Ben Maher not punished for HOYS fall

  • Ben Maher has not received an official warning following his horse fall at Horse of the Year Show — despite widespread criticism from fans.

    The rider was berated online after video footage of his ride, Wings Sublieme, falling over with him after he stopped in the Horse Radar Stakes at the show went viral earlier this week.

    “Watched the international showjumping today and still shocked at Ben Maher’s reaction to his horse refusing a fence,” wrote one angry forum user.

    “It was disappointing to see,” said another. “He ought to be ashamed of himself,” added one more.

    However, other fans have stood by Ben.

    “For people who know and have competed with Ben, he is one of the most respected sportsmen in the industry both in and out of the arena,” said one supporter. “Accidents happen in sport, especially when there is an equine brain also involved with a human one. “

    The FEI originally told H&H that because “correct procedure” had not been followed an official warning was not recorded.

    “The foreign judge and the president of the ground jury summoned the rider to an official meeting to address the issue,” said FEI secretary general Ingmar de Vos.

    “After further investigation, the FEI has discovered that the correct procedures were not followed as Mr Maher was not specifically informed that it was an official warning and that it would be officially recorded. From a legal perspective it cannot therefore be considered as an official warning or reprimand.”

    However, yesterday (Thursday) the FEI updated its standpoint and said: “The FEI secretary general has clearly established that no reprimand, no warning nor any other sanction has been imposed on Ben Maher.”

    When H&H questioned again whether the procedure had influenced the decision an FEI spokesman said: “No sanction has been imposed and consequently the question about the procedure is not relevant.  The president of the ground jury and the foreign judge met the athlete and accepted his explanation.

    Ben has defended his position throughout the debate.

    “The incident with my horse at HOYS last week was most unfortunate,” he said.

    “However the allegations that my actions were reprehensible and indeed reprimanded are quite without foundation and by the FEI’s enquiry, they have been vindicated.

    “The welfare of my horses is always paramount and I wish to make it clear that I have the fullest respect for my horses and their owners, the governing bodies of the sport and the ground jury members at HOYS.

    “The FEI has issued a statement clarifying its position for which I am grateful and as always, I wish to thank all those who run the sport, my sponsors and owners for their support.”

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