Irish teenager Bertram Allen made an amazing start to his first Longines FEI World Cup jumping final when he won the opening speed leg in Las Vegas this evening.
The 19-year-old’s mount, Ballywalter Farms’ grey mare Molly Malone, seemed to float round the course, just touching the second element of the troublesome double at fence five. Nothing fell, though, and the pair recorded a time of 65.45sec.
“I knew I was going to try and win the class, but for it to come off doesn’t happen every time,” said Bertram. “She jumped super and the atmosphere in the arena is something different so I’m very pleased with her.
“She’s quite a strong character and I’ve had her a long time. She has her own special ways, this morning she was running away with me and I wondered what I was going to do, but this evening she was perfect.”
Designer Anthony D’Ambrosio’s course caused plenty of problems as horses struggled to get to grips with the combination of challenging distances, tight turns and big fences. In the end though there were 11 clear rounds from the 40 starters, with each fence down adding 4sec to a rider’s time.
“The course worked out as I thought and I think it was a good competition for the crowd so I’m pleased with how it went,” said Anthony.
Among the high profile victims were Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander, who retired Fair Light Van T Heike after a refusal at fence three, and Germany’s Marcus Ehning, who had problems in the treble at fence eight with Singular LS La Silla before retiring.
Delaveau sets early target
France’s Patrice Delaveau, who had to withdraw from last year’s final mid-competition when he was sharing top spot, set the early target with Orient Express HDC on 66.44sec. He finished equal third with the Netherlands’ Jur Vrieling.
“The aim is to be within the first seven or eight riders to be well placed for the rest of the competition,” said Patrice.
The home side’s Rich Fellers sits second after recording a time of 66.11sec on Flexible – who, like Bertram, is 19. The horse suffered a bout of colic earlier in the week when his intestine got between his spleen and his kidney, but was back on top form tonight.
“He feels as good as he’s ever felt,” said Rich. “I think the crowd took four or five years off his age — as I came in they cheered and I felt his back, which has been dropping, rise up and off he went.”
Bertram now receives 41 points for his win, with runner-up Rich having 39, third-placed Patrice and Jur 38 and so on in increments of one. Riders will also receive points for their placings in tomorrow’s class, which are then converted into faults for the last leg on Sunday.
Check back on www.horseandhound.co.uk for more updates from the World Cup final. Full reports in H&H out next Thursday (23 April).