Bertram Allen on course for Las Vegas jackpot
In recent weeks Irish show jumping has suffered a serious of setbacks with the retirement of Jessica Kurten and the loss of Cameron Hanley's top horses to a Swiss-based rider.
However, the impressive performances of young Irish rider Bertram Allen of late has given the sport some positive news as the 19-year-old has now qualified to represent Ireland at the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Las Vegas in April.
Ironically, Allen secured the slot during the recent qualifier in Zurich, where Kurten hung up her boots after an illustrious career.
The Northern native announced last month that she would be taking a break from riding to concentrate on training.
Kurten made her final appearance in the same World Cup qualifier, after which she was presented with a memento from the organising committee.
Allen was among a group of seven riders to make the cut for the jump-off - he came within one-tenth of a second of winning, only to be beaten on the line by Spain's Sergio Alvarez Moya. "Molly's such a fantastic mare - I'll give her another break, and then we'll start getting ready for Las Vegas," said Allen afterwards.
"It's great to have picked up the points for the final and I'm looking forward to it now."
Allen's runner-up finish pushed him into third place in the Western European League standings on 51 points, one of the highest ever achieved by an Irish rider in the quest for a place at the final.