau Z, Maher said. “He is a lovely horse, and he has a great attitude – which is possibly the best thing about him. I still have to help him a bit out with certain things but what I like about him is that he is a real trier, and he is very brave.”
Topping the Longines Global Champions Tour overall this year after winning no less than three LGCT Grand Prix competitions in Madrid, Saint Tropez and Rome, Maher has had a fantastic season and is now in Oliva with some of Poden Farms’ younger horses together with Emily Moffitt. Joining Maher in the jump-off today, Moffitt finished 6th – making it a great day for the Poden Farms-team. “Emily has taken over Don Vito from me, and I’m very happy to see them clicking now – sometimes that can take a bit time. Overall it has been a great week for our team!” Maher said.
“We are here in Oliva with our next generation of horses. We are very lucky, we have some really nice 8-year-olds from Poden Farms coming up and hopefully they will be for the big sport in the future,” Maher closed off.