Olympic champion Ben Maher admitted his ride Cella made life extremely easy for him as he got both his personal campaign and Britain’s off to a fine start at the European Jumping Championships.
Maher, who won Olympic team gold with Peter Charles, Scott Brash and Nick Skelton at London 2012 last summer, produced a brilliant clear round with Cella to win to win the speed class in Denmark.
The 30-year-old and Cella posted a time of 76.31seconds for first place just ahead of Olympic individual champion from London 2012 Steve Guerdat and France’s Roger Yves Bost.
Maher’s efforts also helped Britain into second overall in the team standings behind France with teammates Brash placing 14th with Hello Sanctos, Michael Whitaker 38th with Viking and Will Funnell 52nd with Billy Congo out of a 78-strong field.
The speed class marks the first leg of the European Championships and counts towards the team and individual medals and Maher admitted he couldn’t have asked for more from anyone in Herning.
“From experience I knew you had to be quick on the first day and I took a few risks. She’s naturally a very fast horse and she jumped pretty special over those first few jumps,” said Maher.
"I took a few risks, it was no use to be clear with a mediocre time, better to be really fast and get four faults, now she jumped clear with a fast time, Cella is naturally a really fast horse.
“Actually I let her run a bit and so she did, jumped well and did most of the work for me. I decided to make a plan to go quickly and she felt phenomenal jumping the first three jumps, so I just steered her around basically.
"I am where I need to be. It is a difficult day to judge. You are certainly not going to win it on the first day, but you can be in a good position or it can all go wrong. It is a long week.”
© Sportsbeat 2013