Great Britain’s Ben Maher and Tic Tac, owned by Maher and Jane Forbes Clark, outran the Americans in a five horse jump-off to capture the $35,000 Sovaro® Palm Beach Masters Qualifier at Deeridge Farms on Friday. Lauren Tisbo (USA) was second on Coriandolo di Ribano and Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) was third on Cristalline.
“This type of venue suits Tic Tac. It’s incredible here. The Jacobs Family is doing a lot to help the sport. We have many arenas like this in Europe, but this really is in my opinion a breath of fresh air to come over here. I think Tic Tac really reacted well to the great grass ring and the nice bright jumps,” said Maher. “It’s been a lean time for me over the last year or so, I haven’t been in this position too often. I’ve had guys around me telling me that I’m getting too old…, but everything went right for me today.”
The challenging Alan Wade-designed course yielded six horse-and-rider combinations for the jump-off out of the field of 57 starters with many incurring time faults as well as a host of four-faulters. Only five participated in the speed round as Jessica Springsteen (USA) elected not to move forward on RMF Swinny du Parc, leaving her in sixth position.
Sternlicht was the first of the five to go in the jump-off and set the mark on Cristalline, owned by Starlight Farms 1 LLC, with a double clear to finish in 34.51 seconds.
“If I didn’t go first, I probably would have tried to ride a smoother track, but I am really happy with my horse,” said Sternlicht. “What I am most focused on right now is working on the smoothness of my jump-offs. Last week I was quite quick, but not very smooth or tidy, so I tried to think about those two things today.”
McLain Ward (USA), the reigning Longines FEI World Cup Champion, tried hard to be Sternlicht, his student. However, he and HH Callas had a rail at the Longines oxer to leave them with four faults and fifth place. Tisbo went next on Coriandolo di Ribano and took over the lead with a double clear going a fraction of a second faster finishing at 34.43 seconds with two left to jump.
“My big goal was Sunday, so I was just focused on whatever would benefit him. I focused on a double clear, not so much on the time,” said Tisbo. “I was just really working on a smooth jump-off. He goes so high in the air that I have to make up for it in other places. I couldn’t be happier with him, he went great. Being second is icing on the cake.”
Ali Wolff and Casall, fourth in the jump-off order, gave it a good try going double clear in 35.54 seconds for fourth place, but the afternoon belonged to the 2012 Olympic Team Gold medalist, who was last to go. The atmosphere was tense as Maher mastered the course, shaving off nearly a second on the leader, going double clear in 33.71 seconds for the victory.
“Sometime jump-offs just go right. Every time I turned I picked up the first distance,” said Maher. “Tic Tac’s naturally a fast horse. I was watching on the screen and I think Adrienne’s horse jumps a little higher than mine, which wastes time in the air, but it’s a nice problem to have. He’s a quick horse. He covers the ground and it went our way today.”
As part of at the CP Palm Beach Masters CSI3*-W, Presented by Sovaro®. the Sovaro® PBM qualifier determined the top 40 horse-and-rider combinations that will move on to the $220,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Wellington. Sunday’s main event is one of the final two East Coast qualifiers in the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League to qualify for the 2018 Longines FEI World Cup™ Final in Paris, France in April.