In a class that was contested by thirty-six, it was Great Britain’s Ben Maher who was victorious in the Longines Jumping World Cup Qualifier on board nine-year-old gelding, Enjeu de Grisien at London International Horse Show this weekend.
With the likes of Scott Brash, Julien Epaillard, Peder Fredricson waiting in the wings, it was bound to be a round of sheer class, ability, and determination.
There were a total of six previous winners in the line-up on the day, and the two-round class made light work of narrowing it down to only 11 to go through to the jump-off.
The jump-off featured some of the biggest names in the sport, with Ireland’s in-form Daniel Coyle, Lorenzo de Luca – already a winner this week – and former World No. 1 Peder Fredricson adding to the list of riders going through to jump against the clock.
Much to the excitement of the home fans, last year’s winner Scott Brash secured his place in the second round aboard Hello Jefferson. In doing so, Brash kept his dreams of becoming only the third person to win back-to-back editions of this class alive, following in the footsteps of legends of the sport – Nick Skelton (1983 and 1984) and John Whitaker (1998 and 1999).
With less than a second between them on crossing the finish line in both the first and second rounds, the competition proved both riders and their horses were truly on top form.
Riding away with a rather splendid 42,500 euros, winner of the class, Maher said;
“It was always going to be a fast class with Julien Epaillard going early. He’s a very fast rider and it was one of those classes where it was a huge advantage to go at the end of the draw.
“I had my plan, regardless of what Scott or Daniel had done before me, and I took the jumps on the exact angles that I wanted. I felt the double was the hardest for us to jump, but then Enjeu de Grisien showed his athleticism by taking six strides to the next jump as opposed to the seven that Scott had taken before.
“I came in wide to the penultimate fence, so I could get the turn back to the last that I wanted, and everything just went my way today.
“The Longines FEI Jumping World CupTM is the class that everyone wants to win here. I feel for Scott because it is hard when you ride such a great round and then the next rider beats you, but it has been the other way around many times before! The crowd made the atmosphere electric, which was fantastic because the jump-off and the sport was certainly at its best today.”
For full results, please click here.