BEN Maher has won the individual gold medal in show jumping at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with Explosion W. He adds it to his team gold medal from London in 2012 and it is Britain’s second individual gold medal in-a-row following Nick Skelton’s 2016 Rio title.
The favourites coming into the competition and the fastest on the opening day, the 12-year-old Chacco Blue-sired gelding was fourth to go in the six-horse jump-off and posted a blistering clear round in 37.85 seconds to go into pole position with two left to go.
Also for the second Olympic Games in-a-row, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson finished with the silver medal aboard All In when clear in 38.02. Bronze went to The Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten with Beauville Z in 38.90 seconds.
All six riders in the jump-off produced a second clear round and Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann finished in the difficult position of fourth with King Edward, ahead of his teammate Malin Baryard-Johnsson with Indiana (40.76). Japan’s Daisuke Fukushima finished sixth with Chanyon.
Maher’s individual medal means Britain have medalled across all three equestrian sports in Tokyo. Explosion W's groom is Cormac Kenny from Co Kilkenny.
Speaking after yesterday's first qualifier, Maher said: "We’ve been waiting a long time and we’ve been edgy to get going. It was a big enough course today and a lot of horses are a little bit spooky, I don’t know whether it’s the new jumps or the lights and I felt that with him. This is my most nervous round of the week. He’s a horse that improves as the rounds go on, so he was having a little look today but he’s naturally a fast horse and he did everything he needed to do."
Ireland’s Cian O’Connor finished joint-seventh. The three-time Olympian was sixth into the arena with the beautiful nine-year-old grey gelding Kilkenny (Cardento x Guidam), owned by Sue Magnier and bred by Sinead Brennan at Mill House Stud in Co Kilkenny.
Cian gave a masterclass of riding over Santiago Varela's big 1.65m track to guide the inexperienced Irish-bred around the biggest course he would have seen to date to just pick up a single time fault, to finish joint-seventh with Britain’s Scott Brash and Jefferson, also 0.45 of second over the time allowed.
Bertram Allen finished 15th overall after picking up eight faults with Aiden McGrory’s nine-year-old gelding Pacino Amiro (Pacino x NC Amiro), bred by Simon Scott. The pair got a difficult stride to the big treble combination and knocked the first part before doing very well to get out over the next two parts. They also knocked the Mount Fuji vertical three from home.
Darragh Kenny was second last into the arena with Heathfarm Farm’s VDL Cartello but was out of luck when picking up eight faults, first at the second part of the double and at the verticle following the open water, to place 17th in the final.
MORE TO FOLLOW.