Easy Does it for AllenBy Paula Parisi October 2, 2015
There was nothing easy about Bertram Allen’s win in tonight’s Longines Speed Challenge aboard Quiet Easy 4. The 20-year-old Irish rider was blazingly fast and fault-free over a tricky course that saw rails toppling like matchsticks. The $130,000 1.45m CSI 5* was a single round, with each downed rail converting to two seconds added to the time (Table C). Course designer Luc Musette offered many options and built in lots of twists, making for a very exciting contest. Riders were tempted to take risks, with inside turns, since a downed rail or two wouldn’t rule out a win if they were really, really fast.
As it turned out, there were few clear rounds, and six of the 33 starters retired or were eliminated. Scott Brash (GBR’s) and Hello Annie were second with a time of 58.96 that put them a whisp behind Allen’s 58.91. Fellow team Ireland rider Piergiorgio Bucci was third on Cuarta, leaving all rails up, at a relatively leisurely pace of 62.94. “The others were four seconds faster,” Bucci said. “My mare was amazing. She is not a speed horse, but I wanted to try. After fence 9 she tried to jump #4, so I lost two seconds there.”
Indeed, many lost it during the second half of the course. Five of the top 10 world-ranked riders participated were vying for the prize, including No. 1, Scott Brash, and 14 nations were represented. In addition to the top three, the only other rider who managed to leave all the rails in the cups was John Whitaker (GBR), on Lord of Arabia. Eduardo Menenzes (BRA), on Carushka 2, managed to hold the lead for a while despite having a rail down, and finished fourth. The top-placed U.S. rider was Jessica Springsteen and Davendy S, who finished 15th on a time of 67.02.
Belgian course designer Musette and his team create the 5* courses for all three shows in the Longines Masters Series, and since the speed course remains the same throughout, riders who participated in Los Angeles will have the advantage of familiarity at the Masters of Paris, Dec. 3-6 and Masters of Hong Kong, Feb. 19-21.
Twenty-year-old Allen said the course requirements of difficult lines at speed made for a daunting challenge. Allen began competing the lovely 11-year-old chestnut gelding in March, finishing third in the speed class at the CSI5* at ’s-Hertogenbosch. Their success together is all the more sweet in that they suffered a setback before they even hit the field: Quite Easy was operated on for a serious bout of colic on the eve of shipping to Allen’s barn from owner Emma Phillips’ Quainton Stud in Buckinghamshire. Tonight he proved not only that the horse is back to form, but so is he. Allen has a newly healed collarbone, having broken it just over a month ago. He rode with the injury in Barcelona last week and now barely notices any discomfort.
Earlier in the evening, British rider Whitaker won the $85,000 Prix Airbus 1.50m CSI5* in a double clear round on Argento.
The Longines Masters of Los Angeles will continue through Sunday, combining spectacular show jumping action, lifestyle entertainment, artwork provided by the Opera Gallery, family-friendly activities in the Kids Village, and more. Highlights of the competition still to come include the Gucci Gold Cup, and the Charity Pro-Am Style & Competition, culminating in Sunday afternoon’s Longines Grand Prix. For tickets and schedule visit the Longines Masters of Los Angeles website.
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