Ben Maher and Dallas Vegas Batilly Claim Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 7

February 22. 2024

British Olympic champion Ben Maher was able to stake his claim on the week 7 round of the Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup riding Dallas Vegas Batilly on Thursday at Wellington International’s Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). The Lugano Diamonds-sponsored week brought both five-star and two-star competition back to the International Arena. 

Fifty riders took to the two-round course designed by Anthony D'Ambrosio (USA) with 10 advancing to the tie-breaking jump-off. Less than a second separated the top three with Maher piloting “Tilly” – as the mare is called in the barn – to top call. The 11-year-old Selle Français mare (Cap Kennedy x L'Arc de Triomphe*Bois Margot) stopped the clock at 36.03 to pip current leader Andrew Bourns (IRL). 

Ben Maher & Dallas Vegas Batilly, winners of the Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup. Photo © Sportfot

Kent Farrington (USA) and Scott Keach (AUS) tried their best to beat Maher’s time but came up fractions short. Farrington took second aboard Landon in 36.71 second for owner Haity Mc Nerney while Keach claimed third riding Noble de la Chapelle, owned by Southern Cross Equestrian, LLC, in 36.74 seconds

“I’m lucky with Tilly – she has a huge stride, so I was able to get going and make up some time,” said Maher of the mount he owns together with Charlotte Rossetter and Pamela Wright. “It was lucky for me that I stayed ahead today. It’s always difficult to win here [at WEF] whether on Thursday or Saturday night. When you have riders like Kent and Richard [Vogel] coming behind you, it’s never over until it’s over.”

Ben Maher & Dallas Vegas Batilly are presented as winners of the Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup by Kat Kilcommons, Event Specialist with Adequan. Photo © Sportfot

Maher has had the ride on Dallas Vegas Batilly for a year and a half, and they started their career together with a win in the CSI4* NetJets Grand Prix during WEF in 2023.

“She’s been an incredible horse early in her career,” said Maher, 41. “She jumped great in the five-star a couple weeks ago and I felt she was on form, which is why we brought her back this week.  

“The horses have come together at the right time, and it really allows me to pick and choose what’s best for them,” continued Maher of his string that’s on top form this season. 

Kent Farrington & Landon. Photo © Soprtfot

When asked about Dallas Vegas Batilly’s personality, Maher noted, “When you’re not on her, my 18-month-old son Cooper can sit on her and she’s the sweetest horse ever. When you’re on her, she has a lot of opinions. I have to be the passenger not the pilot and get her to do things by asking her not telling her. We've come with a great relationship, and I want to bring out the best in her. We saw today that she's a real fighter for me.” 

Scott Keach & Noble de la Chapelle. Photo © Sportfot

Prior to five-star action, two-star riders competed in the International Arena for the CSI2* Ethel M Chocolates 1.45m. Thirty-four riders started their morning off with the speed course designed by D’Ambrosio. 

Leading the pack was Ireland’s Philip McGuane and Linguini De La Pomme, owned by Evergate Stables, LLC. The pair took the win with a clear time of 57.33 seconds. Following by just fractions of a second was Lucas Porter (USA) and Lingulio O, owned by Sleepy P Ranch BV, who crossed the finish line at 57.73 seconds. Closing out the podium was Amy Millar (CAN) and Jagger HX, owned by Team Eye Candy & Millar Brook Farm. The pair finished on a clear time of 58.77 seconds. 

Philip McGuane & Linguini De La Pomme, winners of the CSI2* Ethel M Chocolates 1.45m. Photo © Sportfot

International show jumping competition continues throughout the Lugano Diamonds-sponsored WEF 7 and comes to a peak in the $385,000 Lugano Diamonds CSI5* Grand Prix during ‘Saturday Night Lights’ at Wellington International. 

Jef Lauwers and Kamara Best the Rest in $5,000 KeyFlow Feeds USA 3’ Green Hunter Classic

Coming off World Championship Hunter Rider week, hunters returned to the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Arena for Week 7 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Kicking off the week was the $5,000 KeyFlow Feeds USA 3’ Green Hunter Classic, a new addition to the 2024 schedule at WEF. Taking the win in not only the classic, but in all three 3’ Green Hunter classes of the day was Jef Lauwers of Magnolia, TX, and Kamara, owned by Kaitlin Porath. 

Jef Lauwers & Kamara, winners of the $5,000 KeyFlow Feeds USA 3’ Green Hunter Classic. Photo © Sportfot

The pair received scores of 79 and 81 for a combined 160 to take the top prize. “It's always hard to bring young horses along,” said Lauwers. “So, it was nice to come out here and jump a nice round in this arena. Following hunter week, it's a good week for a horse like this that is five turning six and needs to get in the rhythm and stay showing and be consistent in that way. This was a perfect week to get the younger horses out here.” 

Kamara’s owner, Kaitlin Porath, has been ringside with Lauwers every step of the way after importing the gelding from Europe two years ago.

“It's always nice to have people like Kaitlin that want to spend time and invest in horses to get in the program,” said Lauwers. “It's always fun and rewarding to bring horses along for people that are really committed to the sport and want to do right by the horses and right by the trainer.” 

Jef Lauwers & Kamara are presented as winners of the $5,000 KeyFlow Feeds USA 3’ Green Hunter Classic. Photo © Sportfot

Following Lauwers in the line-up was Jennifer Hannan of Wakefield, RI, and In The Mist, owned by Jennifer Smith, with scores of 76 and 83.5, for a combined score of 159.5. Taking third was Lisa Rex of Westbury, NY, and Sheena Firestone with scores of 81 and 78 for a total of 159.

“I think he's going to have a good career,” said Lauwers of the gelding by Checkter. “Very scopey, very pretty, and always does a good job. He’s playful a little bit sometimes, but it's part of being a young horse. We put one foot in front of another.”