Ben Maher and Serena feature in Wellington's 4* grand prix

From an initial, star-studded field of 50, Ben Maher and Jane Clark’s Serena contested the five-horse jump-off of the $216k Lugano Diamonds 4* grand prix at the conclusion of week 8 of the WEF, Wellington. Four faults dropped them down the line from second to fourth

Ireland’s Darragh Kenny claimed the top spot on Red Star D’Argent (pictured above), a former ride of Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya who joined him after Christmas.Red Star d’Argent is an 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding (by Quick Star) that Kenny’s Oakland Ventures owns in partnership with Spanish rider Sergio Alvarez Moya. This was the second win of the circuit for the newly paired duo, who also topped the $130,000 Grand Prix CSI 3* during week six competition at The Stadium at PBIEC.Speaking of their partnership and what he has learned about the gelding over the last several weeks, Kenny remarked, “I am learning that he is a really good horse. He can go anywhere and do anything at the moment. The horse gives me a great feeling every time I jump him; he is getting better and better.”“I was working a lot with the rideability, and getting him confident, and feeling confident with me,” Kenny explained. “Today, I must say he jumped excellent from the word go. He felt super. He feels really happy and he is jumping great. Up until this week I had never even jumped him over the water. I called Sergio on Wednesday and was like, ‘Does he jump the water?’ I must say, I am lucky to have the horse, and Sergio is great. He puts no pressure on me and lets me do what I want with the horse, and it is paying off. He is going to want him back next week!”

Australia’s Matt Williams took third with Valinski S (pictured above), a Nijinsky/Julius 14-year-old gelding originally produced in England by Sally Lane until 2011.

Matt has his sights set on the Rio Olympic Games and has formed a great new partnership with Valinski.

“I have not had him that long. I got him at the beginning of the winter and every time he has gone in a big grand prix, he has been clear or four faults, so he is consistent and giving me a great feeling,” Williams said of his mount. “He jumps with a lot of heart, so at the moment I just have to keep him fresh and hopefully it will keep going to way it is going.”

On Friday, Amanda Derbyshire claimed third in the 1.40m on Lady Maria BH, Stacey Babes took ninth in Thursday’s seven-year-old on Little Beach, and Ben Maher was ninth in Friday’s seven-year-old on new ride Sentimento LS.

Photos © Sportfot