‘He was perfect today’: early clear round lifts British hopes at showjumping Europeans

  • Hopes were lifted after Ben Maher and Faltic HB posted the first clear of the tournament for Great Britain on day two of the European Showjumping Championships at the San Siro racecourse in Milan, Italy (30 August-3 September).

    “I’m very happy. Faltic was perfect today,” said Hertfordshire-based Ben, the reigning Olympic champion and British team stalwart for the past 20 years. “He felt really very good in the warm up arena and I’m going much earlier today, I was first to go, which is my normal team position.“

    Ben continued: “I don’t know if I’m more comfortable there – years ago I rode last and then when Nick Skelton retired, I switched to first, so there was a reason for me going towards the end yesterday and it was always the plan to switch to earlier today,” explained Ben, whose Faltic HB is now owned by Pamela Wright and Charlotte Rossetter, having come from the Oakingham Stud.

    “Faltic felt very relaxed today. As soon as I jumped the first three jumps. I had very good feeling and it was down to me just to execute the plan. Today’s sort of about proper riding, so to speak, whereas yesterday is always tough to start a championship. In the past, I’ve had an advantage where Cella and Explosion were unbelievably fast horses naturally, so I didn’t have to push to be in a good position after day one. Not all horses are like that. So it’s hard to gauge how much to push [on the first day], but from now on it comes down to just leaving the jumps up.”

    Great Britain came into today’s competition in 10th position, after a disappointing opening round at the European Showjumping Championships.

    “Yesterday wasn’t the best day, but we have some newer combinations here on the team and as a country, we have to broaden our team a bit and we’re already qualified for the Paris Olympics,” explained Ben, who recovered from a serious shoulder injury at the start of the year. “It doesn’t mean we can’t be good this week, but there’s also a bigger picture.”

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