Here are a few things to help you get to know the youngest ever Hickstead Derby winner a little better…
Great Britain’s Ben Maher has been crowned champion of champions in the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) for a record-breaking third time at the LGCT Final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday (22 October).
In a thrilling finale to the 2022 season, the Olympic champion Ben Maher and Oakingham Stud’s Faltic HB jumped round the grand prix track for four faults. But when his nearest challenger in the title race, Christian Ahlmann (Dominator 2000 Z), also completed on four faults, leader Ben was assured the overall championship.
Ben Maher becomes the first rider to win the LGCT championship for a third time. Ben and his championship team-mate Scott Brash, plus Edwina Tops-Alexander had all won two titles apiece. But Ben added to his tally of championships he secured in 2018 and 2019.
Such is Ben’s consistency this season, even without his top player Explosion W, he became the first rider to land the LGCT championship without winning a grand prix during the year. But he arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for the LGCT season finale at the top of the leader board and maintained his position to be crowned the overall winner this season.
“It’s been an incredible year,” said a jubilant Ben Maher. “Faltic’s been an amazing horse, it’s the first year he’s come to this level and unfortunately we didn’t win a grand prix this year, but he’s been unbelievably consistent, with many top placings. He’s done a great job to help his team-mate Explosion, who only made one appearance this year, but still helped us to win the title.
“It was pretty stressful here this weekend! It’s an amazing show, it was great sport and all the best horses and riders in the world were here and Pieter Devos and Christian Ahlmann really pushed me to the end. Things just went my way today.”
Belgium’s Pieter Devos finished second in the championship after the LGCT Final, with Christian Ahlmann of Germany taking third.
The winner of the final LGCT grand prix of the season in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was 23-year-old Mikey Pender riding the remarkable Irish-bred HHS Calais. The pair triumphed for the second time this season after a flying double clear in a four-way jump-off. His earlier victory came in the LGCT grand prix of Valkenswaard.
“I can’t believe it, my horse jumped unbelievable,” said the Irish victor, who became the youngest ever winner of the Hickstead Derby in 2019. “I’m absolutely delighted to win one of the biggest grands prix of the year.
“It’s emotional and I’d like to thank the team at home. Without them, days like this wouldn’t be possible.
“Calais fought so hard. Running to the double [in the jump-off], I didn’t know what was going to happen, but as always he tried very hard and gave me everything today.”
As Mikey has already qualified for the Super Grand Prix in Prague next month, the final golden ticket went to second-placed Harrie Smolders of the Netherlands, who was riding the great Monaco NOP.
You can read the full report from the LGCT Final in Riyadh in next week’s H&H magazine, in the shops on Thursday 27 October.
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