‘This is a nice boost’: Spectacular double for Ben Maher *H&H Plus*

  • Find out all the latest news from this week’s international showjumping action from Valkenswaard, Saint-Tropez, Montefalco and Fontainebleau

    Tops International Arena, Valkenswaard, the Netherlands

    BEN MAHER and Ginger-Blue (pictured) stole the limelight in the year’s opening event at Tops International Arena, Valkenswaard, the Netherlands, winning the CSI4* grand prix in assured style.

    The Hertfordshire rider seized the advantage in an 11-strong jump-off, crossing the finish with Jane Clark’s 10-year-old KWPN mare in 40.42sec to beat long-time Swiss leader Bryan Balsiger (AK’s Courage) by 0.08sec. Dutchman Maikel van der Vleuten’s mare Beauville Z made a welcome return to the sport with a third-place finish, with Cian O’Connor fourth for Ireland on Kilkenny. Less than half a second separated the top four combinations in a nail-biting finale.

    “It was quite a big and rather tricky course with difficult distances,” said the British Olympic gold medallist. “I often had to make an extra stride. Ginger-Blue gave me a very good feeling in the first round and that gave me confidence for the jump-off. I did what I could and Ginger-Blue is by nature a very fast horse. This is a nice boost.”

    Ben had plenty more to celebrate when winning the young horse final with the hugely exciting Point Break. Dutch rider Willem Greve set a formidable target with Pretty Woman Van’t Paradijs, but seven-year-old Point Break (Action-Breaker x Balou Du Rouet), owned by Charlotte Rossetter and Pamela Wright, outclassed his opposition for the second time in as many days.

    “He is really growing here in this arena, I think he has a lot of potential,” said Ben.

    Hubside Spring Tour, Saint-Tropez, France

    WORLD number one Steve Guerdat won his first five-star grand prix since the birth of his daughter five weeks ago. The Swiss rider triumphed at the Hubside Spring Tour in Saint-Tropez riding a “fresh” 12-year-old gelding Venard De Cerisy, “who gave it his all”.

    “It obviously means a lot,” said Steve.

    Montefalco, Italy

    FOLLOWING his results at Chard, Shane Breen rode the brilliant 13-year-old Z7 Ipswich to victory in the CSI4* grand prix in Montefalco, Italy, in a competitive five-way jump-off. The pair produced a double clear nearly two seconds faster than their nearest rivals to claim the top prize.

    Best of the Brits was John Whitaker with Unick Du Francport, who finished seventh with a first-round time-fault, but the Yorkshireman won earlier in the week with the nine-year-old Luidam son, Green Grass.

    Laura Renwick took Thursday’s speed class on Galerius then followed up with victory on Friday with the ever-consistent Dublin V, while Dermott Lennon flew the Irish flag in a two-phase with MJM Pursuit.

    Fontainebleau CSI*, France

    NICOLA WILSON’S prolific speed horse Naomi 55 surpassed even her own great track record when she won every class she entered at Fontainebleau CSI*.

    The 15hh, 14-year-old headed three 1.25m–1.30m table As.

    “The French go so fast and while I know she is quick and can beat them, I never expected to be that lucky to get three in a row. She does love the French atmosphere – they have loud music, everyone gets really involved and it gets her blood up,” said Nicola, who bought the mare as a four-year-old off an old primary school friend.

    You can also read this report in the 13 May issue of Horse & Hound magazine.

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