By Dan Walsh
The equestrian sport eyes of the world will be focused firmly on Equestrian Park at the Tokyo Olympics this morning as Team Ireland compete for medals and the local interest surrounds the participation of Enniscorthy-born Bertram Allen.
Son of Bert Allen and Geraldine Fitzgerald, Bertram celebrated his 26th birthday last Sunday and has plenty of family connections to cheer him on, including his siblings, Harry, himself a promising young showjumping rider, April, Lucy and Grace. The family home is at Enniscorthy, but they also own Ballywalter Farm, near Kilmuckridge.
When news of his nomination broke in June, Bertram Allen told WexfordLocal.com; “I am most grateful to be nominated to represent Team Ireland at the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer together with my team-mates Cian O’Connor, Darragh Kenny, Shane Sweetnam and Michael Duffy. To compete for my country on the Olympic stage is a tremendous honour for me! “I am also incredibly proud of my Irish bred partner Pacino Amiro, who has kept on getting better and better this season to reach the highest level despite his young age!”
Now the great moment is nigh! The latest news is as follows thanks to Horse Sport Ireland.
London Olympic bronze medallist Cian O’Connor is out of the team after his horse Kilkenny suffered a nose bleed in the Individual Jumping on Wednesday where he finished in seventh position.
Team manager Michael Blake has called up Cork native Shane Sweetnam who makes his Olympic debut with Alejandro, a 12-year-old gelding owned by Sweetnam along with Spy Coast Farm and Seabrook LLC. A reliable source told me that Sweetnam has Wexford family connections in the Clough area of Gorey, but I have been unable to confirm this news!
Sweetnam will be first of the three Irish riders to jump and will be followed by Bertram Allen with Pacino Amiro (ISH), while Darragh Kenny will be last of the Irish to jump with VDL Cartello.
The full list of teams and the order to go is as follows:1, Czech Republic; 2, China; 3, Japan; 4, Israel; 5, Mexico; 6, Argentina; 7, Morocco; 8, New Zealand; 9, Ireland; 10, Egypt; 11, France; 12, Sweden; 13, USA; 14, Great Britain; 15, Brazil; 16, Switzerland; 17, Belgium; 18, Germany; 19, Netherlands.
The Olympic Show Jumping team qualifier starts at 11am Irish time today (Friday). RTE 2 will show each of the Irish riders in action, while the entire competition can be watched on the Eurosport Player/Discovery+ (subscription required).