Ben Maher reunited with 19-year-old Olympic stallion to take superb grand prix win

  • Ben Maher was reunited with his Rio Olympic ride Tic Tac to take the $140,000 (£104,000) Hygain Feeds three-star grand prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival for a second year running.

    The Olympic champion and Jane Forbes Clark’s 19-year-old Panama Du Seigneur x Darco stallion, who lives permanently in Wellington, Florida, triumphed in a 13-combination jump-off by three tenths of a second over Ireland’s Paul O’Shea on Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu. It was similar to the combination’s win in the same class last year, which was by a hundredth of a second over Eric Lamaze and his Rio bronze medal-winning ride Fine Lady V.

    “Clearly, he loves the grass field, as he was amazing here last year for me as well,” said Ben.

    “We are very selective when we show him now because of his age, but he is an amazing horse and I give a lot of credit to the people who look after him day in and day out to keep him in such top shape.”

    The pair had been apart for four months until a week ago, when Ben flew out to the US for a few months, to compete at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center and Equestrian Village, where this grand prix was staged in the derby ring.

    “We just emphasise keeping him fit and happy and knowing how to pick the right moments for him,” said Ben.

    “I am very fortunate he has all the experience he does and allowed me to really ride him today, because you have to take a lot of chances to be ahead of Amy [Millar] and Paul [O’Shea].”

    Canada’s Amy Millar finished in third place on Truman, just over a tenth of a second behind Paul, meaning less than half a second separated the top three combinations.

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