Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
Ben Maher (GBR) wiped the floor with the opposition after a stunning win in the CSI5* Prix Constance Prince Maurice Trophée MTPA comtant pour Generali FFE French Tour. As the picture perfect sunshine started to give way to twilight, Ben and his fiery chestnut gelding Aristo Z cleared the field by a full three seconds in the 1.45m class, which fielded 72 starters with many of the top riders competing with two horses.
Following the galloping grass arenas of Mexico City, Hamburg, Madrid and Chantilly, the leading horse and rider combinations were faced with a new challenge with the intimate LGCT Cannes sand arena, measuring 75m x 55m in total, best suited to horses quick on their feet and agile in their turns. Ben and Aristo Z have performed well here in the past, with the pair well suited to fast sand arenas.
Uliano Vezzani’s 1.45m course made full use of the arena, with opportunities for tight cut-backs, and enough space to pick up a galloping pace between fences. The liverpool caused a few problems for many of the world class combinations, as did the final fence – a light vertical which caught many off guard as they galloped for home.
Pius Schwizer (SUI) and Balou Rubin R took second place, with the bigger striding 9 year old dark bay gelding unable to match the pace of Ben’s Aristo. Compatriot Jane Richard Philips (SUI) took a strong third with Dieudonne de Guldenboom, and Laura Kraut (USA) took fourth with her young 9 year old grey Confu. Audrey Coulter (USA) was just tenths of a second behind in 5th with Alex, and Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) rounded out the top six with his 11 year old bay mare VDL Groep Arera C.
But it was Ben who masterfully guided his hot chestnut gelding around the course, making full use of Aristo’s speed and scope to jump clear in an impressive 52.62s and claiming the lion’s share of the prize money.