Ben Maher brings out Olympic hero Explosion W in bid for LGCT championship hat-trick

  • The newly crowned Olympic champion Ben Maher is set to contest this weekend’s Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) end-of-season decider with his Tokyo hero Explosion W.

    The pair have only been seen in action once since that momentous gold medal-winning performance in Tokyo in August, when they jumped in the Rolex grand prix at Aachen last month.

    But Ben and his mighty 12-year-old gelding are back in the ring at Šamorín, Slovakia, this week (21-23 October) in a bid to top the LGCT rankings for a third consecutive year and to be crowned LGCT champion of champions.

    However he will be locking horns with the current LGCT leader and Olympic team gold medallist Peder Fredricson of Sweden. Like Ben, Peder is bringing out his Olympic partner H&M All In and, with 21 points separating the two, results from Saturday’s grand prix will be absolutely crucial in deciding who will earn the LGCT crown this year.

    So how will the 2021 LGCT champion of champions be decided at the X-Bionic Sphere on Saturday?

    • If Peder Fredricson is placed 10th or higher in Saturday night’s LGCT grand prix of Slovakia, he will secure his first LGCT championship title.
    • Ben Maher has to win the grand prix with Peder finishing 11th or lower to claim his third consecutive championship.

    Both riders have two LGCT grand prix wins to their name this year but Peder, who landed that sensational victory over John Whitaker in London, has scored consistently higher at more events over the course of the season.

    There will be a raft of other top combinations bidding for victory in the big-money class and the following will all be fighting for a top-five finish in the championship battle:

    • Harrie Smolders
    • Christian Ahlmann
    • Max Kuhner
    • Spencer Smith
    • Bart Bles
    • Denis Lynch

    Olivier Robert of France, who became an internet sensation after last week’s remarkable recovery in the GCL class, comes into the finale in second position in the overall rankings and Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander currently holds 223 points, but as they have both filled their quota of eight grand prix scores counting towards their final tally, neither are able to leapfrog Ben or Peder for top honours.

    Other riders in action during the final leg of the LGCT this week include Great Britain’s Sameh El Dahan, Jodie Hall McAteer, Emily Moffitt and Scott Brash, while the in-form Darragh Kenny lines up for Ireland. Marcus Ehning, Henrik von Eckermann, Maikel van der Vleuten, Malin Baryard-Johnsson and Daniel Deusser are some of the other big names to look out for.

    Ben and Explosion W will make their first appearance in Thursday night’s 1.45m two-phase, which kicks off at 5.40pm British Summer Time.

    Saturday’s grand prix begins at 7pm UK time.

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