The return of Explosion W: Ben Maher reveals plans for his Olympic hero

  • Global superstar Explosion W has been hugely missed on the showjumping circuit over the latter half of this year, but the much-loved gelding is set to make a very welcome return in the new year, said his rider Ben Maher.

    The 13-year-old “natural born winner”, who with Ben won the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo last year, was last seen in the ring at Aachen in July, where they finished 10th in the Rolex grand prix. Shortly afterwards, Explosion was ruled out of the World Showjumping Championships in Herning, Denmark, with Ben opting to ride Faltic HB instead, and the pair won team bronze and finished fourth in the individual final.

    “Explosion jumped in Aachen and he was good there, but I felt that physically he wasn’t quite what he can be, as opposed to it actually being anything directly health-related,” said Ben of the Chacco-Blue x Baloubet Du Rouet gelding owned by Pamela Wright and Charlotte Rossetter.

    “So we decided to take a step back with him and it turned out he had some bruising, so we’ve just wanted to give him time.

    “It’s been tough planning this year because I’ve had to adjust my plans a lot, especially with the Worlds where I changed my mind last-minute. That was more of a horsemanship decision – I could have taken Explosion but that puts added stress and pressure at the last minute and we [riding Faltic] nearly came through – we qualified for the Olympics though, which was the priority. So it has been a very good year in some senses but I feel as if I’ve been on the treadmill quite a lot, too!”

    Ben Maher: ‘Explosion W is very fit’

    Ben said that Explosion is now back in full work and “looking good” ahead of a potential February date for his comeback.

    “We held off from jumping a bit longer because I decided not to start him up at Geneva and London,” said Ben. “So he’s had a bit of extra time, but he’s on a flight to Florida, where we’ll build him up and aim him at select things next year.”

    Despite not having his top horse through much of 2022, the Hertfordshire-based rider has spent the time building up his string and he is now being richly rewarded.

    “I guess looking back, it’s been a difficult year in some senses – there’s been a lot of change for me at home and Explosion did less than expected, but for the right reasons and I’m hoping it’ll pay off now as he’s very fit and looking good, so I’m excited,” said Ben.

    “He’s got quite a big team of horses around him now and I’ve had a great year with Faltic – he’s been a bit of a one-man band and he did an incredible job.”

    “But I’m really fortunate with the team of horses I have now,” added Ben, who has added several new horses to his string in recent months, including the impressive mare Dallas Vegas Batilly. “I just need to gel with them more and then hopefully the results will start coming. I’m scratching away and not quite winning anything at the moment! But I’m old and experienced now and I’ve been in this position before – if I’m patient, things will start to click in.

    “So I’ve used this time, and although it’s been a bit harder work without Explosion, we’re fortunate that with my backing we’ve been able to work harder on the team around him. I think that 2023 should be a very exciting year.”

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