Bertram Allen Speediest in Final Qualifying Leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ NA

Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Posted by Patricia Salem


Cover-1 mb Bertram Allen.jpg

It's another Irish win in North America...

Ireland’s Bertram Allen won the final qualifying leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ competition for the North American League at Ocala on Sunday. Allen and his Belgian Warmblood Harley vd Bisschop had the pole position in a giant jump off of 11 combos, where the leaderboard was a flurry of changes until the final seconds.

Photo - Bertram Allen (IRL) riding Harley vd Bisschop, winners of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™  2021/2022 North American League - Ocala (USA). (FEI/Shannon Brinkman)

Allen’s countryman Daniel Coyle and Legacy took second place. Coyle, who won the event in 2020, took over the lead midway through the jump off but was about a half second behind Allen on time in the end.

Third place went to Germany’s Andre Thieme and his Olympic horse DSP Chakaria.

Irish rider Conor Swail, who recorded victories in three of the eight qualifying legs for the league, finished fourth this weekend with Vital Chance de la Roque.

As the leader in the overall standings for North America, where he’s based, he’s guaranteed to go through to the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals at Leipzig next month.

The course designed by Olaf Peterson had many riders on edge on Sunday, as it was their final chance to see who would secure coveted berths to the Finals. While a few, like Swail, were certain to advance, others wanted the cushion of points to ensure their qualification.

Subtle Course Challenges

The large outdoor arena enclosed a fairly straightforward course, but slight changes in elevation presented subtle challenges, like a downhill into the triple combination that would require a check if a horse had built up too much momentum. A liverpool oxer and fragile wall were also going to catch duos out, and after the first few riders, the time limit of 88 seconds was reduced to 85 seconds.

Up first, American Chole Reid, whose family owns the Live Oak venue and who spent her summer training there, made the track look easy, crossing the beam with Souper Shuttle in 76.22 seconds with no rails down. Once Hyde Moffatt of Canada and Gisborne VDL went clear too, the crowd who filled the stands knew they’d be treated to a jump off.

By the end of the first round, 11 riders were ready to go again for the final honours, and Peterson and his team rebuilt the course with a new set of questions for the pairs.

Daniel Coyle
Daniel Coyle (Photo: FEI/Shannon Brinkman)

Kristen Vanderveen was “super excited” to be both already guaranteed a spot in Leipzig and heading to the jump off. Bull Run’s Risen, her Dutch Warmblood with an enormous stride, was a natural for the jump off course, especially the final gallop to the Longines vertical at the finish.

Follow the Lead

“I love this course,” she said before heading to the warm-up ring. Her strategy was to follow her mount’s lead to “let that pace take me around and be as tidy as I can on the turns and use that stride to my advantage.”

Whilst Vanderveen ultimately had a rail down, as did Reid, Schuyler Riley of the USA (Robin de Ponthaul), American Andrienne Sternlicht (Cristalline), and Santiago Lambre of Brazil (Chacco Blue II), six combos pulled out double clears.

Moffatt laid down a clean time of 43.48 seconds, but the door was open to put on more speed, and American Will Simpson capitalised on that with Chacco P, crossing the beam in 39.45 seconds to take over the lead.

Not to be outdone, Andre Thieme finished in 39.01 seconds, with Chakaria – one of Germany's most popular horses – showing why she helped him win Individual gold and Team silver at the FEI European Championships at Riesenbeck in 2021.

Eager for Repeat

Daniel Coyle was eager for a repeat of his 2020 Ocala victory and finished next in a blistering time of 38.03 seconds. Would anyone remaining be able to overtake him?

Swail couldn’t pull it off, ending his ride in 39.14 seconds, so it all came down to young Bertram Allen. He and his grey gelding executed incredibly tight turns and flew down the last line to finish in 37.67 seconds for the win.

Allen was grateful for his ability to watch a number of his predecessors before his ride, and he knew Coyle was likely to be his greatest nemesis in the sunny Florida heat. “The main thing was don’t lose it anywhere and then go very fast on the last three,” he said of his plan.

Knowing his horse liked the grass, having won a three-star at Wellington on the same footing just a few weeks before, he knew he could go full out and take a chance. “It all came off well today!” he said before heading off to the prize giving ceremony, as his fellow riders tallied points to see who would be going to Leipzig.

Swail ended the NAL season as points leader with 74 points, having won three World Cup events at Vancouver, Sacramento and Fort Worth. Canada's Tiffany Foster finished second with 59 points, with American Natalie Dean third on 41 points.

Ocala competitors Coyle, Holloway, Rowan Willis, Kristen Vanderveen, Margie Engle and Schuyler Riley also punched their tickets to Leipzig. The FEI World Cup™ Finals, featuring Jumping, Dressage and Driving is set for April 6-10, and will be live on FEI TV.