Back home in Ireland, helping his younger brother Harry out with his ponies and spending some time with his family – Bertram Allen speaks to World of Showjumping about yesterday’s decision where he was disqualified after winning the Olympia Grand Prix.
Q: What happened when you came out of the ring after the jump-off?
A: I came out of the ring for the mandatory boot check carried out by the FEI steward. She remarked that Quiet Easy had a scratch on his right flank. With a pair of gloves on, the steward examined the scratch. As my horse was sweating, the scratch got smudged out when she touched it – with a bit of blood being left on her gloves. The steward then took a picture of it. She wiped the scratch once, and it was fine. There was no bleeding following the examination.
We went to the stables with Quiet Easy, that was completely fine. A person from the Ground Jury that had been called for by the FEI Steward, came to have a look at it and said that he did not think that they would give me a yellow card – but that he was unsure what would happen.
I got ready for the prize giving, and watched Michael ride on the screen. When Michael came over to congratulate me on my win, it was announced over the loud speaker that he was the winner. That is how I was told that I did not win, or rather that I was disqualified – it was quite unbelievable.
Q: How did you handle the situation from there?
A: I went to try to speak with some of the officials, but nobody could – or wanted to – answer why I was disqualified. The steward in question said it had nothing to do with her, and like the others did not want to give any answers.
I asked one of the members of the Ground Jury to come see the horse in the collecting ring, but by then there was quite a high temperature there so nobody wanted to come over and take a look for themselves. Steve Guerdat tried to come and talk with the officials, and was great, but nothing came of it.
They had decided I had spurred the horse, and there was no talking between me and the Ground Jury. At this point I had the feeling that the Ground Jury perhaps was thinking that their decision was too harsh, something they could also tell from the reactions coming from the riders in the warm-up – but it was too late.
Q: Was there not any kind of official meeting between you and the members of the Ground Jury, where you were heard and informed about their decision and your opportunities to appeal?
Q: After the rejection of your appeal last night, will you follow up on this any further?
A: I have not decided yet, but I think I will leave it here. When I woke up this morning I was thinking this would be the worst day of my life, and it turned out to be a good one. I have had so much support. I should of course have wished to have been without this, but I feel that this has done the opposite than doing my name any harm.
My horses and their welfare are the most important things for me. I do everything I can to make life easy for them; look at Romanov – he is 18-years-old and on top of his game. I don’t think that would happen if I was not treating my horses right. I feel this has been acknowledged through the support I have gotten today, and that is what counts for me.
Q: How have you experienced the support you have received?
A: I am humbled to see how much support I have had from the riders. It means a lot to be backed up by my colleagues in this way. Also, how others who don’t even know me have stepped up to show their support. It has really been incredible.
Q: There is obviously a big difference here in how the riders see the matter, and how the FEI officials see it – any comments on this?
A: Something has to be changed, we can not have situations like this. Either the rules have to be looked at, or how they are applied. Right now, there is also an atmosphere that we are against each other – that is not how it should be. We should all work together for the welfare of our horses.
Text © World of Showjumping // Picture © Jenny Abrahamsson
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