Britain has made its mark at the second leg of the Global Champion’s Tour (GCT) in Spain, with Ben Maher and Michael Whitaker taking first and second place in the 1.60m grand prix.
With the grand prix counting towards Olympic qualification, and €285,000 of prize money up for grabs, the class attracted a large field of top international riders, however, Ben and Michael were the only riders to jump three clear rounds.
Ben and Tripple X’s time of 41.35 just pipped Michael and Viking to the winning post, who finished the jump off 42.17 seconds. Irish rider Denis Lynch beat them both against the clock, but four faults put him in third place.
Speaking at the press conference Ben Maher said how pleased he was with the 10-year-old stallion’s performance. “He jumped amazingly,” he said. “He had the whole of February off ready for the long season ahead. I was in Florida with him recently but we did not have many good results so we rested him and it worked. This result helps towards selection as we have the Olympics coming. I can’t fault him, it was a lot of jumps on the grand prix course here and a big course.”
Australian-born Edwina Tops-Alexander, who was the overall GCT champion in 2011, is currently top of the ranking table for 2012. However, with another 11 events to go, there is still everything to play for.
“This is top sport and this is what makes it exciting,” Edwina said. “There is a long way to go, this is only the beginning of season. A lot can change and the best one will win.”
The next leg of the GCT 2012 takes place in Hamburg, Germany, on May 16.