Ben Maher and Dallas Vegas Batilly Claim WEF Challenge Cup Round 7

Ben Maher and Dallas Vegas Batilly Claim WEF Challenge Cup Round 7

British Olympic champion Ben Maher was able to stake his claim on the week 7 round of the Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup riding Dallas Vegas Batilly (breeder: Jean-Claude Viollet) on Thursday at Wellington International’s Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). The Lugano Diamonds-sponsored week brought both five-star and two-star competition back to the International Arena.

Fifty riders took to the two-round course designed by Anthony D'Ambrosio (USA) with 10 advancing to the tie-breaking jump-off. Less than a second separated the top three with Maher piloting “Tilly” – as the mare is called in the barn – to top call. The 11-year-old Selle Français mare (Cap Kennedy x L'Arc de Triomphe*Bois Margot) stopped the clock at 36.03 to pip current leader Andrew Bourns (IRL).

Kent Farrington (USA) and Scott Keach (AUS) tried their best to beat Maher’s time but came up fractions short. Farrington took second aboard Landon in 36.71 second for owner Haity Mc Nerney while Keach claimed third riding Noble de la Chapelle, owned by Southern Cross Equestrian, LLC, in 36.74 seconds

“I’m lucky with Tilly – she has a huge stride, so I was able to get going and make up some time,” said Maher of the mount he owns together with Charlotte Rossetter and Pamela Wright. “It was lucky for me that I stayed ahead today. It’s always difficult to win here [at WEF] whether on Thursday or Saturday night. When you have riders like Kent and Richard [Vogel] coming behind you, it’s never over until it’s over.”

Maher has had the ride on Dallas Vegas Batilly for a year and a half, and they started their career together with a win in the CSI4* NetJets Grand Prix during WEF in 2023.

“She’s been an incredible horse early in her career,” said Maher, 41. “She jumped great in the five-star a couple weeks ago and I felt she was on form, which is why we brought her back this week.

“The horses have come together at the right time, and it really allows me to pick and choose what’s best for them,” continued Maher of his string that’s on top form this season.

When asked about Dallas Vegas Batilly’s personality, Maher noted, “When you’re not on her, my 18-month-old son Cooper can sit on her and she’s the sweetest horse ever. When you’re on her, she has a lot of opinions. I have to be the passenger not the pilot and get her to do things by asking her not telling her. We've come with a great relationship, and I want to bring out the best in her. We saw today that she's a real fighter for me.”

International show jumping competition continues throughout the Lugano Diamonds-sponsored WEF 7 and comes to a peak in the $385,000 Lugano Diamonds CSI5* Grand Prix during ‘Saturday Night Lights’ at Wellington International.