(CNN)Ben Maher finished the Longines Global Champions Tour season in style with double victory in Qatar.
“Just can’t quite take it in to be honest,” Maher told LGCT television after racing to his fourth individual win of the season in a nine-horse jump-off in 35.50 seconds.
“Everytime I go on him, he fills you with so much confidence that you can do anything,” said Maher, who also won in Madrid, Saint Tropez and Rome. “He believes in me, and I believe in him. And he makes things that should be impossible, possible.”
Having finished 2017 at a career-best 14th spot in the overall LGCT classification, Maher and Explosion W, a nine-year-old Dutch warmblood gelding, have been the standout combination of 2018, securing the overall championship with their third win of the season in Rome in September.
Their success is all the more remarkable because the pair didn’t start competing together until Shanghai in April, where they finished in second place.
“Just totally unexpected that he comes to this level so fast,” Maher said. “That is just credit to my team back home and everybody that manages and helps me get here.”
Maher and Explosion W may have beaten Sweden’s Peder Fredericson by 0.84 of a second, and defending overall LGCT winner Harrie Smolders of the Netherlands by 1.44 second, the 2012 Olympic champion wasn’t happy with his ride.
“The jump-off didn’t go quite to plan, planning to do one less stride to the second fence, which wasn’t there, and I felt like I wasn’t quick in places, but he’s naturally so fast everywhere” Maher said.
He paid tribute to his small yet energetic horse, who is still relatively young for a top show jumper at nine years of age.
“He is such a fighter,” Maher said. “I have such a good bond with Explosion, created over quite a short space of time. Every time I ride him, I feel like he makes my life so much easier.”
Global Champions League
Earlier Saturday, Maher and Explosion W teamed up with Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts and H&M Chilli Willi to produce two double clear rounds to secure the overall Global Champions League championship for London Knights.
“It was an amazing season with Ben, I think we had four wins together,” Philippaerts told a news conference in Doha. “It was unbelievable. I always went in first to try to do a good job, and he always finished it.”
London Knights finished the 16-leg season atop the leaderboard with 353 points and prize money of €2.4 million. Valkenswaard United ended in second place with 313 points and €1.7 million, followed by Miami Celtics with 269 points and €1.1 million. Rome Gladiators were fourth with 256 points and €720,454 in prize money.
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“Prague is a very different venue,” said Maher. “We have to start again, and keep fighting.”
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