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Championship fireworks in Rome as Ben Maher and Explosion W take the LGCT 2018 title

Sunday, 09 September 2018
CSI5* LGCT Rome 2018

Photo (c) LGCT / Stefano Grasso Ben Maher and Explosion W. Photo (c) LGCT / Stefano Grasso.

Great Britain’s Ben Maher and Explosion W (Chacco-Blue x Baloubet du Rouet), one of the most phenomenal combinations in show jumping today, were declared LGCT Champion of 2018 in a fairytale ending to their blazing 2018 season.

The Olympic gold medallist Ben and Poden Farms’ extraordinary Expolsion W have dominated the individual LGCT-championship this year and not only won the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Rome today, but took the overall title.

Under intense pressure Ben and the nine-year-old chestnut gelding produced the fireworks in a scintillating LGCT Grand Prix jump-off securing their place in LGCT history.

The new LGCT Champion of Champions said after his victory: “It has been an incredible season, I can’t quite believe it. It is great to be back in the top end of the sport. Explosion W is incredibly fast, I have never ridden a horse as fast without really pushing him. What a horse. Explosion is phenomenal for his age."

“I have a lot to thank Poden Farms and the Moffitt family for for supporting me, it is a team effort. To finish in style like this is something I will savour for some time. To win is a dream come true.”

Ben is already qualified for the new GC Playoffs in Prague and the first-ever LGCT Super Grand Prix after winning the LGCT Grand Prix in Madrid and Ramatuelle/Saint-Tropez and placing second in Shanghai in an incredible record this year. Due to this being his third win, Ben handed a ticket to the LGCT Super Grand Prix to second placed rider, Henrik von Eckermann (SWE), as per the qualification rules.

Ben is also at the top of the GCL overall team ranking with London Knights and could take that title at the finals in Doha in Qatar in November.

The 15th LGCT Grand Prix of the season played out under brilliant blue skies as the cameras panned across the arena towards Rome and the dome of St Peter’s at the Vatican in this unique setting for top show jumping.

The biggest crowd so far packing the seats lining the beautiful Roman amphitheatre lined with 59 imposing marble statues reflecting Ancient Rome and adding to the historic ambience of the prestigious international sports event.

It was a sumptuous feast of top show jumping with spectators fanning themselves in the heat as they watched an afternoon of sporting joy and heartbreak unfold.

Another genius, deceptive course by international designer Uliano Vezzani required perfect and precise performances from the stellar horse and rider combinations with no room for error.

The tough course for the 35 qualifiers produced only five clear rounds at the halfway point.

Guests from around the world watched from the stunning architect-designed Hospitality Lounge. Longines President Walter von Kanel and Longines Vice President of Sales and International Marketing were joined by 150 guests for the launch of the brand’s new watch the Conquest VHP coinciding with the LGCT Grand Prix in Rome.

A volley of top riders went early in the draw and the surprises came thick and fast. Irish Under-25 Michael G Duffy (IRE) on Castlefield Rubinus (Rock Forever x Renoir I) thrilled with the first clear round on his talented former dressage horse.

Constant van Paesschen (BEL) and Jilbert van’T Ruytershof (Numero Uno x Cartani) followed on with an impressive clear and his compatriot Jos Verlooy (BEL) and Caracas (Casall x Colman) delivered the next clear to win through to the all-important jump-off.

But there was no dolce vita for some of the world’s top riders as several bogey fences put them out of contention - and out of Ben Maher’s way.

Also Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) produced a brilliant round on Cantinero (Cento x Cash) securing themselves a place in the jump-off.

Tension mounted around the arena as it became clear that Ben Maher was in with a strong chance of winning the overall LGCT championship. Despite the knowledge that he could take the title, Ben delivered a flawless round with Explosion W, completing the five rider jump-off.

First to return to the ring, Michael G Duffy set the pace, going clear in 39.68 but leaving the door open for a faster contender.

Henrik von Eckermann polished off another great clear stopping the clock in 38.32 after Constant van Paesschen had pushed too hard and suffered four faults at an early fence.

Jos Verlooy and Caracas came close going clear in 38.32 and the stage was set for Ben and Explosion to finish the job. Despite the intense pressure the British rider appeared cool and calm as he piloted the nine-year-old Explosion to a breathtaking clear round, taking not only the LGCT Grand Prix of Rome win but also the 2018 title. 

The LGCT-championship now looks to Doha, for the final round of the 17-event season when Ben will be crowned 2018 Champion of Champions and the fight for second and third continues.


Press release from LGCT

Photo © LGCT/Stefano Grasso

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