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Ben Maher extends winning LGCT-streak as Edwina Tops-Alexander takes the ranking lead

Sunday, 03 June 2018
CSI5* LGCT Saint Tropez 2018

Photo (c) LGCT / Stefano Grasso Ben Maher and Winning Good en route to victory in the LGCT Grand Prix of Saint Tropez. Photo (c) LGCT / Stefano Grasso.

Great Britain’s Ben Maher took a second Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix win of the season on Saturday, following a breathtaking jump-off in the LGCT Grand Prix of Ramatuelle, Saint Tropez. The fight for the 2018 title has intensified after Edwina Tops-Alexander’s podium sees her regain the overall ranking lead.

Tops-Alexander takes back the coveted leader's armband as the LGCT race heads along the Cote D’Azur to Cannes, where she now leads with 154 points overall. Ben Maher (GBR) sits just behind in second, with 143 points, and long-time leader Scott Brash (GBR) is now third with 131 points overall. Both Tops-Alexander and Brash are in the running to make history with a third LGCT-title, as the Tour now looks to the 7th leg of the 2018 calendar. 

A delighted Maher spoke of his special horse; "Winning Good is only nine years old and I’m really lucky with the horses I am riding now. It has been an amazing season so far! We are already in the GC Play Offs but hopefully this has given me a boost in the ranking."

The first event of the season on the French Riviera delivered a dazzling Mediterranean experience for spectators and fans watching live around the world.

Situated metres from the famous Pampelonne Beach at Ramatuelle/Saint-Tropez, the event was an exhilarating mix of top sport and Riviera lifestyle with global brands from Longines to McLaren, Dolce & Gabbana, Hermès and Julius Bar on site. The lively atmosphere in the stylish hospitality and cocktail lounges around the sand arena created a lively atmosphere with a cool Saint Tropez vibe.

First to light up the jump-off, Peder Fredricson (SWE) on Hansson WL (Hip Hop x Iowa) was swift over the early part of the course. The pair rolled back to the Dolce & Gabbana fence, with a big gallop to the last line over the skinny oxer and took five strides to the final Longines fence. Clear and quick, the duo threw down the gauntlet in 39.77s. 

Lillie Keenan (USA) and Super Sox (Salito x Silvio I) were superbly fast but notched up an agonising fault at the second to last fence. Temperatures soared once more as Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) on H&M Legend of Love (Landzauber x Corgraf) shifted up a gear with fantastic tight turns to make up time, throwing everything at the last line but agonisingly knocking down the final fence. Niels Bruynseels (BEL) was unbalanced by a spook on the early part of the course, with the Belgian clocking up four faults at the Julius Bär vertical and ruling himself out of contention.

A danger to Fredricson’s lead, Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) and California (l'Esprit x Libero H) set off to a flying start. Tops-Alexander took a few extra strides but her mare made up the ground in between, propelling them into the lead in 38.78s.

But a win was not guaranteed, with two riders will still to go.

Ben Maher (GBR) and the Poden Farms-owned 9-year-old Winning Good (Winningmood van de Arenberg x Sir Corland) took on the challenge, with fast flowing start to the jump-off. Maher then hit the accelerator to go flat out to the double Longines combination, leaving spectators on the edge of their seats as to whether they’d clear it. The young horse showed all his scope and talent, as the pair rounded up to the final stretch, galloping clear in 37.44s to whoops of sheer delight from GCL team mate Emily Moffitt who is trained by Ben. 

The LGCT Grand Prix win was down to the wire as the final horse and rider entered the arena. Carlos Lopez (COL) and Admara 2 (Padinus x Murano) lost time early on in the course, but it looked too close to call as they galloped down the final line. All eyes were on the clock, but it wasn’t enough as it stopped at 38.41s, with the Colombian rider taking second place.

So it would be Ben Maher who sparkled in Saint-Tropez, shooting up to second in the overall LGCT ranking. Carlos Lopez (COL) would earn a place in the GC Play Offs and the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix, after Maher’s earlier win in Madrid saw him claim his ticket to the final showdown in December.

"I just kept telling myself he is better the more he jumps. I am very proud to be able to ride these horses," Maher said. "It has been incredible, they are only 9 year old horses. In Madrid (LGCT GP Winner) everything went to plan. Today nothing went to plan at all but I had a bit of luck. I knew I had to be quick. I saw my stride a very long way back. I don’t know how he jumped it but my luck was in today."


Source: Press release from LGCT // Picture © Stefano Grasso/LGCT

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