Allen's upward spiral set to continue after World third
Bertram Allen has confirmed his status as one of international showjumping's hottest properties after his superb third-place finish at the Longines FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas on Sunday.
The Wexford native looks much younger than his 19 years, but his composure and total commitment reflect an unusually mature mindset for his age. The success that has rocketed him up to No 10 in the world rankings hasn't come about by accident.
He was only 16 when he left Ireland for Germany in order to access the mainstream sport across Europe and train with some of the best. He's been based at the farm formerly owned by Jessica Kuerten in Hunxe for the last few years, and one of his near neighbours is three-time World Cup champion Marcus Ehning, considered one of the great stylists of the modern sport.
British-based Irish team member Billy Twomey has been a big influence, as has Ehning who occasionally coaches him. And Judy Reynolds, the Kildare-born dressage rider who has also been climbing up the ranks in recent times, sometimes helps Allen with his riding on the flat.
He gave some indication about what was to come when winning individual gold at the European Pony championships in 2010 and, two years later, was a member of the European gold medal-winning team at Junior level. In 2013, now riding the mare Molly Malone - with whom he would strike up the partnership that would bring him to the very top - he claimed Junior European individual silver.
And then, having won the Grand Prix at Dublin Horse Show a few weeks earlier, he exploded onto big stage by winning the opening class at last year's World Equestrian Games in Caen where he eventually finished seventh.
He did it again in Las Vegas last week, stunning the noisy crowd with the blistering speed that won the opening competition. And although a single mistake the following day prevented him from qualifying for the jump-off, he was only a single penalty point behind the joint-leaders going into Sunday's decider.
He had a fence down in each round over two more tracks that the world's best horses found difficult. In the end it was mere seconds on the clock that put him into third behind France's Penelope Leprevost on the same score. Olympic champion Steve Guerdat, who took the title, was nearly forced into a jump-off against Allen and Leprevost when hitting two fences second time out and only barely made it through the finish in time.
During the following press conference, Allen wasn't allowed to share the celebratory champagne because of the over 21s alcohol restriction in Las Vegas. When he comes into the showjumping ring, however, there's nothing to stop him and his brilliant grey mare beating the best in the world. The pair are now targeting this summer's European Championships in Aachen where they will hope to help the Irish team qualify for the Rio Olympics.