The Cork-born rider posted a four-fault round on his first visit to the arena with the 13-year-old gelding, which was good enough to join eight rivals in the second round.
First into the fray, the Nottinghamshire-based rider jumped a clear that proved unmatched, his closest adversary, Britain’s Nigel Coupe on the 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse Golvers Hill, finishing almost two seconds slower.
In England, Camilla Speirs elicited a clear round from the diminutive Portersize Just A Jiff in yesterday’s show jumping phase of the world-famous Badminton Horse Trials to finish in 9th place on 50.7 penalties.
The Kildare-based rider had started her challenge on the 15hh gelding in 45th place after dressage, but rose to 17th when picking up just 0.8 time penalties in Saturday’s cross-country, which saw 27 riders of the 77 starters retire or be eliminated.
Mullingar-born Joseph Murphy finished in 28th place with DHI Topstory (69.3 pens) and filled 40th spot with Sportsfield Othello (106.6 pens). Limerick’s Bandon-based Michael Ryan and Ballylynch Adventure (84.4 pens) finished in 30th place, while Sarah Ennis and BLM Diamond Delux came home in 34th.
Germany’s Michael Jung made history as the first German to win the 67-year-old event and, in the process, he became only the second winner of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing.
Jung was the clear winner by a huge nine-penalty margin with a score of 34.4 pens, the lowest in Badminton history.
In Hamburg, Germany, the prodigious talent of Bertram Allen on Romanov combined with the experience of the legendary Briton John Whitaker aboard Cassini’s Chaplin under the banner of Valkenswaard United to win their second Global Champions League contest.
The third leg of the inaugural season produced the first scenario where the combined times of the two riders were required to separate the winners from the next best and it was Allen who stole the show.
Antwerp Diamonds combination of Audrey Coulter with Alex and Harrie Smolders with Bokai had jumped double clear, finishing on a combined time of 153.92 seconds, leaving Allen with six seconds to make up.
The 20-year-old Wexford native made a difficult task look easy, crossing the finish line on the 18-year-old chestnut for a combined time of 150.29 secs to give Valkenswaard United its second victory after five legs, the first coming in the opener in Miami, Florida.
“I was trying to do the maths in my head with the few who had gone before me. I saw Harrie go, and I knew I had to be six seconds faster than Harrie so I didn’t know if I could do that,” said Allen “I just went in and tried my best, went fast. I wasn’t sure how fast I had to go.”.
They’re getting very competitive these Global Champions Leagues, so I knew I had to bring a good horse. I brought [Romanov] here for one class and he delivered, so it worked a treat for me,” said Allen, who also won a Mercedes car on the Thursday.
The win put Valkenswaard United top of the league table on 130 points, 11 more than the Monaco Aces, with Antwerp Diamonds close behind on 116 points and Whitaker said there would be no letting up.
“We’re a good team, and we’re going to keep the pressure on! We had a great day, my horse jumped super. He’s eight years old and this is probably the biggest he’s jumped in his career. He’s a big horse who enjoys the big rings. We had the same strategy as Miami, so I would get the clears in and leave Bertram to do the speed part, which he did very well.”
In Saturday’s Global Champions Tour contest, Allen was out of luck on his Olympic hope Molly Malone V. The pair went into the competition among the favourites.
However, with Ireland manager Robert Splaine looking on, Allen’s mare barely clipped the second part of the double to finish on four faults in the second round of the three-round competition.
Among Allen’s rivals for Ireland’s sole place in the Olympics is Denis Lynch and All Star 5 and the Tipperary rider and Thomas Straumann’s 13-year-old stallion were impressive, leaving all the fences standing over two rounds, but a single time fault in their first outing leaving the pair in ninth place.
In Drammen, Norway, the Irish team of Capt. Geoff Curran (Mullaghbane, 8/8), Paul Kennedy (Cartown Danger Mouse, 8/0), Richard Howley (Chinook, 8/4), and Shane Carey (Contador, 12/4) finished fifth in the nations cup.