Scott Brash and Ben Maher set the tone at Royal Windsor ahead of Tokyo
Great Britain’s Tokyo team mates, Scott Brash and Ben Maher set the tone for the upcoming Olympic Games on Sunday as the pair threw down the gauntlet to win two of the Royal Windsor Horse Show’s highly acclaimed classes. All three showjumping Olympic team mates were present, including travelling reserve Harry Charles.
CSI5* Manama Rose Show Stakes
Scott Brash landed the spoils in the 1m50 CSI5* Manama Rose Show Stakes with his 12-year-old bay gelding Hello Shelby late morning. Both horse and rider looked calm and collected in what was an incredibly neat and nippy round.
The 1.50m class was one round against the clock and had a total of 17 riders taking on the 12-jump test. The course looked tight, with sharp turns required between fences two – an oxer – into three – an upright – with a similar set-up between six and seven, requiring both precision and agility from horse and rider.
John Whitaker was first to enter the ring on board bay gelding Sharid, finishing the with a clear while setting a comfortable time of 61.54. Scott Brash with Hello Shelby, who was next in and managed to wipe six seconds off Whitaker’s time, making him the one to beat on 55.66. Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca and Malissa de Muse recorded a time of 58.98 to finish in second, with America’s Lillie Keenan – fresh from her win in Friday’s CSI5* Manama Speed Stakes – on Agana van het Gerendal Z one hundredth of a second slower with 58.99, taking third. In the end however, Brash and Hello Shelby’s scorching time was unbeatable.
Speaking after his victory, Brash was full of praise for his horse:
I just tried to keep it as neat and tidy as I could. Hello Shelby is naturally a very fast horse, he is very experienced and used his strength keeping it tight, and he jumped great.”
John Whitaker finished in six after being knocked down the board by another two riders, Jack Whitaker riding Elucar V.E and Daniel Coyle on Oak Grove’s Carlyle, respectively. Irelands Shane Breen and Gail L, with Anthony Condon on Zira vh Kapelho Z finished in 10th and 11th.
Fellow Tokyo team mate Holly Smith, finished in 12th palace riding KWPN chestnut gelding, Fruselli.
Rolex Grand Prix
The pinnacle Show Jumping event of Royal Windsor Horse Show, the Rolex Grand Prix, took centre stage in the Castle Arena for the final session of the 2021 Show and did not disappoint the jubilant crowd. A top-class field of 29 contested the 1.60m course, designed by international course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral. The field included five of the top six ranked riders in the world. With 10 combinations going through to the jump-off, pressure was on from the start.
First to go in the jump-off was Tokyo GB’s travelling reserve, Harry Charles who set the standard by jumping clear in 38.21 seconds on board KWPN gelding, Borsato. However, with some of the best riders in the world to follow, Charles had a nervous wait as the remaining nine took on the challenging shortened course. Reigning RWHS Rolex Grand Prix champion, Henrik von Eckermann, put in an impressive effort aboard the aptly named King Edward to take over pole position, although his lead was short lived. He was followed into the Arena by the current European Champion and World No. 3, Martin Fuchs (SUI), riding the phenomenal grey gelding Clooney 51, who made up speed across the ground, jumping clear in 36.87 and topping the leaderboard.
Next up was Britain’s Ben Maher with his Tokyo Olympic mount Explosion W. The 12-year-old chestnut gelding put in an exceptional performance, demonstrating his scope and athleticism, and posting a remarkable time of 35.16 – over a second faster than Fuchs. Swiss World No. 2, Steve Guerdat (SUI), put in a worthy challenge but his effort aboard Venard de Cerisy was only good enough for second place.
Ben Maher, the current World No. 4, said:
I’ve said it before, but Explosion is just incredible, he helped me out a bit today, but he jumps better faster and he was fantastic. Royal Windsor is such a special show, it hasn’t been my luckiest show in the past, so it’s nice to finally win here in front of my owners and in front of a British crowd, and in the Queen’s back garden. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
As with any Grand Prix the prize fund was highly sought after, with Ben Maher riding away with 125,000 Euros. Steve Guerdat scooped 100,000 Euros for second, with 75,000 Euros going to third placed Martin Fuchs.
The 2022 edition of Royal Windsor Horse Show is scheduled to take place from 11-15 May, with an extensive programme of first‐class equestrian competition and performances across five arenas.
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