Irish Wonderboy, Bertram Allen, Wins First Round of Longines Final with Molly Malone
Friday, April 17, 2015
Ireland’s Bertram Allen and the brilliant grey mare, Molly Malone, won the opening Speed competition of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015 Final at the Thomas & Mack arena in Las Vegas, USA tonight. With a performance that mirrored his surprise success on the opening day of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy, France last September where he eventually placed individually seventh, the German-based 19-year-old simply left the rest trailing in his wake when going 32nd in the field of 40 starters.
Runners-up were the 2012 FEI World Cup™ Jumping champions, America’s Rich Fellers and the amazing Irish-bred stallion Flexible who, tonight, belied his 19 years of age with a fantastic tour of Anthony d’Ambrosio’s 13-fence track. And there was a divide for third spot when both Patrice Delaveau (Orient Express HDC) from France and Dutchman Jur Vrieling (VDL Zirocco Blue NOP) cleared the line in exactly the same time. Olympic champion, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, lined up fifth with Albfuehren’s Paille while Frenchwoman Penelope Leprevost filled sixth spot following a copybook round with Vagabond de la Pomme.
No Easy Task
The course for tonight’s Speed contest consisted of 13 fences, and in the tight confines of the Thomas & Mack arena it proved no easy task to leave all the poles intact. But another budding young talent, pathfinder 19-year-old Jos Verlooy from Belgium, showed it was perfectly jumpable when setting the standard with a great clear in 68.27 seconds with Domino. The first element of the double at fence five, and the triple combination at fence eight were the bogeys of the evening, but plenty of mistakes were also made elsewhere as riders tried to find the quickest route home. And it was the target set by third-to-go Delaveau, and matched by Vrieling who also cleared the line in 66.44 seconds when 20th into the ring, that they were all chasing right down to the closing stages.
Allen’s round was as exciting as it gets, with breath-taking turns combined with rhythm, balance, accuracy and extraordinary speed. He said afterwards that he didn’t get a perfect stride going into the triple combination but that Molly Malone was very clever there. And the young man who has taken the sport by storm over the last year, and recently moved into the No 10 spot on the Longines world rankings, steadied on the approach to the last. A stride out here would have made him absolutely invincible, but he had the maturity to stick to the plan he had made before going into the ring, and it proved absolutely the right decision as he put the new target of 65.45 seconds onto the scoreboard. He said, “there was a fast eight or a steady nine (strides) there, and I had already decided to go on the nine. I wouldn't have changed that plan even if it meant I was going to be a half-second slower”.
Defending champion, Germany’s Daniel Deusser, was faster with Cornet d’Amour but lowered the very last fence when next to go. Even with the four-second penalty added however, he still slotted into tenth place at the end of the night, and this leaves him well in contention going into tomorrow’s second competition.
Fellers and Flexible then set off at a scorching pace and with the spectators right behind them. The rider from Oregon said afterwards that his stallion’s back is dropping with age, “but it rises up when he hears the crowd - he loves them!” And galloping through the timers in 66.11 seconds he would clinch second place despite the best efforts of the remaining six left to go.
Reflecting on his victory, Allen said afterwards, "I was always going to try to win the class, but for it come off is amazing! I'm very happy with my horse, she jumped super, the atmosphere and the arena were very different but she coped really well with it”. It seems his 11-year-old mare has a naughty side to her nature. Asked to describe her this evening, Allen said, “Molly is quite a strong character and she has her own special ways. She had me worried earlier today because she half ran away with me when I was riding her! But this evening she knew what she had to do and just went in and did it, she always gives her best”.
Fellers insisted he wasn’t surprised to finish so high up the order tonight. “Flexible feels as good as ever and the crowd took four or five years off his age!” But this is a horse who has been written off many times due to injury and illness, and his rider got a bit of a fright earlier in the week. "For the first time in his life he had a little colic issue the other day, it was a bit of a scare, but thanks to my sharp groom it worked out alright. She grabbed the team vet and he did a great job and he (Flexible) seems fine now".
He is looking forward to tomorrow’s competition and the prospect of making it through to Sunday’s decider, but it’s clearly going to be a tough battle all the way. And after tonight, with results converted into points, Allen holds just a slender two-point lead over the American challenger, while Delaveau and Vrieling are just a single point further behind.
For further information on the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2014/2015 in Las Vegas, USA from 15 to 19 April, visit www.worldcuplasvegas.com or contact Press Officer Marty Baumann, email@example.com, +1 508 698 6810.
Result: 1, Molly Malone (Bertram Allen) IRL 65.45; 2, Flexible (Rich Fellers) USA 66.11; Equal 3, Orient Express (Patrice Delaveau) FRA 66.44, VDL Zirocco Blue NOP (Jur Vrieling) NED 66.44; 5, Albfuehren's Paille (Steve Guerdat) SUI 67.09; 6, Vagabond de la Pomme (Penelope Leprevost) FRA 67.57; 7, PSG Future (Martin Fuchs) SUI 68.17; 8, Domino (Jos Verlooy) BEL 68.27; 9, VDL Groep Verdi (Maikel van der Vleuten) NED 68.28; 10, Cornet d'Amour (Daniel Deusser) GER 69.09.
Full result here
Facts and Figures:
19-year-old Bertram Allen from Ireland won the first leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Final in Las Vegas, USA tonight riding Molly Malone.
Runner-up spot went to America's Rich Fellers with the amazing 19-year-old Irish-bred stallion, Flexible, winner of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands in 2012.
2 riders, Patrice Delaveau from France (Orient Express HDC) and The Netherlands' Jur Vrieling (VDL Zirocco Blue NOP) shared third place when clearing the 13-fence course set by Anthony d'Ambrosio in exactly the same time, 66.44 seconds.
A total of 40 horse and rider combinations started in tonight's competition at the end of which the riders' results were converted into points.
Allen heads the leaderboard going into tomorrow evening's second leg which starts at 19.00 local time.
Defending champion and World No. 1, Germany's Daniel Deusser, lies 10th going into the second day of competition.
Bertram Allen IRL: “It was great to do well tonight and get the ball rolling! I didn't want to take too much risk. I wanted to finish in the top five if I could”.
Jur Vrieling NED: "I didn't want to go too crazy in the first round and he (VDL Zirocco Blue) did it really well".
Bertram Allen IRL - talking about what it was like to ride in the Thomas & Mack arena tonight: “the fences are almost on top of the crowd, we are used to extremes in our sport but this is really extreme!”
Patrice Delaveau FRA - "at the beginning of the course it didn't go right between fences three and four so it wasn't the best start and there was a bit of a fight for us to keep it together".
Rich Fellers USA - “Every course for every class is different and it's nice to get in the ring and see how horses respond but the competition tomorrow is not a speed competition so it will require a different strategy.”
Course designer Anthony D'Ambrosio: "the course worked out as I thought it would and it was a great competition for the crowd".