Perfect birthday present as Allen claims French title
Birthday boy Bertram Allen left a world-class field in his wake when winning yesterday's 5-Star Grand Prix at Dinard in France.
Riding Molly Malone, the grey mare with which he finished third at the World Cup Final in Las Vegas in April, the Wexford rider, who turned 20 on Saturday, produced one of just five first-round clears from a starting field of 43.
Fourth to go against the clock, he pinned 2009 European Champion Kevin Staut in runner-up spot, shaving just under a half-second off the Frenchman's target time.
Although the youngest member of the squad, Allen will spearhead the Irish team in next Friday's Aga Khan Cup at the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show. But he will not be partnering Molly Malone, winner of last year's Longines Grand Prix at the RDS.
Instead, he has opted to ride the 17-year-old stallion, Romanov, with which he made history last month when becoming the youngest-ever rider to win a leg of the high-profile Global Champions Tour in Paris.
"It was a difficult decision for me to bring Molly here and not take her to Dublin next week because it is the most important show of the year for us, but I hope this will be good preparation for the Europeans," Allen said yesterday.
The mare and her rider will be key players in Ireland's final bid for an Olympic team qualifying spot when showjumping gets underway at the European Championships in Aachen, Germany, on August 19.
But next Friday's Aga Khan Cup result is important too, as Ireland need a good show to ensure a place in the Division 1 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup series next season.
Romanov's owner and Allen's former trainer, Billy Twomey, also scored at the French fixture when topping Friday's Speed event with the evergreen 18-year-old, Tinka's Serenade. The mare had returned to top-level competition at Rome in May after an injury break, and Twomey said retirement doesn't suit her.
"She lives for shows and competing", he said of the chestnut, which showed the field a clean pair of heels. Twomey was also fifth with Diaghilev in Saturday's Derby.
At the Royal International Horse Show in Hickstead, Trevor Breen won Thursday's Speed event with Georgie d'Auvray, and was fifth with Oldtown KC in Saturday's Queen's Cup. His brother, Shane, steered Reconnaissance into runner-up spot and fourth place in two Speed classes.