Wexford's Bertram Allen stormed to victory in Sunday’s $140,000 (€123,000) IDA Development three-star Grand Prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida - the second year in a row that the Irish rider has won this competition.
Riding his own 15-year-old gelding Harley VD Bisschop, Allen was among 15 combinations who jumped clear in the first round to make it into the jump-off.
With the best position in the second round, Allen and Harley VD Bisschop were the final combination into the jump-off and the pair flew through the finish beam with a winning clear in 39.66 seconds - over a second ahead of British runner-up Ben Maher with Faltic HB
"For some reason or other, I don’t always get the nicest jump-offs on Harley," admitted Allen of the Belgian Warmblood by Dulf van den Bisschop x Coronado.
"I was just going to have my round, and if it all came off, I knew he could be fast enough, but I wasn’t going to force anything. And then right from the start, I caught one to two good, the double [combination] good, and just kept going from there."
Harley has been in the family since November of 2018, having previously been ridden by Nicola Philippaerts.
Allen explained: "My brother [Harry] rode him at one or two shows at the end of last year, and he’s in Spain now with a lot of the other horses.
"He came out here [to Wellington] the first week, so I thought it would be nice for him to ride him and see how it’s done over here, because it’s different in Europe. It was a good experience for him, and obviously it didn’t do the horse any harm."
Allen won this same Grand Prix at the 2021 WEF with the Irish Sport Horse Castlefield Vegas. For Harley VD Bisschop, that pre-qualification into the Grand Prix and the grass venue made it an "encouraging" decision to enter the horse.
"It’s great to be a winner any time, but to do it two years in a row, and also last to go, is that little bit sweeter too," he said.
A total of four Irish riders finished in the top 10. Conor Swail and Count Me In took fourth place, Shane Sweetnam was eighth with James Kann Cruise (ISH) while Paul O’Shea finished tenth aboard Squirt Gun.
The Irish Sport Horse ABC Quantum Cruise finished seventh with Hector Florentino (DOM).