Michael Whitaker: Payday for Ben Maher *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    The outdoor season reached its conclusion last week and hats off to Ben Maher, he’s had a fantastic year. He had already been crowned champion of the Global Champions Tour (GCT) ahead of last week’s final in Doha, but the way he’s riding at the moment you fully expected him to win the last grand prix, too — which he did in style. He is enjoying one of those runs when as a rider you’re full of confidence and it feels as if you can win anything. Explosion W is an exceptional horse, too.

    The horses I jumped in Doha, Valmy De La Lande and new ride Strides Hilanasterne, are part of an exciting string of horses I have now. The GCT is full-on: it’s nearly impossible to do all 16 legs. You need a stable full of good horses with which to do it, but I’ve been missing a couple of top ones this year.

    This was my second time competing in the Global Champions League and this year I joined the Doha Fursan Qatar team alongside Bassem Hassan Mohammed and Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani. They’re friendly guys and their ambitions towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are really exciting. It all made for a great team atmosphere.

    The final stop on the tour is the new show, the Prague Playoffs in December. The sums of money involved are unbelievable and I’m sure it will be another massive payday for Ben Maher. Whatever happens, it’s sure to be an exciting addition to the jumping calendar.

    Sad news

    I was saddened to hear the news about Tim Stockdale last week. I’ve known him since he first started showjumping — he didn’t always have the easiest horses but he always made the best of what he had, forging what turned out to be a fantastic career. He will be much missed.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 22 November 2018