Ireland's Bertram Allen scored a sensational win in the $210,000 Longines FEI World Cup Grand Prix in Toronto in the early hours of this morning, bringing a sold-out audience to their feet with a stunning performance when last to jump.
The 24-year-old partnered GK Casper to the top of the class in the gelding’s World Cup debut, coming out on top after a four-horse jump-off with a brilliant clear round in 34.70 seconds.
"That's what it’s all about. Everyone wants to win the Grand Prix, last to go, in front of a full house. It was one that I really wasn’t expecting, so it made it all the more sweet," said a delighted Allen.
Jos Verlooy (Belgium) and Igor had led until Allen’s final round and settled for second in 35.41, while Brian Moggre (USA) finished third with MTM Vivre le Reve in 35.83.
"I was struggling a bit in the first round—all week to be honest," Allen explained. "He went in on the first day [of the competition], and he was very spooky.
"He wasn’t supposed to come here as my [top] horse, as I was meant to take another one, and he had to step up a bit. I knew if I got the first round behind me, I wouldn’t have to worry about the jumps as much in the second round. I could really give it a lash."
Allen has had the 11-year-old for nearly five years, and his patience with the gelding is paying off in spades.
"He's always been fantastic," Allen said. "He’s a very good jumper and very careful. It’s taken him longer to get to this height. For most horses, their first season doing this [level] is as 9-year-olds.
"This is his first season now. I’ve always said 'Whatever he can jump, he can win.’ I knew he could be very competitive over here for these few weeks. He had been jumping fantastic, but we were just missing the last bit of luck. It all came through today."