Ben Maher claimed the biggest individual prize so far this week at the Olympia Horse Show taking £14,500 in the winner takes all Renault Christmas masters with Wonderboy III.
“At this show, I have three targets: the World Cup qualifier, the grand prix and this class,” said Ben. “Wonderboy is a big jumper so height isn’t a problem for him.”
Only the seven riders at the top of the show’s leading rider table are eligible to jump in the masters. Each time a rider enters the ring, they nominate a fence to be raised, and each time the six-effort course is jumped, another £500 is added to the prize pot.
A fence down takes riders out of the competition.
After four rounds, four riders remained to go forward to a timed jump-off. Ben was the only one to jump clear again to take the spoils.
“I’m pushing him at grands prix and World Cup qualifiers now,” said Ben. “If I do qualify for the World Cup final, I’ll take him. Robin Hood will be aimed at Global Champions Shows and the World Equestrian Games next year.”
Listen to interview with Ben Maher
Guy Williams’ new ride Dukhan secured a world rankings class win in the H&M Santa stakes. Guy, who has had the horse for six weeks, was the only Brit in the seven-horse jump-off and this eight-year-old gelding knocked two seconds of his closest rival’s time.
Listen to interview with Guy Williams
Robert Smith completed a straight run of British wins by heading the Christmas tree stakes with Raging Bull Vangelis S.
The young riders final resulted in a fast jump-off, which thoroughly entertained the packed Grand Hall. Carian Scudamore went flat out to the last fence to take the lead in the jump-off, before Joe Clayton (Saveur) made up time on her early on the course using his horse’s ability to turn sharply. However, Matthew Sampson had spotted somewhere else to make up time.
He produced a very tight turn back to the penultimate fence and then used Rush On M’s big stride to head the class.
“When you watch the top international riders winning here, and see how the crowd loves it so much it makes you want to win here so desperately,” said Matthew. “It’s the best show in the world.”
Stay up to date with all the news from Olympia Horse Show on Horseandhound.co.uk and don’t miss H&H’s special report from the show, on sale Thursday 24 December