Quote of the Week
“He makes things that should be impossible possible.”
—Great Britain’s Ben Maher after winning the final grand prix of the Longines Global Champion Tour's 2018 season aboard the year’s breakout star, Explosion W (more on that below).
Ben Maher & Explosion W in the LGCT Grand Prix of Doha (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT
Maher & the London Knights Claim the GCL Throne
The London Knights have won the 2018 Global Champions League. Valkanswaard United finished second, the Miami Celtics third.
Catch Me Up
It may not have been a foregone conclusion—23 points separated the London Knights from runner-up Valkenswaard United—but in the end, it was indisputable. After two rounds of competition at GCL Doha, the final stop on the regular GCL tour, the London Knights’ top strikers, Ben Maher and Nicola Philippaerts, closed out the year on a zero score and yet another win, taking home the Championship and a cool €2.3 million in prize money for their troubles. The Knights (comprised of Maher, Nicola Philippaerts, Olivier Philippaerts, Martin Fuchs, and Emily Moffitt) have dominated League competition this year, winning an astounding five stops on the 16-leg tour.
From left: Valkenswaard United, the London Knights, the Miami Celtics (c) Stefano Grasso/GCL
Maher the Magician
The London Knights’ dominance this season is thanks to great horses, great riding, and great owners in the form of the Moffitt’s Poden Farms. And of course, the role of Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts and his top stallion, H&M Chilli Willi, cannot be understated. But the glue here is undoubtedly Maher and the 9-year-old KWPN gelding, Explosion W, who’ve won not only multiple GCL legs but three (!) LGCT Grands Prix, counting the LGCT Grand Prix of Doha on Saturday. Maher’s performance this weekend adds the 2018 GCL Championship to his already-stacked resume, which includes his win of the 2018 LGCT Championship ahead of the season’s final leg in Doha. No big deal.
At just nine years old, Explosion W has all the makings of a sporting legend: size, athleticism, and an anaphylactic allergy to wooden rails. He’s found a worthy partner in Maher, who, in less than one year, has helped the already-confident gelding blossom into a full-fledged superstar. All things equal, we’re hedging our bets now: this is the partnership to watch, not only at the Prague Playoffs in December, but in the Olympic medal chase at Tokyo 2020. Wait and see.
If You Can Only Watch One Round…
Watch McLain Go Full McLain in Toronto
Another day, another edge-of-your-seat jump-off performance from McLain Ward and a superstar grey horse (for further reading, check out his championship-clinching round at WEG 2018). This week at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto, it was McLain and HH Gigi’s Girl who pulled out all the stops during this master class in riding you can’t help but appreciate.
**Watch This Space**
Is there an upset coming in the Longines World Rankings?
It’s been seven months since World #1 Harrie Smolders overtook Kent Farrington in the Longines World Rankings, and the Dutch show jumper shows no signs of slowing down. Hot on his heels, however, is none other than individual Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Cup Finals Champion Steve Guerdat, who in the space of one month has closed the gap to 25 points. What will next month bring? (**Grabs popcorn and a cashmere throw.**)
This Just In…
Future of the WEG Is Uncertain According FEI President
Ingmar de Vod began his second term as FEI president with some alarming news about the future of the World Equestrian Games. According to de Vod, size and demand have made the WEG unsustainable to venues, organizers, and participating nations. “We must have the courage to look at the future of our World Championships and ask if the WEG is still the best format,” de Vod said. You can read his full comments here.
Dan Huss & Ms Dreamy’s bridle-less run will bring you to tears.
It was 2018 WEG reining silver medalist Dan Huss & Ms Dreamy’s final act together at the senior reining finals before the mare’s retirement, and the unexpected happened: the pair's bridle broke just moments into their run. The solution? Scoop up the parts and keep right on going! Although Huss was ultimately disqualified for touching the reins with two hands, this is one display of horsemanship that tops any podium. Tissues, please.