Ben Maher secures victory in Wellington
Ben Maher rounded off week three at Wellington’s winter equestrian festival in the USA with victory in the $35,000 Hollow Creek 1.45m classic with Don Vito.
A large field of 58 tackled the course designed by Canada’s Peter Grant with 11 forging clears to access the jump-off. Ben set a healthy target on Don Vito, but thought he’d left the door open for another rider from the talented field to bump him out of the top spot. Nonetheless, he held on to the lead by just 0.11 sec.
“The time was tight with a lot of short distances, which suited Don Vito,” said Ben of the ten-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Quaprice Z x Jus de Pomme) owned by Poden Farms. “In the jump-off, there was one option inside to the original number three and I had a couple of looks when I went in and couldn’t make my mind up. Don Vito sometimes can get too sharp on the turn and then he turns too tight, so I decided to take the option to go round and l thought I’d left the door open there, but fortunately things went our way.”
Don Vito joined the Poden Farms team 18 months ago with Ben claiming the ride 10 months ago from his pupil Emily Moffitt, allowing Ben to stay at top level while producing younger horses through the levels.
“Don Vito has been a great horse for me,” said Ben, who will celebrate his 35th birthday on January 30. “I am very lucky because Poden Farms has some incredible horses right now. Emily is going to go back on him soon, but I have been lucky to ride him for the past eight to ten months.”
Brazil’s Fabio Leivas da Costa and Tosca De Lesque claimed second ahead of Canada’s Jonathon Millar with Daveau. Four faults dropped Amanda Derbyshire and Lady Maria BH down to seventh place.
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