‘What an amazing feeling’: Ben Maher and Explosion W win the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final – despite a ‘plan B’ turn

  • Continuing his truly memorable year, British showjumper Ben Maher and the extraordinarily talented gelding Explosion W won the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final at the CHI Geneva on Friday (10 December).

    “I’m so happy, Explosion’s been incredible the whole year, again,” he said. “The owners are here today, my wife, everybody and there’s not been many times this year that everybody could come and watch.

    “What an amazing feeling to win this class.”

    The world’s top 10 riders are invited to compete in this annual contest held over two rounds and just four combinations jumped clear in round one – Daniel Deusser (Killer Queen VDM), Henrik von Eckermann with King Edward and Jerome Guery riding Quel Homme De Hus, joining Ben on a zero score.

    The clever tracks set by Gérard Lachat and Louis Konickx piled on even more pressure in round two and some of the greatest names in the sport saw their faults add up.

    However, Sweden’s Olympic team gold medallist and recent Super Grand Prix winner Henrik von Eckermann shot to the top of the leaderboard with a typically assured round with King Edward before Daniel Deusser’s Killer Queen VDM surprisingly refused at the second fence.

    The reigning Olympic champion Ben and his superstar 12-year-old gelding were the penultimate combination and flashed home in breathtaking style to take the lead by nearly two seconds.

    “He’s incredible. I was a bit nervous about one of the turns so I went round and it didn’t suit me,” Ben said. “Everywhere I had to go as fast as I could – Henrik put me under a lot of pressure. This class hasn’t been so lucky for me in the past, but it’s better now!”

    There was still a chance that last-drawn Jérôme Guery could cause an upset, but the powerful 15-year-old Quidam De Revel stallion simply doesn’t have the same gears as Explosion W and when they got their striding all wrong to the wall which crashed to the floor, the Maher team could celebrate in style.

    “My team plays a huge part,” he said. “Without my owners I wouldn’t be able to be riding Explosion W over the past few years. My groom Cormac Kenny has been with me since he was 16 years old, so he’s grown up together with me, and it’s very special for me to see him take big moments like this, and it wouldn’t be possible without him.”

    Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix closed the show with an epic home victory for Martin Fuchs, his second win in a row in Geneva. He now takes over the mantle as the live contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping from Aachen victor Daniel Deusser.

    Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei win the Rolex Grand Prix in Geneva for the Rolex Grand Slam

    Martin’s first win in 2019 came with Clooney 51 but he teamed up with another grey, his 2021 European silver medallist Leone Jei (pictured above), to come out on top after a six-way jump-off.

    “I am of course overjoyed, not only because I have won this tournament, which I love so much, for the second time, but also because I am a contender for the Rolex Grand Slam again,” he said. “And this with this great Leone Jei, who is only nine years old and always amazes me.”

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