Sunday 21 January 2018

Allen's shock Rio snub

High world ranking not enough to gain showjumping spot

Bertram Allen at the National Horse Sport Arena in Abbottstown
Bertram Allen at the National Horse Sport Arena in Abbottstown

Wexford's prospects of having a direct interest in the Rio Olympics have been dealt a shattering blow with the news that Bertram Allen - the young man who secured the qualifying spot in the first place - has been denied the chance to represent his country in showjumping.

There was shock and disbelief in local equestrian circles on Wednesday when it was announced that Greg Broderick, ranked 252nd in the world, had got the nod ahead of Allen who has been a fixture in the top ten since making the breakthrough on the world stage.

Under the rather convoluted arrangements surrounding selection, Broderick and MHS Going Global have been proposed to the Olympic Council of Ireland as the sole Irish showjumping representatives for Rio.

And now, barring some unforeseen circumstance unknown to those outside the sport, Allen and his grey mare Molly Malone won't be seen showcasing their considerable talents in Brazil.

The 20-year-old Wexford native, now based in Germany, had earned that sole place for Ireland in the first instance as a result of his outstanding performances and consistent high rankings throughout the Olympic qualification period.

However, that did not guarantee him actual selection as it was then down to team manager Robert Splaine to decide which showjumper would make the cut from four potential candidates.

It was generally assumed that Allen would face stiffest competition from the experienced Cian O'Connor - and his horse Good Luck - who had claimed an Olympic bronze medal in 2012.

Denis Lynch also merited some consideration with All Star given the pair's excellent form during the winter months, but Broderick was regarded as the complete outsider of the four given his lowly ranking.

Robert Splaine had said all along that current form would have a big bearing on his decision, and it seems like he took that view literally.

Broderick, a 31-year-old from Tipperary, and his Irish-bred MHS Going Global were best of the Irish performers at the final selection trial during the Nations Cup show at St Gallen in Switzerland on the weekend before last.

After a double clear on Friday in the Furusiyya Nations Cup, Broderick repeated the dose in Sunday's Grand Prix, and that seems to have sealed the deal in the eyes of the team manager.

In contrast, Allen appears to have paid a very heavy price for an error in the first round of the Nations Cup and a fence down in the Grand Prix play-off.

Even Broderick appeared somewhat surprised by the verdict as he declared on Facebook: 'I feel for Bertram who won the spot, and I'm sure he will represent us in many more Olympics'.

There is a lot of sympathy for the Wexford youngster in showjumping circles, with the general feeling abounding that he has been hard done by.

Allen and Molly Malone stole the limelight with superb displays at the World Equestrian Games in France two years ago and a third-place finish at the 2015 World Cup final in Las Vegas.

Having never dropped out of the top ten rankings in that spell, and having gained the qualifying spot for Ireland in the first place, Allen must now be wondering what exactly he had to do in order to get Splaine's verdict.

It's a baffling decision and one that calls into question the entire selection process.

Wexford People

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