British rider Ben Maher seized first place in the opening CSI 5* of the Monaco weekend taking full advantage of his last place on the starting list. In the glamorous setting of Monte-Carlo Ben turned up the heat with his lively chestnut gelding Aristo Z and burned up the course to take top spot. French rider Michel Robert was first in and had been leading the event from the word go, finishing in a time of 57.00 on Catapulte. A string of leading riders had tried but failed to beat Michel’s time which stood until the 46th rider, Ben Maher, entered the ring.
Ben was fast from the start and took a daring inside turn to fence eight, the Jaeger-LeCoultre oxer, before powering over the double combination and the final jump to finish clear in 56.06. Ben said: “It was a fast course. There was not so much space between the fences. Aristo is a fast horse. He is clever and he always wants to win. It’s always good to go last and win.”
Veteran rider Michel said of his second place: “I waited a long time because I started first and the last one was the winner. It was a difficult course. My mare jumped well so I am happy. It is a special show and it is challenging for the horses.” Cindy van der Straten-Marie achieved third place in 58.56 with a polished fast round on her bay stallion Sherman Sitte. She said: “It was super to win a prize at a GCT show.”
It was a jet set start to the weekend’s sport in Monaco, with a dazzling line-up of riders in the first 5* class sponsored by the Monaco Equestrian Federation. Michael Whitaker, Denis Lynch, Edwina Tops-Alexander and Christian Ahlmann were all on parade. And there were new faces including British rider Ellen Whitaker, from the Whitaker show jumping dynasty. Irish rider Jessica Kürten returned to the GCT circuit. And American rider Jessica Springsteen, daughter of “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen rode a strong clear on Temmie in 65.70. Marta Ortega, from the family behind the multi-billion euro Zara and Massimo Dutti fashion brands, also jumped clear.
The stunning arena is lined on one side by some of the world’s most expensive superyachts and sits beneath the ramparts of the Prince’s Palace. Illuminated boards around the showground highlighted the international sponsors involved in the GCT from HSBC Private Bank, to Gucci, Jaeger-Le Coultre and Christie’s. Only two weeks after the Formula One Grand Prix raced through the streets and tunnels of Monaco, the stage is set for a fantastic three days of equestrian sport.
Source: Press release from Global Champions Tour
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