With 15 riders through to the jump-off, Bertram Allen (IRL) wiped the floor with the other riders and flew round riding Quiet Easy with a winning time of 30.45 seconds.
The drama then unfolded when, following the end of the class, as preparations got under way for the prize giving ceremony, live camera footage showed Bertram Allen dismounted and Michael Whitaker’s horse, Viking, wearing the winning red rug. News of blood on the horse’s flank circulated, which is instant disqualification under FEI rules on grounds of horse welfare.
Heated discussions could be heard from the collecting ring and the organisers had to quickly rejig proceedings and scramble the Camelot Christmas Finale with the arrival of Father Christmas and carol singing.
Finally the prize giving got underway, with Michael Whitaker taking the £18,300 prize and Ludger Beerbaum promoted to second place and Marcus Ehning third.
Unwavering support for Bertram Allen filled social media timelines as the press waited for an official statement. Michael Whitaker, speaking afterwards, said he would have preferred to have won in the ring and generously gave Allen his rosette.
A statement was finally released very early this morning:
“Following the Olympia Grand Prix CSI5* at Olympia, The London International Horse Show (GBR) on 21 December, 2015, Bertram Allen (IRL) was disqualified by the Ground Jury under Article 242.3.1* of the FEI Jumping Rules when the FEI Steward tasked with the mandatory post-competition boot and bandage control reported to the Ground Jury that Allen’s horse, Quiet Easy, had presented with blood on the offside (right) flank.
*FEI Jumping Rules Article 242.3.1 – Mandatory Disqualification – (‘Horses bleeding on the flank(s), in the mouth or nose or marks indicating excessive use of spurs or of the whip anywhere on the Horse’)
An appeal was lodged by Ms Mhairi Alexander who had been appointed by the Rider and Mrs E Phillips, the Owner, to speak on their behalf. The Appeal Committee heard from the Ground Jury, the FEI Steward and the appointed representative of the Rider.
The Appeal Committee upheld the decision of the Ground Jury that Bertram Allen was correctly disqualified from the competition.
The class was awarded to Michael Whitaker (GBR) and Viking.
Appeal Committee President Val Turner (GBR).”
This is not going to be last we hear on this. It is huge shame for this year’s show to finish in this way and our thoughts are with Bertram Allen and all connections.