Allen secures spot in showjumping's World Cup final
In a watershed day for Irish showjumping yesterday, 19-year-old Bertram Allen qualified for the 2015 World Cup final and 45-year-old Jessica Kuerten made her last appearance in international competition.
Both riders lined out in the World Cup qualifier at Zurich along with Billy Twomey and Denis Lynch, and before the competition began, the Organising Committee made a special presentation to the Cullybackey-born Irishwoman who, at the zenith of her career in 2008, was ranked No2 in the world.
Often outspoken and never shy of controversy, Kuerten's alliance with the horses of Lady Georgina Forbes, and especially the brilliant mare Castle Forbes Libertina with which she finished second at the World Cup Final in Kuala Lumpur in 2006, ensured her place at the top of the sport. However, the business partnership fell apart in January 2011, and her career never recovered.
With Bonita, she was a member of the very first Irish team to win gold for Ireland at the European Showjumping Championships in Arnhem, Holland in 2001.
Yesterday, however, the rider whose nickname is Goldilocks went out in the first round of the World Cup competition with two fences down with Arezzo VDL.
But Allen and the brilliant little mare Molly Malone, who earned seventh place at last year's World Equestrian Games before winning the fourth leg of the World Cup series at Verona in Italy last November, jumped clear to go into the seven-horse jump-off.
Third against the clock, he set a a super-fast target in 39.48 seconds, but second last to go, Spain's Sergio Alvarez Moya and Carlo, pinned him back to runner-up spot when less than a tenth of a second quicker.
However, the result has rocketed Allen, winner of the Irish Independent Young Sports Star of the Year Award for 2014 and currently ranked 15th in the world, up to third place in the Western European League World Cup standings.