Ben Maher and Dallas Vegas Batilly win World Cup

  • With the Longines FEI World Cup series now in full swing, there were two huge British results to celebrate this week, one for Jessica Mendoza in Toronto and the other for Ben Maher in Verona. We were also thrilled to see one of our favourite stallions Vermento back to his grand prix-winning ways in Lier.
    Read on for our weekly round-up of international showjumping news and results.

    Showjumping news: ‘Dallas gave me everything today’

    A week after their third-place finish in the Longines FEI World Cup qualifier in Lyon, France, Ben Maher and uber-mare Dallas Vegas Batilly (Cap Kennedy x L’Arc De Triomphe*Bois Margot) triumphed in this week’s leg in Verona, Italy, presented by Scuderia 1918. A top-class field of eight from 40 starters came through to the jump-off and, from penultimate draw, the reigning Olympic champion and the 10-year-old mare he co-owns with Pamela Wright and Charlotte Rossetter scorched home a fraction ahead of Steve Guerdat with the 14-year-old multi-winning Venard De Cerisy. The Swiss rider injured his shoulder in the first round but he said it didn’t affect his performance against the clock.

    Finishing third was Nicola Philippaerts for Belgium riding another super mare, Katanga VH Dingeshof.

    “It was a very difficult jump-off – you had to ride the right lines to make it smooth and fast,” said Ben of the track set by Uliano Vezzani. “Dallas gave me everything today, she was really fighting for me and everything went my way – she was incredible!”

    Ben revealed he had warmed up the “sensitive” mare away from the main collecting ring because of the incredible atmosphere in the ring.

    “I warmed up early so I could watch Steve Guerdat and I picked the right one to watch!” said the Hertfordshire rider. “My horse is a bit like Steve’s – she lands, she turns and everything went my way today, but it was so very close!

    “She likes to be the boss and for me to be the passenger!”

    Ben Maher and Dallas Vegas Batilly in the World Cup prizegiving

    Ben Maher and Dallas Vegas Batilly in the World Cup prize-giving.

    The reigning European champion Steve Guerdat paid tribute to his rival: “Ben rode a great jump-off and fully deserves his win.”

    British rider and university student Antonia Platt, who turns 22 later this month, made her CSI5* World Cup debut on Marvin Van De Waterhoeve, just coming home with 12 faults.

    “Everyone was so nice, I was so excited to be there,” Antonia told H&H“Marvin gave me an unbelievable feeling.

    “I’ve had him since he was nine and he’s now 12 and I’ve always said he was a five-star horse, but we just haven’t had these kind of opportunities up to now,” added Antonia, crediting Matteo Giunti of the CT (Cavalleria Toscana) Academy for the training and the opportunity to compete at her first five-star show.

    Ben had also been in the ribbons the previous day, finishing third with Enjeu De Grisien in Saturday’s winning round competition.

    Big Ben Challenge goes to Daniel Coyle and Legacy

    In other showjumping news, there was plenty of top-class action to enjoy at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto, Canada, where Ireland’s Daniel Coyle and Ariel Grange’s great mare Legacy triumphed in the prestigious $150,000 Mad Barn Big Ben International Challenge. Kelvin Bywater was in action as course-designer and seven combinations went through to the jump-off where Daniel drew gasps from the crowd as he set an unbeatable target.

    Showjumping news: Daniel Coyle and Legacy win the Big Ben Challenge

    Showjumping news: Daniel Coyle and Legacy win the Big Ben Challenge.

    “Legacy now knows how to go very fast,” said Daniel. “I believed she could do it. She’s an amazing horse and I’m delighted to have her. It probably wasn’t the smoothest round I’ve ever had, but she’s such a fighter.”

    Vermento returns to his winning ways

    British showjumper Robert Whitaker rode Caroline Blatchford’s King George-winning stallion Vermento to grand prix glory at the CSI2* Azelhof Autumn Tour, a perfect warm-up for their appearance at this week’s CSI5* World Cup show in Stuttgart, Germany.

    “I haven’t really jumped him since HOYS but I’m going to Stuttgart this week so I took him there and he jumped good,” Robert told H&H. “He was clear in the other ranking class too, but I didn’t jump off because there were so many clears that day.

    “The grand prix was a bit harder – there were only eight clears, which isn’t so many for a two-star. Siebe Leemans, who finished second, was very, very fast but Vermento was just very, very good on the turns and quick.

    “These World Cup shows are hard to get into, but luckily I can get into London this year, so I’ll do that, too.”

    Bluman first, Mendoza second in Toronto World Cup

    After finishing second to Daniel Coyle in last year’s Longines FEI World Cup qualifier in Toronto, Daniel Bluman went one better this time to triumph on the lovely grey mare Gemma W (Luidam x Unaniem) after a thrilling five-way jump-off. Finishing second was British rider Jessica Mendoza on I-Cap CL Z, with Kent Farrington of the USA third on rising star, the nine-year-old Greya.

    “I don’t know how many chances you get to win a grand prix like this one so when you are given the chance, the minimum you can do is beat the time of the rider that went before you,” explained 33-year-old Daniel. “My goal was to beat Kent’s time. Hopefully the rails would stay up and I could then put the pressure on Jess not to beat me.

    Daniel Bluman and Gemma W win the World Cup qualifier in Toronto, Canada

    Daniel Bluman and Gemma W win the World Cup qualifier in Toronto, Canada.

    “Gemma is all heart. She maybe lacks some of the physical ability to jump the big fences, but she will always give you everything. When I walked the course today, the verticals were big, and we had the triple combination to finish. But I had a good feeling that my mare was feeling good. I haven’t jumped her too big this year and was trying to pick the right places for her. She felt amazing, and sometimes it just goes your way.”

    Jess Mendoza, who was competing at The Royal for the first time, describes her 11-year-old I’m Special De Muze gelding as “amazing”.

    “I trust him completely,” she said. “I know if I make crazy turns and I’m at a big angle, he’s going to take off, and he’s going to do his best to clear it. This is an incredible show and an unbelievable feeling to be in front of that crowd.”

    Showjumping news: Jessica Mendoza and I-Cap CL Z finish second in the World Cup qualifier of Toronto

    Showjumping news: Jessica Mendoza and I-Cap CL Z finish second in the World Cup qualifier of Toronto. @Ben Radvanyi Photography

    Course-designer Kelvin Bywater first built at The Royal in 1991 alongside mentor Bob Ellis.

    “To come back and design here this week has been something special,” he said.

    A win for Robert Murphy

    British rider Robert Murphy rode the 11-year-old Hulde G to victory in a speed class at the CSI4* Maastricht and finished second in the accumulator. John Whitaker was also in the money at the show with Sharid, and the jumping legend just picked up four faults in the grand prix jump-off on Equine America Unick Du Francport. The feature class was won by Maikel van der Vleuten with Catoki stallion Luigi D’Eclipse.

    Showjumping news: Brits hit flying form in Spain

    We conclude this week’s showjumping news round-up with the CSI3* grand prix on the Autumn Mediterranean Equestrian Tour, which was won by Spanish rider Mariano Martinez Bastida on Jup, with Donald Whitaker and Nikita Du Roton (Elvis Ter Putte x Chippendale Z) second with the only other double clear of the competition. Among a raft of multi-winning British riders this week was Nicole Lockhead Anderson with I Am A Harley and Christian Street, and Louise Simpson on Dallco Chance and Starouge.

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