Memories were made in the International ring when the leadline class entered under the arch, and a young rider, sporting a famous show jumping name made his Winter Equestrian Festival debut at 18 months of age.
Cooper Maher, the son of Olympic gold medalist and world ranked number two in show jumping, Ben Maher, and his wife and grand prix rider, Sophie rode Oreo in the class and made a premature exit taking his pony with him.
“I was really glad he didn’t get off right away,” said Sophie. “Because I spent hours plaiting the pony this morning and washing him.” Cooper and Sophie - whose horse riding history began with polo ponies, before moving on to show jumping later in life - were joined in the ring by Sophie’s mother, show jumper Amy Carr. Sophie’s father, former leading high goal polo player, Ruben Gracida was also there to witness Cooper’s horse show debut.
“It’s probably one of my top moments,” Sophie said. “It was really fun to have my whole family and friends here to see him. And it was really fun to have him go into the main ring especially when Ben and I jump in there.”
The build up to the leadline class started earlier in the week when the class was officially announced. “The other night when the start list came out and when we saw his name for the first time, my husband, Ben said: ‘Wow, this is so surreal.” We cried a little bit because it’s so exciting and they grow up fast.”
Ben has Oreo - owned by Double H - at the barn to ride on a daily basis. But his interests remain diverse. “Honestly he loves to drive cars and tractors right now and he loves a pony,” said Sophie. “And whatever makes him happy, I’m happy he does.”
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