January 24, 2021 – Wellington, FL – It was a thrilling finish for the final day of the second week of FEI competition at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) as Olympic team gold medalist Ben Maher (GBR) and the 18-year-old stallion Tic Tac, owned by Jane Forbes Clark, edged the competition by just one one-hundredth of a second to take top honors in the $137,000 Restylane Grand Prix CSI3* on Sunday, January 24.
On the derby field at Equestrian Village, a total of 45 entries entered the ring to tackle the course designed by Oscar Soberon (USA) with 12 qualifying to return for the jump-off. Maher executed the track flawlessly aboard the SBS stallion by Clinton x Panama Du Seigneur, leaving all eight obstacles in their cups to secure the win in a blistering time of 43.56 seconds, just one one-hundredth of a second ahead of Canada’s Eric Lamaze.
“It was my lucky day, and sometimes it just happens like that,” he said with a big smile. “Eric is one of the fastest riders in the world, and he was on a great horse, so I think I had the luck of the draw. I was also on an experienced horse. Tic Tac is 18 and doesn’t come out very often, but he gives me great confidence and he did everything right for me today.”
It certainly came down to the wire with some of the world’s best riders giving the shortened course their best shot. Olympic gold medalist Lamaze also had a veteran partner for the test, finishing a close second aboard 18-year-old Fine Lady 5 for Artisan Farms and Little Creek Investments, in a time of 43.57 seconds.
“Fine Lady is naturally very fast,” said Lamaze. “I’ve had a few classes where we went too fast and paid for it, and I asked myself, ‘Why did I go so fast?’ I was trying to keep a good rhythm. I knew who was coming behind me; Ben is one of the best riders in the world. I knew I rode a fast course.”
Rounding out the top three was another rider known to be quite speedy, Conor Swail (IRL), with 13-year-old Holsteiner mare GK Coco Chanel for Vanessa Mannix. The pair gave it a solid try, keeping all the jumps up in a time of 44.04 seconds to slide into third place.
“I thought the track was good today,” said Swail. “It was a little different from some of the other competitions we’ve been jumping in, less numbers down the lines, but it was creative, and we got a very good result. It wasn’t huge, but it was challenging, so I have to give the course builder credit for that!”
Like many of the riders competing this week, Maher spoke highly of the opportunity to jump on the stunning derby field, noting the change of scenery from the International Arena at PBIEC as a great way to keep the horses fresh through a lengthy competition schedule.
“For me, the grass arena here is one of the best grass arenas there is in the world,” he said. “That’s why I picked this week to bring a horse of Tic Tac’s age over here. They’re great conditions. I thought it was a great course, and it was nice to see some new jumps out here this year. It’s so refreshing and great to be over here.”
Having already had some success at WEF this winter, including a win in $6,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m Jumpers during WEF 1, Lamaze echoed Maher’s praise of the turf track.
“I think they should have as many competitions out here as they can,” he said. “It is the best footing in the world, the horses love jumping here, and for me that’s real show jumping out there. We appreciate all of the effort that is made to keep us safe from COVID. These are difficult times, so we should all be grateful for that.”
Competition continues next week at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) as part of 13 weeks of show jumping at the WEF. The schedule is jam packed with a stellar roster of classes including the Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Jumpers on Wednesday, the Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m Jumpers on Thursday, Friday’s $37,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 3, the CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic on Saturday, and the $137,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI3* to wrap up the week on Sunday afternoon. Spectators can watch all the feature classes for free on the livestream.
Final Results: $137,000 Restylane Grand Prix CSI3*
1. TIC TAC: 2003 SBS stallion by Clinton x Panama Du Seigneur
BEN MAHER (GBR), Jane Forbes Clark: 0/0/43.56
2. FINE LADY 5: 2003 Hanoverian mare by Forsyth x Drosselklang II
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms and Little Creek Investments: 0/0/43.57
3. GK COCO CHANEL: 2008 Holsteiner gelding by Clarimo x Lerano 2
CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Vanessa Mannix: 0/0/44.04
4. GOLDWIN: 2012 BWP gelding by Emrald x Divine Idylle GTW De Tinmont
LAURA KRAUT (USA), Stars and Stripes: 0/0/44.64
5. CHACNA: 2007 Hanoverian mare by Chacco-Blue x Narew XX
ENRIQUE GONZALEZ (MEX), Enrique Gonzalez: 0/0/45.38
6. AKUNA MATTATA: 2008 Holsteiner mare by Quinar x Landwind II
NICOLE SHAHINIAN-SIMPSON (USA), Silver Raven Farms: 0/0/46.20
7. COCOLINA: 2011 Oldenburg mare by Conthargos x Carolina
NATALIE DEAN (USA), Marigold Sporthorses, LLC: 0/0/46.53
8. EMMERTON: 2009 KWPN gelding by Silvio I x Artuna
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), SHL Farm: 0/0/46.65
9. ZAIA DI SAN GIOVANNI: 2009 mare by Cornet Obolensky
MAC CONE (CAN), Chadburn Holdings, Inc: 0/0/49.02
10. COLESTINA H: 2010 German Sport Horse mare by Colestus x Cardenio 2
DANIEL BLUMAN (ISR), Blue Star Investments: 0/4/45.52
11. CADIZ: 2010 KWPN gelding by Vigo D’arsouilles x Bardesther
CIAN O’CONNOR (IRL), Ronnoco Jump Ltd: 0/4/48.49
12. KAMILLA D: 2011 SCSL mare by Kashmir von Schuttershof x Canturo*Bois Margot
ERYNN BALLARD (CAN), Erynn Ballard: 0/4/48.55