In the final showdown of Olympia, Ben Maher and the nine-year-old mare Diva II gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about, soaring home to victory in the grand prix.
“It’s been an unbelievable week,” said Ben, also crowned the show’s leading rider. “I’ve brought a young team of horses and they’ve all done so well.”
In a five-rider jump-off – with no less than three British riders in the mix – the former world number one and the flashy up-and-coming British-bred daughter of Kannan scored the winning time from mid-draw. Her relative inexperience told only when it came to the prize-giving – she spooked dramatically at the trophy and Ben was forced to drop the silverware.
“She needs to get used to winning – she’s not used to trophies yet!” said Ben, who also collected a cheque for 21,250euro. “She’ll have a rest now before she goes to Florida next week – and hopefully I’ll have a couple of days off too.”
Finishing second after a good week in London was Dutchman Maikel van der Vleuten with VDL Groep Arera C and third went to Kevin Staut on Ayade De Septon Et HDC.
The remaining British contingent finished fourth and fifth. Scott Brash and new ride Hello Guv’nor produced an immaculate first round clear but ground to a halt after an ambitious turn against the clock. John Whitaker retired the 12-year-old Arko III stallion Argento after trouble at the double.
The class brought a fantastic edition of the London International Horse Show to a fitting inclusion.
Don’t miss the bumper Olympia issue of Horse & Hound, out on New Year’s Eve, in which you can read about all the showjumping, see who won in the showing championships and which team triumphed in the Quadrille – plus all the behind-the-scenes stories!