Last year, Ben Maher was at home, nursing a case of FOMO, as he watched the Nations Cup unfold at the Spruce Meadows Masters Tournament when a horse caught his eye.

Exit Remo, a 13-year-old gelding campaigning under Patrick Lemmen, jumped 0 and 4, helping the Netherland’s to a third place finish. Within a matter of months, he was in Maher’s stable.

“I was at home watching, wanting to be [at the Masters], and we were looking for a horse with a bit more experience, so we bought him just after Spruce Meadows,” shared the Olympic team gold medalist.

At the time, Maher thought he was getting a well-traveled campaigner. The Dutch warmblood had shown internationally under no fewer than nine different riders between 2015 and 2021, but had never jumped higher than 1.45m when he found his way to Lemmen in 2021.

In the space of a year, they were jumping 1.60m. In 2022, Exit Remo contested three 5* Nations Cup classes for the Dutch, jumping to a 33% clear round and 67% top 10 finish average at 1.60m (Jumpr App). They were 4/4 in the Nations Cup in Falsterbo in July that year, helping the team to a second place finish. In August, they were 4/0 in Dublin to finish fourth.

With consistency like that, Maher would be forgiven for assuming the gelding was an unflappable been-there-seen-that type. But that wasn’t quite what he ended up with in the stable.

“I thought he was an older, sort of worldly, horse, but actually he’s sensitive,” Maher explained.

“He gets confidence from a [forward] round [at a lower height] and he really grows into himself [over the week]. So it wasn’t quite the horse that I thought he was in the beginning. He has that sensitive side. But he’s a very easy horse to handle. He goes in a snaffle and he makes my life easy.”

Easy is what the pair made of the international ring on Wednesday at the iconic Calgary venue. This week, Maher is back in the ring at Spruce Meadows and he’s wasted no time making his presence known. With Exit Remo, one of three horses he has in the five star division, he bested a field of 42 to captured the first 5* class of the week with the TELUS Cup 1.50m.

Fifteen combinations advanced to the jump off in the Leopoldo Palacios (VEN) designed course. Maher and the now 14-year-old black gelding were the only pair to come in under the 40 second mark.

Trusting his eye and his mount, Maher shaved nearly a second off Denis Lynch (IRL) and Brooklyn Height’s leading time of 40.82 seconds to stop the clock at 39.98, relegating the Irishman to second. Conor Swail (IRL) and Theo 160 took third in 41.09.

“I’ve learned at other venues that if you watch the screen [at the back gate], it doesn’t look as fast as what it is in real life. So I made sure I got up to the tunnel early just to get a gauge on the one that was before me and to try and read the times a bit,” said Maher.

“Spruce Meadows is a different venue. It’s a lot of running and jumping and you can really use your stride and attack the course and it suited Remo today. So I was just the right side of the time.”

Clear rounds have only gotten more consistent for the gelding since Maher took over the reins. In ten months together, Exit Remo is jumping clear at a 50% tick at both 1.50m and 1.60m and 83% at 1.40m and 1.45m—his highest averages to date, according to Jumpr App.

In their two Nations Cup appearances, the pair helped the Brits to the win in Hickstead in July with a 0/4 performance and to a third place finishes in Brussels in August on 1/0. This week, they’ll contest the Nations Cup at Spruce Meadows.

“I trusted him and myself [today],” said Maher, “and for every rider, to get a win under your belt it gives you confidence for the rest of the week.”

Maher also finished fourth on Enjeu de Grisien.