CSI 3*

Ben Maher & Tic Tac Turn Back the Time to Win $137,000 Restylane Grand Prix CSI 3*

Wellington, Florida, USA – January 24, 2021 – It was a thrilling finish for the final day of the second week of FEI competition at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) as Olympic team gold medalist Ben Maher (GBR) and the 18-year-old stallion Tic Tac, owned by Jane Forbes Clark, edged the competition by just one one-hundredth of a second to take top honors in the $137,000 Restylane Grand Prix CSI 3* on Sunday, January 24.

Ben Maher (GBR) & Tic Tac

A total of 42 entries entered the ring on the derby field at Equestrian Village to tackle the course designed by Oscar Soberon (USA) with 12 qualifying to return for the jump-off. Maher executed the track flawlessly aboard the Belgian Sport Horse stallion (Clinton x Panama Du Seigneur), leaving all eight obstacles in their cups to secure the win in a blistering time of 43.56 seconds, just one one-hundredth of a second ahead of Canada’s Eric Lamaze (CAN).

“It was my lucky day, and sometimes it just happens like that,” he said with a big smile. “Eric is one of the fastest riders in the world, and he was on a great horse, so I think I had the luck of the draw. I was also on an experienced horse. Tic Tac is 18 and doesn’t come out very often, but he gives me great confidence and he did everything right for me today.”

Eric Lamaze (CAN) & Fine Lady 5

It certainly came down to the wire with some of the world’s best riders giving the shortened course their best shot. Olympic gold medalist Eric Lamaze (CAN) also had a veteran partner for the test, finishing a close second aboard 18-year-old mare Fine Lady 5 (Forsyth FRH & Drosselklang II) for Artisan Farms and Little Creek Investments, in a time of 43.57 seconds.

“Fine Lady is naturally very fast,” said Lamaze. “I’ve had a few classes where we went too fast and paid for it, and I asked myself, ‘Why did I go so fast?’ I was trying to keep a good rhythm. I knew who was coming behind me; Ben is one of the best riders in the world. I knew I rode a fast course.”

Conor Swail (IRL) & GK Coco Chanel

Rounding out the top three was another rider known to be quite speedy, Conor Swail (IRL), with 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding GK Coco Chanel (Clarimo x Lerano 2) for Vanessa Mannix. The pair gave it a solid try, keeping all the jumps up in a time of 44.04 seconds to slide into third place.

“I thought the track was good today,” said Swail. “It was a little different from some of the other competitions we’ve been jumping in, less numbers down the lines, but it was creative, and we got a very good result. It wasn’t huge, but it was challenging, so I have to give the course builder credit for that!”

Like many of the riders competing this week, Maher spoke highly of the opportunity to jump on the stunning derby field, noting the change of scenery from the International Arena at PBIEC as a great way to keep the horses fresh through a lengthy competition schedule.

Beth von Brecht, Restylane Brand Manager ,with Ben Maher (GBR) &Tic Tac in their winning presentation for the $137,000 Restylane Grand Prix CSI 3*

“For me, the grass arena here is one of the best grass arenas there is in the world,” he said. “That’s why I picked this week to bring a horse of Tic Tac’s age over here. They’re great conditions. I thought it was a great course, and it was nice to see some new jumps out here this year. It’s so refreshing and great to be over here.”

Having already had some success at WEF this winter, including a win in $6,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m Jumpers during WEF 1, Lamaze echoed Maher’s praise of the turf track.

“I think they should have as many competitions out here as they can,” he said. “It is the best footing in the world, the horses love jumping here, and for me that’s real show jumping out there. We appreciate all of the effort that is made to keep us safe from COVID. These are difficult times, so we should all be grateful for that.”

Competition continues next week at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) as part of 13 weeks of show jumping at the WEF. The schedule is jam packed with a stellar roster of classes including the Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Jumpers on Wednesday, the Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m Jumpers on Thursday, Friday’s $37,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 3, the CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic on Saturday, and the $137,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI3* to wrap up the week on Sunday afternoon. Spectators can watch all the feature classes for free on the livestream.

Source: Press release Kim Beaudoin & Sabrina Bashares / Jennifer Wood Media Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions  / PBIEC – Palm Beach International Equestrian Center

Photos: © Sportfot


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