US rider Beezie Madden and Cortes C made history in the prestigious Longines King George V Gold Cup competition at Hickstead, England, on Sunday, taking home the trophy and €66,000.
Madden is the first lady winner in the 108-year history of the class, which was opened up to include female riders in 2008.
Ireland’s Bertram Allen, who turned 19 this month, collected €40,000 for a spectacular second place on Billy Twomey’s stallion Romanov. The Irish teenager went clear all the way in the show’s major feature class, and was beaten by just over a second in the final round by Madden.
Riding the 12-year-old Cortes ‘C’, who was part of the USA’s victorious Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup team on Friday, Madden was drawn last in the King George and made the most of the advantage to take the win and crown a fantastic week for the Americans.
“Us girls were always kind of jealous we didn’t get to jump in this class so it’s really great to win it,” said Madden, referring to the fact that only men were eligible to jump in the King George until 2008.
“My horse actually felt a bit tired in the first round but in the second round he really rose to the occasion.
“He has a huge stride, he’s a big scopey horse and they can tend to land heavy and then take their time to pick up on landing, but he picks up right away on landing and goes – that’s what makes him so fast,” Madden said.
In the first round, there were a flurry of clears early on, but they became more spaced out until the 49 riders were whittled down to a jump-off field of 14. There were two riders through for Great Britain, Michael Whitaker (Amai) and his nephew Robert on Catwalk IV. The clear rounds were a bit slow in coming in the jump-off and Michael Whitaker held the lead with the fastest four faults until Shane Breen, fifth in, produced the first clear with Golden Hawk (52.88secs).
There was a long way to go with nine horses still to jump and Breen lost the lead to Australian James Paterson-Robinson (51.14secs). The time still looked like it might be beatable, as the Australia had steadied into the final fence, but the remaining riders now had to chase him if they were going to clinch it. Three poles down put Robert Whitaker out of the running, but Bertram Allen came in and knocked more than 4 seconds off the time (47.09secs) with an impressive round on the big-jumping Romanov.
Next to go was Marcus Ehning, who put in his usual polished performance but was nine-tenths of a second off the mark and had to settle for second, which soon became third after last in Beezie Madden produced a deceptively-fast round with Cortes C to finish a second faster than Allen. Fellow Irish rider Shane Breen took home €12,000 for finishing fifth with Golden Hawk.
Though he had to settle for second in the King George, Bertram Allen capped off a great week for Ireland at the Longines International Horse Show. Earlier in the day he won the Royal International Accumulator with Wrangler II, Shane Breen taking home €12,000 for finishing fifth in the class with Golden Hawk, and his brother, Trevor, winning Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Adventure de Kannan.