Devastated Bertram Allen may take further action

Irish show jumper Bertram Allen last night said he was “devastated’ after winning the grand prix at London’s Olympia, only to be disqualified when a spot of blood was found on the right flank of his mount Quiet Easy.

Devastated Bertram Allen may take further action

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, he stressed his “love” for his horses and he refused to rule out taking further action after an initial appeal was rejected.

“I haven’t decided yet what to do. I will have a look and see what our options are. This is a matter of principle. I love my horses and the last thing I would want to do is harm them in any way,” said Allen.

The Wexford rider said he was “very disappointed at the way the whole thing was handled” and in a statement issued earlier he explained what had happened.

“I am devastated by the decision of the ground jury to eliminate me and my horse. Quiet Easy’s performance was truly outstanding.At some point during my very fast round against the clock, my leg must have slipped giving my horse the tiniest of nicks on his side which bled ever so slightly.

“I totally understand the rules in relation to the treatment of horses in competition, but I’m disappointed that the officials didn’t use any discretion on this occasion.

“The wellbeing of my horses is of paramount importance to me, my family and all our team.

“I am truly humbled by the support I have received from everyone, particularly my fellow riders.”

Twenty-year-old Allen is one of the sport’s most potent talents and currently stands at No6 in the Longines World Rankings.

The German-based rider demonstrated this in Monday night’s grand prix when demolishing a star-studded field with a display that saw him cross the finish line two seconds ahead of British legend Michael Whitaker on Viking.

However, when leaving the arena, the inspecting steward saw some blood and reported it to the ground jury, who disqualified Allen. An appeal of the disqualification was lodged by solicitor Mhairi Alexander and Emma Phillips, the owner of Quiet Easy.

The appeal committee heard from the ground jury, the steward and Alexander, but upheld the decision of the ground jury that Allen was correctly disqualified from the competition.

Allen received tremendous support, not least from Whitaker, who was elevated to first place, but presented the Irish rider with the winner’s rosette and came to his defence.

“Bertram was probably very hard done-by. I would have preferred to have won it in the ring, but I suppose rules are rules and everyone has got to abide by them, but I couldn’t see much wrong.”

Irish Olympic bronze show jumping medallist Cian O’Connor, who also competed in the grand prix, was strident in his criticism of the application of the relevant International Equestrian Federation rule (242.3.1) which says mandatory disqualification applies for “horses bleeding on the flank(s), in the mouth or nose, or [there are] marks indicating excessive use of spurs or whip anywhere on the horse”.

O’Connor said on his Facebook page: “I feel for my team-mate Bertram tonight, who annihilated the opposition to win the grand prix.

“A general consensus among the top riders here is that the FEI [International Equestrian Federation] rule needs to be reviewed regarding mandatory disqualification, and in my view, over-zealous stewarding by one particular steward, compounded by the apathetic actions of the foreign judge and president of the ground jury, led to bringing the sport and this great show into the spotlight for the wrong reasons.”

Horse Sport Ireland chairman Pat Wall also felt the application of the rule should be discretionary.

“I would call Bertram a very sympathetic rider. Judging by the reaction of the crowd and other riders, it was obvious the rigid application of the rule was inappropriate. In this case, you would draw more blood if you nicked yourself shaving. It’s not good for the image of the sport, as it conveys the impression that the horse suffered some adverse affect, which was totally incorrect.

“Unfortunately, people outside of the equestrian fraternity might get the wrong impression about the sport.

“Bertram winning the grand prix was a fairytale ending to Olympia and to have it spoiled over interpretation of rule that was in place to deal with equine welfare is disappointing as, in this case, there was no equine welfare issue.”

A spokesperson for the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) said the decision cannot be overturned and there was no precedent for an appeal.

“Following discussions with the relevant officials, the FEI is satisfied the protocols regarding blood on the horse, as covered by Article 242.3.1 of the FEI Jumping Rules, were followed correctly.

“Horse welfare is central to everything the FEI stands for and is the thread that runs through our day-to-day business. It is crucial the rules are enforced in order to ensure horse welfare is protected, but disqualification under this rule does not imply that there was any intent to injure the horse.”

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