Wellington, Florida, USA – September 18, 2022 – No stranger to the winner’s circle, reigning Olympic champion Ben Maher (GBR) concluded a successful weekend at the Equestrian Village during the ESP September horse show on Sunday, grabbing the top spot in the $25,000 Nutrena Grand Prix aboard Jane Forbes Clark’s Ginger-Blue. The quick-footed partnership bested the class of 24 entries hailing from 11 nations, which added another victory to Maher’s list after finishing one-two in the $10,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Open Stake earlier in the week on Forbes Clark’s Tic Tac and Ginger-Blue, respectively.
Jad Dana (LEB) and After Eight, owned by Springhill Farm 1850 LLC, earned the runner-up spot in the competition with a double-clear time of 41.93 seconds.
They were followed by Kevin Mealiff (IRL) aboard Morlynn Farm’s Cesar De B’Neville with a fault-free time of 42.26 seconds. Five partnerships finished the class without any penalties.
Sunday’s $25,000 Nutrena Grand Prix showcased an international field, with competitors representing Great Britain, Ireland, Puerto Rico, Lebanon, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, the United States, Mexico, Canada, Italy, and Venezuela. Course designer Andy Christiansen (ECU) had created a course for the grass Derby Field, but instead used an altered design in the Van Kampen Covered Arena as the class was relocated due to early-morning rain. Throughout the first round of riding, seven duos tripped the timers without any faults to qualify for the jump-off
As the final competitors in the order-of-go, Maher and Ginger-Blue were up against a leading time of 41.93 seconds. Wasting no time around the track, the duo handily completed the course without accruing any faults and crossed the finish line in 40.56 seconds to secure the blue ribbon and lion’s share of the prize money.
“These horses have been here the whole summer, so the last time they jumped was the $500,000 [Rolex Grand Prix CSI5*] class in April,” noted Maher. “I’m very lucky to be a part of the team with Jane [Forbes] Clark as they keep them fit for me. This week was a good week to come as it is always an amazing show over here on this side of the street. We are just trying to keep the horses fit and keep them going before they go to their next show in Toronto. Even though we didn’t get to compete on the grass today, it was great to ride indoors today for this class and get the horses back over some jumps.”
“Ginger-Blue is naturally a really fast horse, so sometimes I have to be careful not to let her get too carried away. I just tried to keep it smooth and keep the turns neat everywhere. She is usually very quick to the final fence, so I just had to keep her steady,” reflected Maher of his jump-off trip.
Final Results – $25,000 Nutrena Grand Prix
1) Ben Maher (AUS) & Ginger – Blue – 0 / 0 – 40.563
2) Jad Dana (LBN) & After Eight – 0 / 0 – 41.935
3) Kevin Mealiff (IRL) & Cesar De B’Neville – 0 / 0 – 42.262
Source: Press Release from Equestrian Sports Productions
Photos: © Anne Gittins Photography