City of Dreams Delivers as Ben Maher Takes 2019 LGCT Title in New York

It was ‘game, set and match’ after Ben Maher (GBR) wrote history aboard Explosion W in an extraordinary Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of New York, taking the LGCT Grand Prix win and the 2019 Championship title just hours after helping to secure the GCL team series crown for the London Knights.

In the city that never sleeps it would turn out to be a superlative showdown with a script that sporting dreams are made of. With spectators filling the rafters of the grandstand and positioned in every inch of space, the equestrian world watched as the knife-edge Championship reached its conclusion on Governors Island.

Devos (BEL) lead the overall ranking by just one point, but with pressure reaching fever pitch it was Ben Maher (GBR) who kept a cool head in a seven-rider jump-off to catapult himself to the title win – his second after taking the 2018 Championship.

A beaming Ben said:

I knew it would be a tough weekend – the dream was to win the team [title] and the individual. It doesn’t happen often. What a horse – he’s incredible. He understands me, I understand him, we have a great connection and it’s a pleasure to be in the sport like this.

Its incredible [to win the title for a second year running]. Last year was unexpected, this year I’ve used Explosion a little less, I’ve used Concona, Madame X and F One USA, so I’m lucky to have so many great horses and great owners.”

In a touching sporting moment Maher praised his rival Pieter Devos, who was just beaten into second place in the Championship.

[Pieter] gave a great fight, it was a push all the way to the end. I’m sure he’s going to come back strong.”

Pieter Devos (BEL) was awarded a well-deserved runner up place in New York, just shy of the win he so hungered for. Speaking in the press conference he said:

I am proud to be second after one of the best combinations in the world. I am proud of my horses and what they have achieved for me – they did an incredible job and I want to thank them for that. It has been great sport all season, not just this weekend. I want to congratulate Ben and Daniel, Ben did an incredible job.”

Third place went to Daniel Deusser (GER), the first time the German rider has rounded out the top three in the Championship race. Deusser said:

Ben and Pieter this year have been in a totally different league. You see how much closer everything got and it has been a tough Championship throughout the whole season. There are multiple different places on the Tour – grass arenas, sand arena, small and big arenas. I tried my best but couldn’t reach Ben and Pieter.”

In the breathtaking display of top sport and entertainment, the Finals of the 2019 Longines Global Champions Tour season hit the ‘big apple’ in New York for the first time ever. Set against unprecedented views of downtown Manhattan, the 18-event Championship race came to its climax under clear blue skies and balmy September weather.

LGCT President and Founder Jan Tops highlighted the calibre of competition:

It has been super exciting all season. It was down to the last round and we had great riders in the jump-off. This is the highest level of sport you can see.

It is important for us to be in New York. America is an important horse nation and we have a strong footprint in the States. We found a good place for the horses and riders [on Governors Island]. We have started a fantastic tradition for years to come.”

Speaking about the talented 10-year-old chestnut gelding, Maher said:

[A horse like Explosion] only comes around maybe once in a lifetime. I’m so thankful to Poden Farms to be able to ride a horse like this and Cormac, his groom.”

Fans filled every space possible around the arena, packing into the bustling shopping village to catch glimpses of their show jumping heroes competing under the watchful eye of the Statue of Liberty. The chic hospitality was full to the brim with high profile guests, including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Bruce and Patti Springsteen, Donna Karan and Christy Turlington.

All enjoyed a passionate rendition of “New York, New York” performed by the Sing Harlem choir, before the National Anthem rang out around the arena, giving all goosebumps and heightening the anticipation for the action to come.

Uliano Vezzani produced a masterclass of a course, making full use of the large sand arena. A hefty Longines triple combination made its first appearance of the weekend, and a bush-filled green and white double set by the VIP tent caught the eye of a few horses. The spectacular Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building flanked vertical took centre stage in the ring, and gappy NY silhouetted vertical gave the riders plenty to think about.

So it is back-to-back titles for Ben Maher (GBR) securing both the 2018 and now 2019 LGCT Championship. The focus will now be on Prague, and the GC Playoffs, where the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix and the GCL Super Cup will play out this November.

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