Ben Maher and the chestnut mare Diva II soared to victory in the $372,000 FEI World Cup grand prix in Wellington, Florida last night (Saturday, 7 March).
In a thrilling three-rider jump-off, last-drawn Ben and the British-bred 10-year-old relegated Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Fibonacci 17) into second with the only other double clear. Finishing third was Laura Kraut of USA on the 17-year-old Cedric with one down against the clock.
“That jump-off probably was not my best ever round. Diva is hairy in the way she goes,” said Ben, who is currently based in Florida for the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival circuit at the Palm Beach Equestrian Center.
“She is not so conventional always, but I did not have a lot to lose. Tonight I knew I would be top three, so I figured that I would have a go and with a little bit of luck here and there, it paid off.”
Diva II was bred by Liz Edgar and was bought for Ben to ride by Tatiana Korsakova. The pair won the grand prix at Olympia in December.
“This is the first horse that they have owned a horse at this level and hopefully this will bring new partnerships into the sport and something good for the future,” said Ben.
Paying tribute to the strength of opposition he faced in the jump-off, Ben added: ”Cedric is one of the best horses in the world for a long time and Meredith’s horse is probably right there coming into its prime. Diva could not have been in better company.”
Results of the $372,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix presented by Douglas Elliman Real Estate
- Ben Maher & Diva II (GBR)
- Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum & Fibonacci 17 (GER)
- Laura Kraut & Cedric (USA)
- Roberto Teran & Woklahoma (COL)
- Lauren Hough & Ohlala (USA)
- Margie Engle & Royce (USA)
Don’t miss the full report from the World Cup qualifier and the rest of the weekend’s international action in next week’s Horse & Hound (out Thursday, 12 March).