Ben Maher and Joe Stockdale show the rest the way home in the International round-up of the week

Monday 15 January 2024

Ben Maher and Joe Stockdale show the rest the way home in the International round-up of the week

Ben Maher was back under the spotlight at Wellington International in Florida, USA, and, almost 12 months after suffering a fall and bring sidelined for three months with a shoulder injury, he bounced back to winning form.

Partnering Pamela Wright and Charlotte Rossetter’s Enjeu De Grisien, World Number 2 Ben sped to victory in the first of the 2024 $140,000 ‘Saturday Night Lights’ Southern Arches Grand Prix.

“It's great every Saturday night here,” said Maher, who is coming off an FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix win in London in Enjeu de Grisien. “It’s a good atmosphere and you have some of the best riders in the world which gives top sport.”

Forty-five riders came forward to tackle USA course-designer Nick Granat’s 3* Grand Prix track with seven answering every question to access the jump-off, including American greats McLain Ward and Kent Farrington.  McLain set off with determination in the opening draw aboard First Lady to post a target for the others to chase.  But Ben eclipsed him on the Toulon x Andiamo 10-year-old by 0.62 seconds.

“It was a difficult course; the time allowed is always a factor here, but my horse is doing very well and I was very happy,” said Ben, of Enjeu de Grisien, the horse that joined his stable as a seven-year-old. 

“He was a difficult young horse, very, very active and had almost too much power for the body he had.  I struggled to get him under control and we were on a different path for a while, I didn’t understand him and he didn’t understand me, but all of a sudden, it just clicked,” added Ben.  “He was always talented but I wasn’t sure whether I was the right rider for him, but we have to adapt and understand our horses and change to what they like.  One day to the next, it worked and he’s continued to be on good form.”

Maher has high hopes for the 2024 WEF season, noting, “At the moment, I actually have a group of horses that are all ready to go like this. It's the best team of horses I've ever had here. I'm very fortunate that I have multiple horses at the moment that can do this, so I'm just going to be careful, selective, not over jump them and make sure that we can have the best WEF possible without using the horses too much for the rest of the season."

It was a double celebration for the Maher Stables as Enjeu’s groom Derren Lake received the Double H Farm’s $500 Grooms Award as the winning groom.

 

Joe Stockdale banks a win with Ebanking in Abu Dhabi

Joe Stockdale landed the 4* Equitrans Logistics Diamond Tour 1.50m with Ebanking at the Al Shira’aa International Horse Show in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

A big entry of 80 riders contended this speed class with Joe allowing Ebanking to run at his own seemingly unhurried pace.  It paid off handsomely as Barbara Hester and Laura Stockdale’s handsome 10-year-old stallion (Etoulon x VDL Sheraton) scored victory, their deceptively fast round secured the win by 1.19 seconds.  It left five-star riders trailing in their wake, Ireland’s Shane Breen in second on Scarteen and Germany’s Christian Ahlmann settled for third aboard Otterongo Alpha Z.

 

Scott Brash speeds to a Grand Prix win in Oliva Nova

Scott Brash claimed victory in the concluding 2* Grand Prix in Oliva Nova, Spain, with Hello Mr President to finish week one at the popular Spanish venue on a high.

The pair had shown their form earlier in the week with second place in Friday’s world ranking 1.45m speed by a narrow margin, finishing only 0.07 seconds behind Belgium’s Constant van Paesschen on Diaz Du Thot in a 43-strong class.

But they came to the fore in the Grand Prix to move up one place.  Forty-one initially contended course-designer Elena Bois’ 13-fence 1.45m track with 10 posting clear rounds to access the jump-off.  The experienced partnership of Scott and Lady Harris and Lady Kirkham’s Comme D’Api V/D Hacienda Z 15-year-old proved no match for the other nine contenders and they cruised into the top spot with 0.92 seconds to spare.

Olivia Sponer jumped to the top in Friday’s Gold 1.40m speed on the 15-year-old Crazy Girl (Corlensky G x Ars Vivendi), beating their 23 rivals by a handsome 3.51 seconds.  The partnership finished third in the final day’s 63-strong Gold 1.40m two-phase, 2.28 seconds behind the winner, Israel’s Robin Muhr on Stawita PS.

Image: Ben Maher and Enjeu De Grisien. Credit: Sportfot

 
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