A capacity Saturday night crowd at HOYS raised the roof for young rider Ben Maher, who cleared 7ft 3in to win the Aon Puissance on Eperlan De Fouquet.
Ben, who lives on the Hertfordshire/Essex borders, was a member of this year’s winning European young riders team, but the young man, who is trained by Steven Smith, was overwhelmed by his reception.
He had to work hard to beat two real specialists in Keith Shore on Anderson’s Free Spirit and the pre-class favourites, John Whitaker and Exploit De Roulard.
Eperlan De Fouquet, the former ride of Angelena Moore, was previously considered a Derby specialist, but Ben, who is currently putting together a good string of horses, is now hoping that the big French-bred bay will step up to grand prix level.
Nick Skelton earlier delighted the crowd with a fantastic round on Arko to win the accumulator from final draw. Keith Shore was leading after a great performance on Pakko, but Nick made use of the Hales’s stallion’s incredible scope to pull off two turns that no one else attempted and win by a good margin.
“I think that’s the first time Arko’s ever jumped a class like that because I’ve concentrated on producing him for the Olympics in the past. It’s now time for him to win some prize-money,” said Nick.