Defending LGCT Super Grand Prix champions Ben Maher and Explosion W came agonisingly close to regaining their title at the Prague Playoffs on Saturday night (20 November). However when an “uncharacteristic” pole fell at the penultimate 1.65m vertical in the second round of the feature class, they dropped down to finish third behind winners Henrik von Eckermann with King Edward and the runner-up Sergio Alvarez Moya on Alamo.
“I’m happy with my result but they were better than me today,” reflected Ben, who had jumped clear in round one.
This is Ben’s assessment of his performance in the €1.25m LGCT Super Grand Prix…
‘His brain goes faster than his legs’
“I had Henrik after me so I took every inside turn that I could,” says Ben, who had penultimate draw for round two after a traditionally quick opening clear. “Explosion is a very big horse for this arena and sometimes his brain starts to go faster than his legs. He jumped better in the first round but was still trying incredibly hard in the second round.”
‘Maybe I hindered him’
“I gave him just a moment of time on the top turn to help him but maybe I hindered him,” reveals Ben. “I think I was about a foot too far away [from the penultimate vertical] and it was an uncharacteristic fault for him.”
‘It forces you into mistakes’
“That’s what happens when you have pressure from combinations like Henrik von Eckermann with King Edward, who is really on form, and Sergio Alvarez Moya,” says Ben. “It forces you into mistakes a bit.”
‘A new dimension to the sport’
“This is modern sport with the pyrotechnics and light shows – carefully done not to upset the horses, which is a hard thing to do,” says Ben after this third running of the LGCT Super Grand Prix. “It brings a new dimension to the sport – it makes it exciting for the public whether they like horses or not and you have a great crowd here. So it was one of the best atmospheres, obviously under unique circumstances this year, but one of the best I’ve ridden in since I left here last year.”
‘An incredible moment in my career’
“I have many good memories here,” says Ben, who lifted the title with the only double clear last time it was run two years ago. “2019 was an incredible moment in my career – at the time one of the biggest moments, although this year I was lucky just to go ahead of that [winning Olympic gold]!”