Ireland’s Bertram Allen claimed a resounding victory in the $210,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Toronto on Nov. 9 in front of a full house to close out the Royal Horse Show, held as part of the 97th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto (Ontario).
Canadian course designer and Olympic individual silver medalist Michel Vaillancourt set a course that challenged some of the world’s best show jumping athletes and their horses in the sold-out Coca-Cola Coliseum, which was packed to maximum capacity with a crowd of 6,631 in attendance. Four riders jumped clear to advance to the jump-off and Allen, 24, was the last to go. He and GK Casper stopped the timers in 34.70 seconds to overtake Belgium’s Jos Verlooy, 23, who had turned in a time of 35.41 seconds aboard Igor.
“That’s what it’s all about. Everyone wants to win the grand prix, last to go, in front of a full house. It was one that I really wasn’t expecting, so it made it all the more sweet,” said a delighted Allen.
“I was struggling a bit in the first round—all week to be honest,” Allen explained. “He went in on the first day [of the competition], and he was very spooky. He wasn’t supposed to come here as my [top] horse, as I was meant to take another one, and he had to step up a bit. I knew if I got the first round behind me, I wouldn’t have to worry about the jumps as much in the second round. I could really give it a lash.
“He’s always been a fantastic jumper, but it has taken him longer to get to this height,” said Allen of his 11-year-old Holsteiner stallion (Canto 16—Quantum) owned by Ballywalter Farm. “Most horses start their first season off doing this at about 9, but this is his first season now.”
“The atmosphere is incredible at this show, and that gives you extra motivation to do well,” said Verlooy, who won team gold and individual bronze medals at the 2019 European Championships earlier this year with Igor. “At the beginning of the year, I called Bertram, and I said, ‘Let’s do a tour in America.’ I actually regret it now!”
Taking third on the podium, 18-year-old Brian Moggre was the first rider to jump clear in the opening round and again set the standard by jumping clear in the jump-off riding MTM Vivre Le Reve, a 10-year-old Westphalian gelding (Ustinov—Chellana) owned by Major Wager LLC. Hot off his victory one week ago in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Lexington, his time of 35.83 seconds landed him in third place in Toronto.
“Toronto is a spectacular city and this horse show is incredible,” said Moggre, who hails from Flower Mound, Texas. “When I got the first email saying that I was on the wait list, I was hoping every day that I was going to get in. This is a wonderful show that I would love to be invited back to. My horses seem to like it as well. It is my last show of 2019 and last show of my junior career. It was very special to do that here, and it meant a lot to me and to everybody on my team to be invited here.”
The fourth rider to qualify for the jump-off, 2012 Olympic team gold medalist Ben Maher, 34, piloted Tic Tac to fourth place for owner Jane Clark with a clear round in a time of 36.32 seconds. Rounding out the top five, Rowan Willis, 39, of Australia and Blue Movie posted the fasted 4-fault performance in the opening round to edge out Eric Lamaze, 51. The 2008 Canadian Olympic Champion had a heartbreaking rail at the final fence for sixth place riding Chacco Kid for the Chacco Kid Group.