‘His welfare is paramount’: Ben Maher and Explosion W withdrawn from Olympic team final

  • Individual gold medallists Ben Maher and Explosion W will not feature in the Olympic team showjumping final at the Tokyo Games, to save the horse for another day, as Britain is not in medal contention.

    With every score counting under the new three-combination format, Britain was in ninth place in the Olympic showjumping after the first two riders, on 24 faults, so the “collective decision” was taken not to put the combination forward.

    Ben said the team’s campaign had started well yesterday (6 August) in qualifying for today’s Olympic team showjumping final.

    “The guys did a good job yesterday; they gave me a margin that didn’t put Explosion under too much pressure,” he said. “I could afford to have a mistake and we got in comfortably, but today was always going to be a different day.

    “We knew it was going to be tough, that it was a big course and a lot of very good horse-rider combinations were making mistakes. Holly and Harry are young riders, they’ve ridden incredibly tonight but unfortunately it hasn’t gone our way as a team.”

    Ben said Explosion W’s welfare is paramount.

    “I’m not a quitter on the team, I always push to the end, but we’re an extremely long way off of any metal contention and he’s done everything for Team GB, and me as a rider, this week and the welfare of him [is the] priority,” he said.

    Asked if the fact Explosion W had won individual gold had made the decision easier, Ben said no.

    “It doesn’t make any difference,” he said. “Yes, he goes back as an Olympic champion; I always knew he was an incredible horse, but this decision is based purely on the team as a whole. We had a discussion as a team and any horse’s welfare becomes a priority. This way, he goes home one round less and is saved hopefully for another day when we are in medal contention.”

    Team leader Dickie Waygood added: “Holly and Harry rode with great skill ,but this is the pinnacle of Olympic competition and with 24 faults, Team GB will not be in the mix for a podium place.

    “Ben and Explosion W have shown their world-class calibre in winning individual gold and we have collectively decided it’s in the best interests to save Explosion W for another day.”

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