On Sunday afternoon, 51 riders were welcomed to the Grand Prix Stadium for the AIG $500,000 Grand Prix, which is the biggest prize money jumper class in the world this year. Four riders from the first round jumped clear over a challenging course designed by Florencio Hernandez of Mexico City, Mexico. “I was thinking with this course to have five or seven clean. I didn’t want to make it too easy with this prize money, but still keeping it National Standard,” said Hernandez. “I was happy with the four that came back and how the course worked out today.”
Securing the victory in the unprecedented Grand Prix was Ben Maher and EXPLOSION W. This is only the second show that Maher has competed in this year and he stated he was probably a bit more nervous today than he usually is. Maher was just under the 88-second time allowed in the first round as he crossed the timers in 87.793, but nonetheless posted a qualifying ride for the jump-off.
“He [EXPLOSION W] jumped incredible and it had everything in it – a wide oxer, liverpool, the three combinations – and you need a very good horse to be able to jump that and that is why he is so special.” Amanda Derbyshire was the first to jump-off and posted a clear and careful round in 56.343. Maher followed her and rode with confidence as he cleared jump after jump in a commanding 50.985 to take the lead by over five seconds.
“It’s been a quite season and he [EXPLOSION W] had only jumped one Grand Prix earlier in the year. This being the biggest prize money Grand Prix in the world was one of the reasons we decided not to go back to Europe this summer,” said Maher. “The show grounds have been amazing and management and the entire staff couldn’t have been more helpful. It’s my first time here and it’s definitely a place I’ll remember!”
Derbyshire, who finished second in the 2019 edition of the Saugerties $500,000 Grand Prix, hung onto second place with CORNWALL BH. Hunter Holloway, one of the youngest riders in the class, had an unfortunate rail at the combination aboard PEPITA CON SPITA for a four-fault score in 54.670. Last to go in the jump-off, and finishing in fourth place, was Charlie Jayne aboard AMICE Z. Jayne retired partway through his round after a rail at the first fence, saving AMICE Z for another day.source: © ESI/Press Release