Ireland's 19 year old sensation Bertram Allen attacked in Tuesday's first competition at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, and has taken the individual lead in the championships on Molly Malone V (Kannan x Cavalier). Allen has gone from strength to strength with the 10 year old mare this season, and started off his outdoor campaign by winning the Longines Grand Prix in Lummen in May and then closing it off with another Longines Grand Prix win in Dublin in August – which also gave the German-based rider a ticket for the World Championships.
The competition was build up to 1.50, and was run as a table C, which means that any faults on the fences will be converted into time. Four faults for a rail equals four faults in additional time, which opens up for taking risks. It was not the biggest track that French course designer Frederic Cottier had set, but it was tricky enough and long – with fourteen fences including three combinations as well as a wall built as Mont St Michel and a huge open water.
Although not too big, the technical aspects and the fence design caused problems for many. It was plenty of action at the d'Ornano stadium in the morning session, with no less than four riders parting ways with their horses – among them was very surprisingly one of Brazil's strongest cards Doda de Miranda as well as Belgium's Jos Verlooy. Two more riders had to bite the dust in the afternoon session as well.
Allen took an early lead as number forty to go. The Irish rider's round rode much faster than it looked – it was obviously efficient and fast, but yet fluent and accurate with Allen using his mare's most important qualities to his advantage as he let her run. Being natural fast, and careful – the Kannan-daughter had no problem coping with the questions asked. Leaving the long fourteen fence track intact, Bertram took over the lead in the time of 77.01.
Home rider Penelope Leprevost really gave Allen a run for his money as she entered the ring as one of the riders in the last group before the break. Aboard the lovely mare Flora de Mariposa (For Pleasure x Power Light), the stylish French rider had the home crowds gasp for every fence she jumped – especially when the chestnut mare put her hind legs in between the poles on the oxer at number six. The pair stayed clear though, and with their fast round in 77.82 they slotted into second behind Allen.
One-hundred-and-three riders in to the class, another popular rider entered the ring to wild cheers from the home crowds: Patrice Delaveau on Orient Express HDC (Quick Star x Le Tot de Semilly). Pushed on by the over-excited audience, Delaveau crossed the finish line on a clean sheet – with his supporters almost exploding as the clock stopped on 77.18, a time good enough to slot in to runner-up position between Allen and Leprevost.
None of those to come could catch up with the top two riders. Closest came Belgium's Gregory Wathelet on the lovely stallion Conrad de Hus (Con Air x Locato) who rode one of his trademark fabulous rounds with perfect turns and rhythm – slotting into third on a time of 77.33. In the end it was Beezie Madden who took fourth position as second last to go on a very well jumping Cortes 'C', while Rolf-Göran Bengtsson finished fith on Casall Ask (Caretino x Lavall I), also these two looked dangerously good today – eventually pushing Leprevost down to sixth position.
Top 5 after the first jumping competition:
1. Bertram Allen (IRL)/ Molly Malone V – 77.01
2. Patrice Delaveau (FRA)/ Orient Express HDC – 77.18
3. Gregory Wathelet (BEL)/ Conrad De Hus – 77.33
4. Beezie Madden (USA)/ Cortes C – 77.34
5. Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (SWE)/ Casall Ask – 77.70
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