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Ben Maher is back and winning at WEF

Sunday, 14 January 2024
CSI3* Winter Equestrian Festival 2024 (W1)

Photo © Sportfot. Ben Maher and Enjeu de Grisien, presented as winners of the $140,000 Southern Arches CSI3* Grand Prix by Michael Stone, President of Wellington International. Photo © Sportfot.


Press release from Wellington International



British Olympic Champion Ben Maher and Enjeu de Grisien wowed a Wellington, FL, crowd in the first ‘Saturday Night Lights’ grand prix of the season at Wellington International on the evening of January 13. The pair won the $140,000 Southern Arches CSI3* Grand Prix from a 45-horse field over tracks designed by USA’s Nick Granat.

WEF hosts 12 weeks of FEI Competition at Wellington International and runs through March 31.

Maher is back under the lights of Wellington International after suffering a fall at the beginning the 2023 WEF that sidelined him for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. However, the current world no. 2 has returned better than ever aboard Enjeu de Grisien, a 2014 Selle Français gelding (Toulon x Andiamo) he owns together with Charlotte Rossetter and Pamela Wright.

“It's great every Saturday night here,” said Maher, who is coming off an FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix win in London in Enjeu de Grisien. “It’s a good atmosphere and you have some of the best riders in the world which gives top sport.”

Photo © Sportfot. Mclain Ward and First Lady finished second. Photo © Sportfot.

Maher eclipsed the leading time of U.S. Olympic Team Gold Medalist Mclain Ward riding 2013 Oldenburg mare First Lady (Don Diarado x Lordanos), owned by Robin Parsky, from first draw of the evening. They crossed the timers in 37.49 seconds for second.

Fellow U.S. rider Spencer Smith and longtime partner Theodore Manciais, a 2007 Selle Français gelding (Kashmir van Schuttershof) owned by Ashland Farms, took third in 38.31 seconds.

The final double-clear of the night came from Thaisa Erwin (AUS) and 2012 Dutch Warmblood Emerald x Vaillant mare Hialita B, owned with Michael and Wendy Smith. They stopped the clock at 44.67 seconds in fourth.

Erwin also earned the Martha Jolicoeur Leading International Rider Award, presented in memory of Dale Lawler, for her performance across the WEF Challenge Cup – where she finished sixth on Thursday – and Saturday’s top-five grand prix performance.

Photo © Sportfot. Spencer Smith and Theodore Manciais placed third. Photo © Sportfot.

“It was a difficult course; the time allowed is always a factor here but my horse is doing very well and I was very happy,” said Maher of Enjeu de Grisien, the horse that joined his stable as a seven-year-old. 

Maher has high hopes for the 2024 WEF season, noting, “At the moment I actually have a group of horses that are all ready to go like this. It's the best team of horses I've ever had here. I'm very fortunate that I have multiple horses at the moment that can do this, so I'm just going to be careful, selective, not over jump them and make sure that we can have the best WEF possible without using the horses too much for the rest of the season."

Maher was presented as winner of the $140,000 Southern Arches CSI3* Grand Prix by Michael Stone, President of Wellington International. To close the evening, winning groom and Enjeu de Grisien’s caretaker Derren Lake was honored with the $500 Grooms Award, presented by Double H Farm’s Caitlin Creel.

Opening week of international competition at WEF comes to a close on Sunday with the $32,000 Hermès CSI3* 1.50m Classic and the WEF 1 Parade of Champions taking center stage in the International Arena.  


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