BEATING 152 other competitors, young Wexford rider Bertram Allen set Irish hopes high today (Tuesday) when he claimed first place in the opening speed competition of the World Equestrian Games’s show jumping element at Caen in France.
Putting up a mature performance aboard the 10-year-old grey mare Molly Malone V, 19 year-old Allen, who won the Grand Prix in Dublin last month, scooted over Frederick Cottier’s 14 fence track, cutting corners with precision for a time of 77.01 seconds and pole position.
“It was a good solid round. I didn’t quite expect to be that fast and I’m surprised to be in lead. I didn’t go all out to risk it and this will be a time to be beaten,” said Allen, who went on to compare the pressure of competing at this World Games to Dublin. “This is a whole new level again,” he added.
Allen left older and far more seasoned riders trailing in his wake, including French heroine Penelope LePrevost, who flew around the track with her big jumping chestnut mare Flora De Mariposa for a time of 77.82 and eventual sixth place. Four other top international riders all stopped the clock on the same second as the Irish rider, but none could quite erase his lead.
With optimism high, and clear rounds from his team-mates Darragh Kenny, Cameron Hanley and Denis Lynch, Allen and Molly Malone now face into the two-day marathon of the Nations’ Cup at the d’Ornano Stadium, pitting their skills against 34 other teams.
Points gained today will aid both team and individual scores for Ireland. The top five teams at the end of the games in Normandy automatically qualify for a place at the Rio Olympics.
Bertram Allen and Molly Malone in action today at Caen