Maher lands top rider award

Blackpool Citizen: Ben Maher was a gold medal-winner at the 2012 Olympics Ben Maher was a gold medal-winner at the 2012 Olympics

Showjumper Ben Maher has been named leading rider of the year by the British Equestrian Writers' Association.

Maher, a member of Great Britain's London 2012 gold medal-winning team, enjoyed considerable success this year.

He won European team gold and individual silver four months ago, landed the inaugural Global Champions Tour London grand prix and rose to world number one.

Maher received the BEWA Trophy at an awards lunch in London on Wednesday.

There was also success for British Showjumping world class performance manager and Great Britain team boss Rob Hoekstra.

Hoekstra, who won the Liz Dudden Trophy awarded for making a major contribution to equestrian sport, has transformed British showjumping since being appointed in early 2010.

Apart from masterminding major championship medal successes, he has also helped to encourage new owners in the sport, while Britain will end the year with Maher ranked as world number two and his team-mate Scott Brash at number one.

Dressage wonder-horse Valegro, meanwhile, was named horse of the year for the second time in succession.

The recognition came less than 24 hours after Olympic and European dressage champion Charlotte Dujardin guided Valegro to a new world record freestyle score of 93.975 per cent in winning Tuesday night's Reem Acra FEI World Cup class at the London International Horse Show.

Dujardin and Valegro are unbeaten for 20 months, hold Olympic and European titles and all three dressage world records in freestyle, grand prix and grand prix special. They are also the current world number one combination.

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