The world class combination of Ben Maher (GBR) and Explosion W, owned by Poden Farms, took Rome by storm winning their second LGCT Grand Prix in a row in the Eternal City.
Victory propelled the combination, who won Individual Silver at the European Championships a few weeks ago, into the lead in the overall LGCT Championship ranking in the final sprint to the 2019 Finals in New York later this month.
Thrilled Ben said: “Rome has been a lucky show for me in the last two years and Explosion loves the arena here and with the Italian crowd. It was a big Grand Prix today with not many clear rounds and it was an exciting class to be in. I am very happy and now and I will just enjoy the Grand Prix win and the overall Championship is important.”
Today’s LGCT Grand Prix result also saw Marlon Monolo Zanotelli (BRA) and VDL Edgar M finish second to secure a golden ticket to the LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Playoffs in the O2 Arena in Prague in November.
Ludger Beerbaum (GER) and Cool Feeling delivered two superlative clear rounds in the Stadio Dei Marmi amphitheatre finishing third on the podium. He said: “If I see how Ben has been performing over the last month to two years, it’s not luck or chance he keeps on winning. To be just six tenths of a second behind him it fills me with confidence for my next Grand Prix on this horse. Ben deserved to win. For Uliano to have designed a course like this over two rounds, it is the same as Ben and Explosion, it is exceptional.”
With classic Italian opera filling the arena, the three top finishers took their well-deserved lap of honour after a scintillating afternoon of top sport. Fans had packed the stands and the stone steps around the show ground as the world’s top riders squared up for the 16th leg of the series.
First in Marlon Monolo Zanotelli (BRA) was fast over the Colosseum fence and executed a brilliant tight turn to the Centurion vertical – jumping a superb tactical round. The pair sailed over the final Longines fence clear and stopped the clock in 39.20 as the time to beat.
Ben Maher could see Marlon had left an opening and he took advantage of the extraordinary speed and precision of Explosion W. The combination were up on the time early on. They were already quick with six strides to the Roman coin oxer and powered through the Longines double combination with its significant oxer before an emphatic gallop to the final fence and the finish line into the lead in 38.76.
It was not over as Ludger Beerbaum and Cool Feeling came into the ring bristling with determination. Exhibiting the skill and experience of decades at the top, Ludger ensured a superb turn to the Centurion fence and took six strides to the Roman coin oxer keeping up the momentum over the double. But they were not fast enough at the finish, crossing the line clear in 39.39.
Luca Marziani (ITA) and Tokyo du Soleil gave it their all, inspired by a rousing reception from the crowd but it was a high pressure stage and they had faults at the Roman coin oxer and the double combination – finishing on 12 faults.
Longines Global Champions Tour moves to the French Riviera next week for the 17th leg of the circuit at Ramatuelle / Saint-Tropez.
For full results visit www.globalchampionstour.com