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Friday, October 24, 2014


BEN MAHER IS FIRST OFF THE STARTING BLOCKS

Thursday 15 December 2011

Ben Maher, a rider who always seems inspired by the uniquely festive atmosphere at Olympia, The London International Horse Show, set an unbeatable target in the Christmas Speed Stakes. Riding Peter Ward’s Milena, a 14-year-old bay mare previously ridden by Dan Neilson, Ben came home in 48.72 seconds, 1.2sec faster than his British squad mate Scott Brash on Sebastian.
 
“She’s a lovely mare, very adjustable,” explained Ben. “It was a course on which you had to go quickly from the start. We managed to pick up a rhythm and get on a good stride – some courses go for you all the way and this was one.”  A previous leading rider at Olympia, Ben said: “Olympia is the best show in the world. I always really look forward to it.”
 
Earlier in the evening, the Duchess of Cornwall presented the Raymond Brooks Ward Trophy which goes to the most promising young rider, to British dressage team gold medallist Charlotte Dujardin. She also met young riders from the Shetland Pony Grand National and Paralympians Emma Sheardown and Nathasha Baker who both were awarded British Equestrian Federation medals of honour.
 
Other medallists were Robert Smith, eventing team farrier Haydn Price, chairman of selectors Mandy Stibbe, Charlotte Dujardin and Emile Faurie.  Clare Whtiaker presented FEI Badge of Honour to Peter Charles and Robert Whitaker.
 
Among the faces in the audience on a packed night were Alan Titchmarsh and Rory Bremner.
 
The afternoon performance saw the first showjumping class of the show in the Christmas
Pudding Stakes and it was Irelands Dermott Lennon who took the title.  The penultimate rider in the 10-horse jump-off, he shaved more than a second off the stiff target set by Olympia favourite John Whitaker, whose dashing display on the appropriately named grey mare Dazzle ll raised the roof.
 
All three leading riders were riding mares – third-placed Marcus Ehning was riding Noltes Kuchengirl, a prolific winner on the European circuit.
 
Dazzle is usually ridden by John’s daughter Louise, who has won several good national classes on the 10-year-old by Cavalier Royale. “I enjoy borrowing her,” said John, who thought he lost the competition when Dermott achieved the turn to the second last fence with a couple less strides.“You always know you’re in with a chance on Dazzle. She’s a real fighter.”

Earlier, the Princess Royal was present at Olympia to watch Laura Renwick, riding Parvati de Breve, team up to win the Pony Club Mini-Major with Enfield Chace branch member Katie Waldock-Smith on Duncrynes Jungle Bunny.

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