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Explosive Win for Ben Maher in 20th Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final
Saturday, December 11, 2021
The 20th edition of the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final, held at the CHI Geneva lived up to its promise. After two exciting rounds, the victory went to the Olympic Champion pair Ben Maher and his fantastic Explosion W.
After two clear rides of the first three riders, one could almost wonder if this first round didn't seem a little too naturally doable for the ten best riders in the world. Those who thought so, however, had not reckoned with the cleverness of course designer Gérard Lachat, who always comes up with a few subtleties to tempt the riders – and not the horses – into making a mistake. And so Guerdat, Farrington, Brash, Fuchs and Fredricson were all penalised between 4 and 8 points. The chances of a Swiss victory dwindled. Only Henrik von Eckermann and Daniel Deusser also mastered the challenge flawlessly. With four faultless rides, it thus became really exciting again in the second round.
Although Kevin Staut hit the red plank in the first round, he was able to put his competitors under pressure with a fast ride in the second round without any faults. Team Olympic champion Henrik von Eckermann on King Edward took a big risk, but it paid off and the pair finished in 51:16 and with a double clear round. "It is an incredible feeling to ride this horse. I did everything I could, I don't know if it's enough, but I hope that luck is on my side," analysed the Swede after his performance.
A little later, the currently best horse in the world and his Olympic Champion rider contradicted this in a rather explosive manner. Ben Maher and Explosion W finished a course that can just be described as perfect and thus flew towards their first big victory in Geneva. "I was a bit nervous when I entered the course, the level is so extremely high," the Briton summed up. "I tried to be as fast as possible to put a bit of pressure on Jerome Guéry (editor's note: the last starter) and now there's nothing I can do but wait."
The Belgian and the impressive Quel Homme de Hus, who has a not-so-fast stride, had to try everything, but a misunderstanding in the approach to the wall deprived them of the crowning glory of their first appearance in a top-10 final. Nevertheless, it was a good performance by the pair, who finished third on the podium.