Bertram Allen has shot into the limelight this season and has got his first senior championship off to a flying start by winning the first round of showjumping at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
It was a huge class, with 153 horses and riders coming forward for this opening competition, which played a part in both team and individual results.
Sent out mid-morning and riding second for his team, Irishman Bertram – who won the Longines Grand Prix at this year’s Dublin Horse Show – produced a time of 77.01sec to take the lead, riding Molly Malone V.
Olympic, World and European champions followed the 19-year-old but no one could better his time. France’s Patrice Delaveau came closest with 77.18sec, riding across the finish line to roars from the home crowd.
“The mare jumped out of her skin,” said Bertram afterwards. “The plan was a good solid round, but she took everything in her stride and we were able to get a great round in. She has quite a bit of experience of going fast against the clock and we know each other well, so we know what we can and can’t do, and we got the measure right today.”
Bertram Allen’s performance helped the Irish team to finish in seventh place so far in the team standings. France, Sweden and the USA currently hold the top three places.
Britain lies 11th out of 33 teams. Pathfinder Michael Whitaker, who brings with him a wealth of experience, was clear on Viking to finish on a time of 85.12sec to go into 42nd.
“I didn’t want to go stupidly fast today, because there’s tomorrow, but I couldn’t have asked for any more,” said Michael. “I wanted to get a solid round in for the team.”
The next two riders to compete for Britain were both making their debut at senior championship level.
Joe Clee, who is based in Belgium, was clear on Utamaro D’Ecaussines in a time of 85.49 seconds, to go 48th. “I’ve had the horse since he was five, now to be here at one of the biggest events in the world and to be representing the country with these riders on the team, it’s great. We’re here and we’re here to do a job,” he said.
Spencer Roe, 21, netted another clear with Wonder Why to finish in 84th place, with 88.12sec. His was the team’s discount score of the day. “It was unbelievable to do a clear round at my first World Games, if you told me a year ago I would be doing this I wouldn’t have believed you,” he said afterwards.
Best in the world
The final rider for Britain was the current world number one Scott Brash with his Olympic horse Hello Sanctos. Here was a rider who was more than capable of rivalling Bertram’s time – but in the end a pole down put them in 43rd place, just one behind Michael Whitaker.
“To be fair it was my fault,” said Scott after his round. “I was a touch too deep on the turn-back and he jumped up and touched the back rail.”
The 28-year-old also gave credit to his team mates, who all produced clear rounds. “The lads have done a great job, three clears is fantastic,” he added.
Today’s scores saw 4sec added to the riders time to give an overall time, which was then converted to penalty points that will be carried forward into tomorrow’s competition.
There will be two further days of team competition before the team medals are determined on Thursday afternoon.
Britain has a combined score of 12.39pen while the leaders France have just 2.08pen to carry forwards. The reigning Olympic and European champions have some work to do if they are to complete the hat-trick of team golds.
Results can be found here.