Allen keeps flying Frenchman at bay
Despite setting the target of 77.01sec early on during this morning’s first session, the 19-year-old Irishman doggedly clung on to his lead. Even reigning and former Olympic and European Champions, along with others who are regarded as the greatest show jumpers on the globe, were unable to overtake the time notched up by his speedy 10-year-old grey mare Molly Malone.
The French contingent in the vocal crowd was willing Patrice Delaveau to jump round clear and his stallion Orient Express HDC duly obliged and clocked a fast time to boot at 77.18, but this wasn’t quite good enough for pole position and the home rider had to settle for second.
“The first day is really important and hard," said Delaveau. "After thinking about this championships for months it's a relief that we finally got started.”
Belgian supporters went wild when Gregory Wathelet crossed the finish line on 77.33 aboard the nine-year-old bay stallion Conrad De Hus, the stylish rider cutting the corner early on at fence 2 to set himself up for third.
America’s great Beezie Madden, the penultimate competitor in the ring, turned Cortes C tightly, not least to that purple and white upright at 2, but even she fell short of Allen’s time — by 0.33 of a second — which left her fourth.
Former European Champion and Beijing Olympic individual silver medallist Rolf Goran Bengtsson coaxed a brilliant performance from his bay Holsteiner stallion Casall Ask to occupy fifth for Sweden thanks to stopping the clock on 77.70.
Germany’s Daniel Deusser put another sound round in the clubhouse for Germany with his scopey grey gelding Cornet d’Amour. While the pilot didn’t look to have his pedal to the metal, he took tight lines for a final score of 78.41 for seventh place behind Penelope Leprevost.
“Cornet d’Amour loved it He grew 5cm when entering the arena,” said Deusser. “I did nearly miss the first jump and he had to really stretch there but he cooperated well.”
France’s leading lady has slipped to sixth from her morning slot of second aboard Flora De Mariposa due to a clutch of faster performers running this afternoon.
Canada’s Ian Miller, the oldest competitor in the field at 67, showed his younger rivals how Frederick Cottier’s clever course should be jumped. He too took tight lines and ended up with a finishing score of 78.84 for eighth place aboard the Vigo d’Arsouilles son Dixson.
“This was a daunting task and I told Dixson: ‘This is a mountain we have to climb here.’ But a championship always brings out the best in people and horses. That is what makes this competition so remarkable,” said Miller, a 10 times Olympian who is contesting his seventh WEG.
Peder Fredericson slipped to ninth place with H&M Sibon, while Dutchman Jeroen Dubbeldam and Zenith SFN rounded up the top 10.
Leading lights make mistakes
There were a few shocks during this afternoon’s session, the biggest being Olympic Champion Steve Guerdat’s refusal at the first of the rustic planks at 8a with his London gold medal ride Nino Des Buissonnets.
“Normally a double of planks is his specialty. That was a bad day today,” said Guerdat.
The world’s number one pairing, Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos, took out the back rail of the influential oxer at 11, approached off a tight left hand turn. They were on for a top 15 placing but that mistake left them well off the pace in 43rd, the sole fault from Britain’s quartet of riders. Brash has been suffering from food poisoning, but admitted that he had felt better this morning.
Of his mistake he said: “That was my fault. I asked him too early and he touched the back rail."
Team GB has come to Normandy without Ben Maher, whose Cella incurred an overreach shortly before she was due to travel.
“To loose Ben Maher and Cella is a pity," said Maher. "They are one of the best combinations in the world. But we all go on and do our job and this was a good start.”
Kent Farrington, the first of the afternoon session’s ‘stars’, was on target to trounce the Irish leader but his bay gelding Voyeur tapped the back rail on that ‘bogey’ oxer too for an extra 4sec to add to his showstopping time of 77.02.
Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano and his consistent mare Cocoshynsky stopped the clock at 78.17 but that oxer at 11, as well as the pink poles at 12, were already on the floor.
Pieter Devos and his classy Dream Of India Greenfield would have entered the top 10 but for dislodging the upright planks at 8a, while Morocco’s Abdelkebir Ouaddar and his spirited stallion Quickly De Kreisker were the fastest of the day (75.84), and they drew gasps from the crowd for their speedy efforts. Sadly a foot in the water denied them victory but they still finished 13th with 79.84.
France’s Kevin Staut and Reveur De Hurtebise HDC stopped the clock on 77.24 but they had four to add with a shock pole down at the white and blue oxer at 6.
This session proved to be slightly less dramatic than the morning’s had been, although Morocco’s Hassan Jabri did manage to demolish the final Rolex green and yellow oxer, his horse Loxy De La Reselle CH ploughing through it, leaving his jockey perched precariously around his ears. Fortunately as the dark bay cantered through the finish he managed to push himself back into the plate to avoid elimination. Save of the day!
Mexico’s Marlon Modolo Zanotelli’s Ad Clouwni became airborne a mile away from the water but the brave chestnut managed to clear the tape to improve Brazil’s fortunes from this morning when Doda de Miranda was eliminated.
America’s Lucy Davis was almost dislodged from the plate when Barron dived through the wall at 5, his stylish jockey doing well to regain the chestnut’s concentration for the rest of the round, which was clear.
“He shot out to the left and I came off the line and then we were lost," said Davis. “It was a case of miscommunication. But he is such a brave horse to crash through a wall and still keep going.”
Top 5 results First Jumping Competition
- Bertram Allen (IRL)/ Molly Malone V – 77.01
- Patrice Delaveau (FRA)/ Orient Express HDC – 77.18
- Gregory Wathelet (BEL)/ Conrad De Hus – 77.33
- Beezie Madden (USA)/ Cortes C – 77.34
- Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (SWE)/ Casall Ask – 77.70
CLICK HERE for more results from the Jumping at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games