Ireland’s Bertram Allen claimed a resounding victory in the $210,000 Longines FEI Jumping World CupTM Toronto on Saturday night, November 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, ON.
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. When four riders jumped clear to advance to the tie-breaking jump-off, speed became the name of the game and youth shined through. The times became faster and faster until the final challenger, Allen, 24, brought the crowd to its feet with a thrilling jump-off performance riding GK Casper in a time of 34.70 seconds to overtake Belgium’s Jos Verlooy, 23, who had stopped the clock in 35.41 seconds aboard Igor.
“This is a super show,” said Allen, who was making his Royal Horse Show debut. “I didn’t have my best week until tonight, but it all came together. It’s one of the biggest classes that GK Casper has jumped and his first World Cup. It was hard, but I knew if I got the first round behind me, I didn’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,” continued Allen of his 11-year-old Holsteiner stallion (Canto 16 x Quantum) owned by Ballywalter Farm. “Most horses start their first season off doing this at about nine, but this is his first season now.”
In addition to hoisting the Hickstead Trophy, named in memory of Canadian Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze’s legendary mount, awarded for the win, Allen also claimed valuable qualifying points for the 2020 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Las Vegas, NV. Allen, who finished third in the World Cup™ Final when it was last held in Las Vegas in 2015, now has his sights set on a return trip.
Despite giving it his best effort, Verlooy finished second with Igor, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Emerald van’t Ruytershof x Nabab de Reve) owned by Graziella Janssen and Eurohorse.
“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!”
Joking aside, Jos continued, “My horse is a great horse, and I was really looking forward to today. I am very happy with my second place.”
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 x Chellana) owned by Major Wager LLC. Hot off his victory one week ago in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Lexington, the young American’s 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, TX. “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.”