Will Explosion W Crown Ben Maher’s Glittering Career
British showjumping have been very fortunate over the past ten years or so to be able to count on the support and talent of Ben Maher. Ben, over his relatively short career (he is still well under 40 years of age,) has been on countless international teams and as an individual representing Great Britain at the very top of world showjumping. He started riding when he was just eight. After school and deciding that horses was going to be his career. He spent time training and learning his craft with Liz Edgar before moving to Switzerland for two years, where he learned a huge amount from Beat Mandli, a very successful rider for Switzerland at international level in his own right.
When he returned back to the UK, it was not long before Ben Maher was in the headlines. He based himself at Quainton Stud in Buckinghamshire under the careful guise of Mike and Emma Phillips who backed him and his career for many years. Ben has many notable rides over the years, his current ride quite possibly his best – the 2019 number one horse in the world rankings, Explosion W. Other horses of note he has ridden with great success is Tripple X III– his London Team Olympic Gold Medal mount.
Ben Maher’s successes are far too numerous to list here, but some of his wins are certainly merit a mention. His first major title was team winner of the European Championships for Young Riders in 2004 on Alfredo. He won the Hickstead Derby riding this horse the following year. Ben was first seen at the Olympic Games in the senior team in 2008 riding his top horse of that time Rolette. It was not till 2011, did Ben have two top world class horses, Robin Hood W and also his most exciting horse to date, Tripple X, his Olympic horse in London 2012. Tripple X was chosen by the selectors to be on the British Team for the European Championships in Madrid where he took Team Bronze Medal in 2011.In 2013, Tripple X won several top classes including the King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead. The video of his victory is shown at the end of this article. At the end of 2013, Ben must have thought his world had collapsed as he was suddenly being sued for £700,000 for making “secret profits” on horses he traded. We make no comment on this suffice to say that Ben lost the ride of Tripple X who went to Canada where the horse’s success rather suddenly dried up. It was rather poignant for Maher however, when at 17 years of age, Tripple X was actually retired at Hickstead last year.
In 2014, Ben had other rides including Diva II. Although none of these were arguably of the calibre of Tripple X, he was still able to win several international classes and be a team member for Great Britain’s Nations Cup. Although, perhaps down but not out, Ben secured the ride on Tic Tac, who was also a winner at international level and who was part of the Great British Showjumping Team at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. Finally, he bounced back with some vengeance when getting the ride on Explosion W in early 2018, a gelding by Chacco Blue out of a Baloubet de Rouet mare; and still, Ben’s top current ride. Such had been the success of Explosion W in the autumn of 2019, Explosion W was reported to be for sale which could have been disastrous for Ben and the whole of the British showjumping team. However, in November it was disclosed that Explosion W had been sold for an undisclosed sum (what a surprise) to an American outfit, Poden Farms. However, the good news was that Ben had been associated with Poden Farms for a few years and that he would keep the rides on the horse in the future and would remain riding for Great Britain. – Relief all round!! Commenting on Explosion W abilities, Ben said “I think he is the most exciting horse I have ever sat on”
Ben Maher became the world ranked number one showjumping rider in August 2013, a position he held for a few months alternating with his team mate Scott Brash. Currently, he is number five in the world. Ben is a very private person, but he was married to a former model Kathleen Baker, a marriage which lasted only 22 months. Following his divorce, he has never re-married. Baker went on to marry Justin Widowson, ironically whose family owed three horses with Nick Skelton including Skelton’s Olympic Championship ride of 2016, Big Star.
Watch the video below of Ben Mahers victory in the King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead in 2013 on Triple X, one of the most prestigious Grand Prix’s in the world, and a trophy incidentally is one of the most valuable – valued at well over 1 million pounds and is kept under constant guard as a result.
click here to open vimeo video
Top image courtesy Daily Express- others Goldeneye Photography