THE Olympia Horse Show in London has come to a dramatic conclusion tonight (Monday), with Ireland’s Bertram Allen disqualified following the Grand Prix - moments before he was about to collect the winner's prize.
Allen and the 11-year-old gelding Quiet Easy 4 had produced an incredible performance when fifth to go against the clock in the curtain-closing Grand Prix. They posted a stunning time of 30.45 seconds to put intense pressure on those who followed in the 15 horse jump-off.
One by one, the world’s top horses and riders tried to match the Irish rider’s time but none even came close to catching the 20-year-old.
Last to go was Britain’s Michael Whitaker and Viking but, despite a good effort, he finished second, almost two seconds behind Ireland’s Allen.
Just as riders were preparing for the prize giving, it was announced that the ceremony was being put on hold. News then began to filter through that Allen had dramatically been disqualified, with commentators suggesting the disqualification was due to horse welfare issues.
The Irish Field understands that a speck of blood may have been found on the flank of Allen’s horse Quiet Easy before the prize giving was about to begin.
British rider Michael Whitaker was then named winner, collecting the €25,000 first prize.
It is believed a distraught Allen received huge support from his fellow riders following the British officials' decision and the prize giving ceremony took place amid a somewhat sombre atmosphere.
BBC commentator Andy Austin had described Allen’s round as “one of the best jump-off performances I have ever seen."
However, a dramatic night at the Olympia Grand Hall has seen the young Irishman devastated by the stewards' decision.
Earlier today Cian O'Connor was just pipped for first place in the Holly Speed Stakes at the five-star Olympia London International Horse Show.
Riding Coco 11, the Irishman was 17th to jump of the 22 starters, and went clear in 52.68, fractionally faster than long-time leader Dutchman Maikel Van der Vleuten on Kisby.
However the Meath rider was denied victory by third-last to jump Pius Schwizer of Switzerland, who got Leonard de la Ferme across the timer one third of a second faster.
Don't miss our special Christmas Eve edition of The Irish Field out this Thursday, where we will bring you more news on this developing story.