Irish showjumper Bertram Allen, 26, won the $140,000 IDA Development CSI3* grand prix during week six of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) for the second year in a row. He was riding his own Harley VD Bisschop, a 15-year-old gelding he shares with his younger brother Harry.
“It’s great to be a winner any time, but to do it two years in a row, and also last to go, is that little bit sweeter too,” said Bertram.
A field of 45 went to post for the three-star grand prix over a track set by Ana Catalina Harris Cruz of Mexico in the grass-covered derby field, with 15 jumping clear.
Bertram was drawn last of the 14 combinations who progressed to the jump-off and managed to shave over a second from the leading time set by Great Britain’s Olympic gold medallist Ben Maher with relatively new ride Faltic HB, owned by the Oakingham Stud.
“For some reason or other, I don’t always get the nicest jump-offs on Harley,” said Bertram of the Belgian warmblood, by Dulf Van Den Bisschop out of a Coronado mare, who was bought by the Allen family in November 2018.
“I was just going to have my round, and if it all came off, I knew he could be fast enough, but I wasn’t going to force anything. And then right from the start, I caught fence one to two good, the double [combination] good, and just kept going from there.”
Harley was previously ridden at the highest level by Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts, and Bertram has achieved some top placings in five-star classes. Younger brother Harry Allen, 20, first took the reins last year then was reunited with the gelding on a visit to WEF last month.
“My brother rode him at one or two shows at the end of last year, and he’s in Spain now with a lot of the other horses,” explained Bertram. “He came out here [to Wellington] the first week, so I thought it would be nice for him to ride him and see how it’s done over here, because it’s different in Europe. It was a good experience for him, and obviously it didn’t do the horse any harm.”
Bertram also won this grand prix during WEF 2021, riding Castlefield Vegas on that occasion.
Ben Maher finished in the runner-up spot, with Brazil’s Eduardo Pereira De Menezes taking third on H5 Elvaro. Bertram’s countryman Conor Swail took fourth on the 15-year-old Hanoverian Count Me In.
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