Ben Maher boosts Olympic hopes with World Cup win on Tripple X III
Ben Maher gave his Olympic selection hopes a boost with a magnificent World Cup victory at Olympia on Sunday.
The former British number one and his horse Tripple X III defeated a top-class field of London 2012 contenders.
"I don't claim to be an expert breeder, but then I get one that turns out like that," said Maher, in tribute to his champion horse.
"The problem is also that he has got to get experience. He has got to prove he is good enough to make the team."
Maher's place at the Olympics is not guaranteed, with competition coming from the likes of experienced pair Nick Skelton and Michael Whitaker, and Robert Smith and Scott Brash for a place in the Great Britain team.
Maher, 28, lifted the £27,000 first prize after an 11-horse jump-off that included British riders Robert Whitaker (USA Today) and Guy Williams (Titus).
The combination's time of 38.71 seconds sent experienced German challenger Marcus Ehning (Sabrina) into second, with Ireland's Dermott Lennon (Hallmark Elite) third.
The World Cup class is widely regarded as an Olympics dress rehearsal but Maher, who also won the H&M Speed Stakes on Milena on Sunday, believes there is still work to be done.
He said: "Even here, I am changing small things the way I ride. That is an important part of the process between now and next year.
"But this victory is surreal. I am still trying to take it in."