Wellington, Fla.—Feb. 2
Ben Maher has been itching to return to the show ring since his last competition in December. While his top dogs remain on vacation following a jam-packed 2018 season, Maher, who rides for Great Britain, plans to develop his up-and-coming string during the winter circuit. The list of which includes Cirus Du Ruisseau Z, the 9-year-old Zangershide gelding (Chellano Z—Cadence Du Ruisseau Z, Carthago Z) he rode to victory in the $71,200 NetJets Classic at the CP Palm Beach Masters.
“Cirus is pretty new to this level, but he is a very fast horse,” said Maher, who has been riding the Poden Farms-owned horse since last fall. “Although they’re sponsors for today, the NetJets double was quite a hard combination to jump, so I made sure not to go too fast earlier on to get the double out of the way and then tried to go as fast as I could around the finish half of the course. The jumps just came up right.”
Twenty-three took to Alan Wade’s course, and Maher was one of seven to return for the jump-off.
“Cirus has a great character; he’s a trier,” said Maher, who crossed the timers in a winning 44.82 seconds. “He’s being produced, and in the end will probably move to Emily Moffitt, but he’s really an easy horse. He loves to do his job; he’s naturally fast, [and] he’s a pleasure in the stable. I promised him a day off tomorrow, and he can go in the field if he jumped a clear round in the jump-off, so my groom will make sure that I hold my word to that.”
Conor Swail and 13-year-old SLS stallion Rubens LS La Silla narrowly missed out on first place. They finished in 44.96 seconds.
“I was very happy with how the round went,” said Swail. “[Rubens] is sort of more scopey and [has] more of a slower canter, so it’s much more difficult when you’re up against these guys on quicker-stepped horses.”
Rubens has been on break since November 2018, with the Masters being his first Fédération Equestre Internationale-competition in the new year.
“He had a very successful last year with me,” Swail said, “and I was delighted with how he went. [I] thought the round went well.”
Third place saw a two-way tie between Egypt’s Nayel Nassar and Luciver V, and the United States’ Eve Jobs and Venue d’Fees Des Hazalles, who crossed the timers in 45.04 seconds.
We’re on site at the Longines Palm Beach Masters CSI4*-W all weekend to bring you news, photos and results. Check back all weekend for more!