Ben Maher Leaves His Mark on CSIO Week at Wellington International

March 3. 2024

British Olympic champion Ben Maher celebrated a banner week at Wellington International during Week 8 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). He capped the final day on Sunday with a victory in the $200,000 JTWG, Inc. CSIO4* Grand Prix aboard Point Break, owned by Charlotte Rossetter and Pamela Wright.

Ben Maher & Point Break, winners of the $200,000 JTWG, Inc. CSIO4* Grand Prix. Photo © Sportfot

Five pairs jumped clear over courses designed by USA’s Steve Stephens and Nick Granat, but Maher was the only one to finish double-clear on the day. He and the Swedish Warmblood stallion (Action-Breaker x Balou du Rouet) set the standard as first to jump clear and first to return for the tie-breaking jump-off. 

Ben Maher & Point Break presented as winners of the $200,000 JTWG, Inc. CSIO4* Grand Prix by Travis, Jacqui, Wyatt, Harley, Payton Gould and William Harvey. Photo © Sportfot

Coco Fath (USA) came closest to pipping the British rider, but settled for second on a single time fault in the jump-off. She rode Aventador 5, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Arpeggio x Landadel) for owner Hillside Farm, LLC. Belgium’s Zoe Conter rounded out the podium on La Una, a 13-year-old Oldenburg mare (Chacco-Blue x For Pleasure), owned by Stephex Stables, with the fastest four-fault round over the short course.

Coco Fath & Aventador 5. Photo © Sportfot
Zoe Conter & La Una. Photo © Sportfot

“This is probably the biggest grand prix he's won,” said Maher of Point Break, a horse he’s had in his string since the stallion's six-year-old year. “It wasn't so long ago he was spooking off every golf cart, but he was always a very talented horse and he's progressed on very nicely.

“His athleticism is what separates him from the other horses,” continued Maher. “The way he can bend his body and move his shoulder allows my job to become much easier. I can ride at the jumps and trust that he can do the job for me.”

Kirsty Bond accepting the $500 Grooms Award, presented by Double H Farm. Photo © Sportfot

Maher’s groom, Kirsty Bond, was presented with the $500 Grooms Award by Double H Farm after the victory in recognition of her care of Point Break.

Ben Maher accepting the Martha Jolicoeur Leading International Rider Award from Michael Smith. Photo © Sportfot

The grand prix win for Maher was combined with Thursday’s victory riding Ginger-Blue in the Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup qualifier. The consistent results secured him the Martha Jolicoeur Leading International Rider Award, presented together with Michael and Wendy Smith.

“I've got a lot of horses ready to go at this level, so I'm very lucky,” said Maher. “But I've tried to use the horses sparingly. I really try to plan which horse is right for each class. To finish on this today has topped off a great week. The strength and depth in my team–both horses and people–it's a great time to be able to ride right now.”

Tom Wachman accepting the Niall Grimes “Cheers” Perpetual Trophy as top money-earning Irish rider during CSIO week at WEF from Michael Stone. Photo © Sportfot

Tom Wachman (IRL) accepted the Niall Grimes “Cheers” Perpetual Trophy as top money-earning Irish rider during CSIO week at WEF, and earlier in the afternoon, Ashlee Bond (ISR) was honored with the Kate Nash Boone Style Award, presented by Michael Meller, for her style of riding and ability to maintain sportsmanlike composure while competing during CSIO week at WEF.

Ashlee Bond accepting the Kate Nash Boone Style Award, presented by Michael Meller. Photo © Sportfot

International competition continues at WEF with CSI5* and 2* competition presented by Bainbridge Companies resuming on March 6.

Top Five Results: $200,000 JTWG, Inc. CSIO4* Grand Prix

  1. Ben Maher (GBR) & Point Break: 2014 Swedish Warmblood stallion (Action-Breaker x Balou du Rouet)Owners: Charlotte Rossetter, Pamela Wright, Ben Maher
  2. Coco Fath (USA) & Aventador 5: 2012 Hanoverian gelding (Arpeggio x Landadel)
    Owner: Hillside Farm, LLC
  3. Zoe Conter (BEL) & La Una: 2011 Oldenburg mare (Chacco-Blue x For Pleasure)
    Owner: Stephex Stables
  4. Sharn Wordley (NZL) & Champion League: 2013 Hanoverian gelding (Cador 5 x Contendro I)
    Owner: Della Wordley
  5. Tom Wachman (IRL) & Berlux Z: 2011 Zangersheide gelding (Berlin x Major de la Cour)
    Owner: Coolmore Showjumping

View Complete Results

Kate Hagerty and Up Next Best the Rest in Voltaire Designs 16-17 Large Junior Hunter

Junior Hunter divisions rounded out on Sunday to close out hunter action for Week 8 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). The Voltaire Designs 16-17 Large Junior Hunter was claimed by Kate Hagerty of Terrebonne, OR, and Up Next, owned by Ashley Schlobach.

Kate Hagerty & Up Next. Photo © Sportfot

In the last year of her junior career, Hagerty has spent her second season at WEF catch riding around the hunter arena to make the most of what the circuit has to offer. “It’s been really fun to catch-ride such talented horses like this one as well as show my own,” said Hagerty. “The season has been great so far and I hope to continue to be consistent in all three rings.” 

Hagerty and Up Next claimed the top tricolor after winning two of their over-fences, with two consistent scores of 89, and placing third in another. 

“He has a really big stride, so it's nice in this ring. He covers so much ground going around, and has a great jump. He's so fun to ride,” said Hagerty of the 10-year-old Westphalian gelding.

Kate Hagerty & Up Next, champions of the Voltaire Designs 16-17 Large Junior Hunter division. Photo © Sportfot

The reserve tricolor went to Paige Walkenbach of Paradise Valley, AZ, and San Pedro 15, owned by Walkenbach Equestrian, LLC. The pair claimed first over fences, as well as taking third in the under saddle.

Paige Walkenbach & San Pedro 15. Photo © Sportfot

Junior Hunter action started the day in The Rost Arena with the 15 & Under Large Junior Hunter, presented by T&R Property Management, where Ava Barnes of Liberty TWP, OH, and Atlas, owned by Stephanie Ring, took home champion. Reserve went to JJ Torano of Wellington, FL, and Castor, owned by Aurora Farms, LLC & Stal Horn.  

Junior hunters continued the day at Rost with the 15 & Under 3’3” Junior Hunter, presented by Snaks 5th Avenchew. Championing the division was Mimi Maddock of New York, NY, and Ocean Road, owned by Maddock Horses LLC. Reserve went to Lili Sonneborne of Washington D.C., and Crackerjack, owned by Andesite Equestrian.

Hunter action will resume on Wednesday, March 6, for Week 9 of WEF, presented by Bainbridge Companies. For the week’s full schedule, click HERE.