Ben Maher says that “everything has become reality” as he settles into life as Olympic individual showjumping champion.
The 38-year-old British rider produced a dazzling performance under the Tokyo Equestrian Park floodlights four months ago, powering to a stunning Olympic title success aboard aptly-named Explosion W.
It meant that Britain achieved successive individual showjumping gold medals following Nick Skelton’s triumph on Big Star in Rio five years earlier.
And Hertfordshire-based Maher believes it is “a reasonable expectation” that Explosion W could be on the Paris Games start-list in under three years’ time. It would be the rider’s fifth Olympics.
“It has been pretty non-stop, to be honest,” he told the PA news agency.
“We came back and were straight out to competitions and things, but it has sunk in now. Everything has become reality.
“We didn’t really know what happened in the beginning, I guess, but we are now back to normal day-to-day life.
“In one sense, I am relieved it is all over, but obviously, it is also a moment I would like to relive again and again.
“It has been a great year, and when a plan works like that, a lot of credit is due to the team around me to help make that happen.
“He is an incredible horse, and I am just happy that everything went to plan, and there were no hiccups at the last moment.
“I learnt something from every Olympics, and then tried to put that all together. I am happy my time came with Explosion, and definitely my experience helped me get to the finish line this time around.”
GIVE OUR OLYMPIC HEROES THE CELEBRATION THEY DESERVE! Team GB Olympic Medallists to Parade at The London International Horse Show @TeamGB @BritEquestrian https://t.co/wOevRbbrsK pic.twitter.com/fFk2fTVWVG
— The London International Horse Show (@LondonHorseShow) August 24, 2021
Explosion W will make what Maher describes as “celebrity” appearances at The London International Horse Show, which starts on December 16, although he has not ruled out the 12-year-old competing there.
Paris, though, is certainly on the radar, where Maher would match Frenchman Pierre Jonqueres d’Olivia’s current stand-alone feat of two Olympic individual showjumping golds (Helsinki 1952 and Tokyo 1964) if he wins again.
Maher added: “Explosion will be 15 at the next Olympics, so it is a reasonable expectation for him to get to that one, I think.
“We will try to keep his career as long as possible, and only take him out to compete at the right moments to try and make Paris an option.
“But if not, we have other horses in the pipeline coming through. We are very lucky.
“He is naturally a very talented horse. One level down is almost training for him, and I’ve never had a horse like that.
“He knows when the big occasions are, to be honest. I don’t know how that happens – maybe it’s the environment he is in, or the people – but I think like any good athlete, they can kind of rise to the occasion.
“I am really enjoying everything right now, especially when I have a horse like him to ride, and I just try to make the most of it every time I get to go in the ring on him.
“The London International Horse Show is a special show – every rider in the world, I can speak for, wants to jump there.
“I have been lucky enough to win most of the classes there over different years, and I plan to come with a strong team of horses and have a good end to what has been a great year.”
* Tickets are still available to see Ben Maher compete at The London International Horse Show, along with appearances from his gold medal-winning horse Explosion W. For further information and to book visit londonhorseshow.com