Proving that neither laurels to rest upon nor advancing age have dulled them, Tokyo Olympic Games individual gold medalist Ben Maher (Great Britain) reunited with his 19-year-old, U.S.-based partner Tic Tac for a repeat win Sunday in the $140,000 Hygain Feeds Grand Prix CSI3* during Week 2 of the 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival.
Maher and Jane Forbes Clark’s Belgian Sporthorse stallion (Clinton—Panama Du Seigneur, Darco) topped 45 other international contenders on the derby field at Equestrian Village in Wellington, Florida, on Jan. 23. Thirteen combinations jumped clear in the first round over the Oscar Soberon-designed track to return for the jump-off, where Ireland’s Paul O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu went first and immediately put on the pressure with a clean round in 43.88 seconds. O’Shea held onto the lead until Maher and Tic Tac shaved milliseconds off of the Irishman’s time to take the win in 43.52 seconds. It was Maher and Tic Tac’s second win in the event, which they also won in 2021.
“Clearly, he loves the grass field, as he was amazing here last year for me as well,” Maher said. “We are very selective when we show him now because of his age, but he is an amazing horse, and I give a lot of credit to the people who look after him day in and day out to keep him in such top shape.”
The pair reconnected last week after four months apart as Maher is frequently traveling in Europe, and the stallion makes his permanent residence in Wellington.
“We just emphasize keeping him fit and happy and knowing how to pick the right moments for him,” Maher said. “I am very fortunate he has all the experience he does and allowed me to really ride him today, because you have to take a lot of chances to be ahead of Amy [Millar] and Paul [O’Shea].”
O’Shea’s ride was good for second place with the Frank Cunniffe and Machu Picchu Partners LLC’s 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, while Millar took third with Millar Brooke Farm and Overland’s 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding Truman in a time of 43.99 seconds.
Click on the photo below to watch the jump-off round that secured the repeat win for Maher and his 19-year-old partner: