A remarkable battle took place between Ben Maher, riding his grey mare Cella, and Egypt’s Karim El Zoghby (Amelia) in the CSI5* class during the eigth leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour (GCT) in Paris at the weekend (5 July).
It resulted in both riding identically timed clears in the jump-off to claim joint honours in the Prix de la Ville de Paris in front of the iconic setting of the Eiffel Tower — an unusual feat at this level of competition.
Edwina Tops-Alexander and Heidi du Ruisseau Z were the only other combination to go through into the jump-off alongside Karim and Ben.
“Luckily I had my best mare today, which made life a little easier,” said Ben. “I don’t think it would have mattered if there had been three or 15 horses in the jump-off, as it was an incredibly fast round and I don’t think we could have done any more today.
“It’s a first for me to have a joint podium, and certainly a first that I’ve seen in that level for a long time — maybe in a smaller competition, but to be joint around such a big course is unbelievable,” he added.
Young Irishman Bertram Allen became the youngest rider to win a GCT grand prix.
The 19-year-old stormed to victory with an unbeatable time of 37.32 seconds in the 1.60m €320,000 prize-money competition riding the 17-year-old chestnut stallion Romanov. It was also Bertram’s first GCT triumph.
Third to go in the final round, Bertram produced phenomenal pace and agility, taking a wider angle towards the vertical on the penultimate line maintaining his winning speed.
“This is an amazing feeling, my first ever time on a GCT podium. I have to pay tribute to my horse, who tried so hard over three tough rounds, and gave me the win,” said Bertram, who beat GCT leading rider Luciana Diniz into second.
Fellow Irish rider Darragh Kenny ensured the Emerald Isle stayed in the prize money by taking third with Sans Soucis Z.