World number one Ben Maher wins top showjumping award

I was honoured, last night, to be asked to make the Award to the top Horse and Rider combination of 2012/13 at the British Showjumping annual awards and ball in Birmingham, ahead of the Horse of the Year Show in the NEC.

In my category, no less than three of the four brilliant riders who won Gold for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics in the majestic and, indeed, regal setting of Greenwich.

The perennial English genius, Nick Skelton; the rising, youthful Scottish star Scott Brash; and the debonair, world number one, Ben Maher.

Great Britain's Ben Maher Credit: PA Wire

Ben, and his beautiful grey ‘Cella’ took the honours.

The room was full of rising young stars who canter through the mud and dust , most weekends, on their ponies or their horses.

There were awards for some of them, too, in the regional categories.

But they rubbed shoulders with men and women who have dedicated their lives to one of the most elegant sports in the world.

They, too, started in little, local shows with rosettes and a few bob at stake.

Alastair Stewart pictured with Ben Maher (centre). Credit: Alastair Stewart

They now win gold medals, treasure a-plenty and international prestige.

Last night the young riders met their heroes and shared in the limelight.

Last night I met my heroes and was honoured to honour one of my favourites – Ben Maher.