Ben Maher held off an American onslaught in a five-horse decider to claim a spectacular victory in the $35,000 Longines FEI world cup qualifier at the Palm Beach Masters, Deer Ridge Farm, Wellington, with Tic Tac.
“This type of venue suits Tic Tac, it’s incredible here. The Jacobs Family is doing a lot to help the sport. We have many arenas like this in Europe, but this really is in my opinion a breath of fresh air to come over here. I think Tic Tac really reacted well to the great grass ring and the nice bright jumps,” said Ben.
“It’s been a lean time for me over the last year or so, I haven’t been in this position too often. I’ve had guys around me telling me that I’m getting too old… but everything went right for me today.”
Ireland’s Alan Wade designed a challenging course and out of the 57 starters, only six returned home clear with a further disappointed three returning on just one time fault. But only five contended the jump-off as Jessica Springsteen opted not to start RMF Swinny Du Parc, leaving her in sixth and Ben was pitted against four American riders.
McLain Ward looked to be the biggest danger but a rail down on HH Callas dropped the world number three down to fifth. It was left to Lauren Tisbo to set a fast target on Coriandolo Di Ribano, relegating the opening round of Adrienne Sternlicht and Cristalline. Ali Wolff chased hard but slotted Casall in behind the top two – it was all down to last-to-go Ben in a tense, edge-of-your-seats atmosphere.
But cool-headed Ben is a master in this situation, and he guided the Clinton 15-year-old Tic Tac into a 0.72 sec victory.
“Sometime jump-offs just go right. Every time I turned I picked up the first distance,” said Ben. “Tic Tac’s naturally a fast horse. I was watching on the screen and I think Adrienne’s horse jumps a little higher than mine, which wastes time in the air, but it’s a nice problem to have. He’s a quick horse, he covers the ground and it went our way today.”
Article Source: Jumping Around
Image courtesy The Ridge Farm
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