Ben Maher celebrated his recent 30th birthday with victory in the $100,000 Fidelity Investments grand prix on Cella in Palm Beach, Florida, on Saturday night (2 February).
The Hertfordshire rider and Jane Clark’s 11-year-old Cento/Chin Chin mare won by over 2sec, with fellow Brit Gemma Paternoster third on her great 17-year-old Osiris.
“Since I knew I was starting to ride Jane [Clark]‘s horses in October, I have been coming [to Florida] every two to three weeks for a couple of days,” said Ben. “It was long journeys in between European shows, but it looks like it paid off.
“We spent a long time getting the horses fit and ready for the circuit and I watched videos from previous rounds of the horses. I felt that Cella was jumping very well and the small pointers we had from George [Morris, US trainer] yesterday made a big difference with my style of riding. It has taken her a while to adapt to me, I think as much as I had to adapt to her.”
The other big British win in week four of the Winter Equestrian Festival came courtesy of Nick Skelton and Heracross in the 24-starter $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m speed class,
“He is a nice, easy horse,” said Nick of the Irish-bred 13-year-old. “There were a lot of turns in that course, so I didn’t have to gallop too fast because he is such a quick turner.”
Read the full report in this week’s Horse & Hound, out 7 February
Photo by Sportfot