FEI stands by Bertram Allen’s Olympia disqualification

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Bertram Allen and Quiet Easy 4 won the Longines Speed Challenge at the Longines Masters of Los Angeles on Friday.
Bertram Allen and Quiet Easy, pictured winning the Speed Challenge at the Longines Masters of Los Angeles. © McCool Photos for EEM

The FEI is standing by the decision of its officials to disqualify Irish rider Bertram Allen from the final showjumping class of London’s Olympia horse show on Monday.

FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez has voiced her full support for the actions of FEI Officials at the show after blood was found on the flank of Allen’s horse, Quiet Easy.

The mark on Quiet Easy's side which caused his disqualification in the Olympia Grand Prix.
The mark on Quiet Easy’s side which caused his disqualification in the Olympia Grand Prix.

“I have absolutely no doubt that the protocols regarding blood on the horse were followed correctly at London Olympia on Monday night,” Ibáñez said.

“Of course this incident has created a considerable amount of discussion on social media because Bertram Allen would otherwise have won the Grand Prix, so there is a high level of sympathy for him, but the FEI Officials were in Olympia – as they are at every event run under FEI Rules – to ensure a fair and level playing field and that the welfare of the horse is protected.

“Blood was found on the flank of Bertram Allen’s horse and, under FEI Jumping Rules, that results in mandatory disqualification. The situation was reported to the Ground Jury by the FEI Steward who had conducted the normal post-competition check on the horse and Bertram Allen was then informed of his disqualification in person by the President of the Ground Jury and the Foreign Judge.

“Let me be clear, disqualification under this rule does not imply that there was any intent to injure the horse, but it is crucial that the rules are enforced in order to ensure that horse welfare ‎is protected.

“It is very easy for any sports official to be criticised when they are simply doing their job. Everything at Olympia was handled correctly and in accordance with the rules, but there is no doubt that it was an unfortunate end to a wonderful event.”

Allen’s team appealed the disqualification, but the Olympia appeals committee upheld the original decision.

At the time, Allen said: “I am devastated by the decision of the ground jury to eliminate me and my horse. Quiet Easy’s performance was truly outstanding. At some point during my very fast round against the clock, my leg must have slipped giving my horse the tiniest of nicks on his side which bled ever so slightly.

“I totally understand the rules in relation to the treatment of horses in competition, but I’m disappointed that the officials didn’t use any discretion on this occasion.”

Competing riders had voiced their support for the Irish rider, with class winner Michael Whitaker handing over his first prize rosette to Allen, who was two seconds faster in the jump-off.

Fellow Irish rider Cian O’Connor was scathing in his criticism of events. “I feel for my team mate Bertram, who annihilated the opposition to win the Grand Prix. A general consensus among the top riders here is that the FEI rule needs to be reviewed regarding mandatory disqualification. In my view overzealous stewarding by one particular steward compounded by the apathetic actions of the foreign judge and president of the ground jury here, led to bringing the sport and this great show into the spotlight for the wrong reasons.”

FEI Jumping Rules Article 242.3.1 

Mandatory Disqualification

3.1 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 (in minor cases of blood in the mouth, such as where a Horse appears to have bitten its tongue or lip, Officials may authorize the rinsing or wiping of the mouth and allow the Athlete to continue; any further evidence of blood in the mouth will result in Disqualification.)

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