Donegal horse scoops 75,000 euro in Rolex Grand Prix

Lifford breeder and showjumper Simon Scott was on top of the world again as his home bred Pacino Amiro shone at Royal Windsor to take third and 75,000 euro in the 33 entry 500,000 euro Rolex Grand Prix.

Bertram Allen, son of the well known cattle dealing family Allen Bros, one of the youngest ever leading riders at Dublin Horse Show partnered Aidan McGrory's Tokyo Olympic team horse to success for third place in the competition which saw former world number one Martin Fuchs win on Conner Jei, with runner up going to current Olympic gold medalist Ben Maher on Explosion.

Windsor's five star Rolex class was a sporting highlight of the outdoor jumping calendar where 33 of the world's best showjumping riders and horses battled it out over a tough track built by Portugal's Bernardo Costa Cabral. Pacino Amiro is no stranger to five star events having taken third in the Rolex Grand Prix in Wellington, Florida two months ago.

Pacino Amiro, produced the first stunning clear round of the prestigious Royal Windsor competition, where the Olympic gold medallist Explosion and Ben Maher were favourites to win. The nine horse jump off cost rider's thousands as the fences fell, but Pacino Amiro and Bertram Allen were on fire and kept up the pressure to gallop onto the podium in third behind former world number one Marcus Fuchs and current Olympic champion Ben Maher. It was a further Rolex success for the talented rider who was third recently in the Florida Rolex Grand Prix.

Bertram Allen steers Pacino Amiro bred in Lifford by Simon Scott, into third place for 75,000 euro in the Royal Windsor Horse Show Rolex 500,000 euro Grand Prix. Picture by Peter Nixon.Bertram Allen steers Pacino Amiro bred in Lifford by Simon Scott, into third place for 75,000 euro in the Royal Windsor Horse Show Rolex 500,000 euro Grand Prix. Picture by Peter Nixon.
Bertram Allen steers Pacino Amiro bred in Lifford by Simon Scott, into third place for 75,000 euro in the Royal Windsor Horse Show Rolex 500,000 euro Grand Prix. Picture by Peter Nixon.

Ringside spectators held their breath for the first round where clears came from former European champion Kevin Staut on Dialou Blue PS, Irish owner Carol Gee's grey Diarado gelding Dourados ridden by Duarte Seabra, and French veteran Roger Yves Bost with Cassius Clay Vdz Z.

Star of the future, Greek rider Ioli Mytilineou and Levis de Muze soared clear, as did the foot perfect Ben Maher's Explosion and Israel's Daniel Bluman with Ladriano Z. Mrs Sheila McAteer from Newry cheered her grand daugher Jodie Hall McAteer with Salt N Peppa in the first round for 12 faults, while GB's William Funnell retired before big scopey clears came from Fuchs on Conner Jei and Max Kuhner with Elektric Blue P.

Cookstown international Emily Turkington travelled from Balmoral after the Grand Prix to support Bertram Allen and was at his side as he prepared tactics for the valuable jump off.

As this is European championship year in Milan, and Paris Olympics 2024, all focus was on the top horses, while Prince Edward was there to present the prizes.

Delilah Cuddihey from Moville watched the Rolex in Windsor and said: “This had the Olympic champion Explosion, Bertam Allen's Pacino Amiro bred by Simon Scott and former world number one Martin Fuchs jumping off, this is one exciting jump off where the world's best did battle.”

For the second round, Allen set the pace with a perfect clear in 34.50, while Kevin Staut faulted at the double, and four faulters were Mytilineou, Seabra and Bluman.

When Ben Maher's Explosion lived up to his name with a clear in 33.77, the spectators were on a high, but Fuchs had been watching the screens and knew he could overhaul the time with a fast turn and final gallop which he did in a heart stopping 33.37. Max Kuhner gave chase for a fantastic clear in 34.94 for fourth place, but it was Fuchs's big day collecting first prize of 125,000 euro and another Rolex watch, 100,000 euro to runner up Maher and third place 75,000 euro cheque for Allen.

Bangor man Ben Townley was assistant course builder to Bernardo. He said: "We were extremely happy with the track, plenty of tests, the horses and guys jumped really well. A few interesting lines to the triple bar, faults everywhere throughout the course which was testing, but a great competition."

Marcus Fuchs commented: “Bertram had a hard draw to go first, it is never easy but he went well. The Rolex GP is for the best rider/horse combinations and when I saw Ben's round I knew where he left out a stride, I knew I had to do seven strides and close my eyes and push.”

Bertram Allen stated: “I thought the first round was one of the best I ever had with him. I gave the jump off a good go and it went well. He started off the season in Florida and was third in the Rolex Grand Prix there, I couldn't be happier. I knew no matter what I did today, Marcus and Ben were the stand outs from the start list.”

Ben Maher added: “Explosion had been out for eight or nine months, I am proud of my team bringing him back, he jumped incredible. We did just two small classes last week, to come here this week he showed his experience the way he can just go in a Grand Prix just like that.”

Meanwhile in the dressage Internationals at Windsor, Ireland's new dressage star and potential for Paris Olympics Bangor woman Abi Lyle excelled taking 6th with Farrell in the Grand Prix and 8th in Freestyle, with both classes won by GB's Olympic gold medallist Charlotte Dujardin.

Ireland's Nations Cup team finished second behind the USA at the San Juan Capistrano Californian five star. The team included Conor Swail, Andrew Bourns, David Blake and Mark Kinsella.

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In pictures: 35 photographs from the equestrian classes at Balmoral Show