Dan Skelton waves farewell, success for Bertram Allen

The 2017 Longines Global Champions Tour also commenced on Thursday

Last summer’s individual Olympic show jumping gold medallist Nick Skelton announced his retirement from the sport during the week and on Thursday the 59-year-old attended the opening day of the Randox Health Grand National meeting at Aintree where his mount at Rio de Janeiro, Big Star, who has also been retired, was paraded.

In competition, most interested centred on Mexico City were the 2017 Longines Global Champions Tour also commenced on Thursday. Ireland’s Bertram Allen won Section B of the morning’s pipe opener, a 1.45m two-phase class, on Quiet Easy 4, and then, riding Hector van d’Abdijhoeve, placed seventh in the first competition of the tour, a 1.55m jump-off class won by Canada’s Eric Lamaze on Fine Lady 5.

The first round of this five-star competition also formed the first round of the Mexican leg of the Global Champions’ League which last year, in its inaugural season, was won by Allen and other members of Valkenswaard United who picked up the lion’s share of €4.5 million when the 15-leg series concluded in Qatar in November.

Allen and his fellow Valkenswaard United team member, Alberto Zorzi of Italy, served notice on Thursday that the squad won’t easily give up their title as they lead after round one on a zero score ahead of the St Tropez Pirates (French rider Simon Delestre and Belgium’s Jerome Guery) who picked up one time fault. The second round takes place on Saturday afternoon local time.


Speaking of the League before leaving for Mexico, Wexford native Allen commented: “I’m really looking forward to taking part in the GCL again this year - it’s a game-changer and I think brilliant for our sport and the future of show jumping.

“It was an honour and a bit of a dream to compete in a team with John (Whitaker) last season, and I’m really looking forward to riding with my new teammates to try keep the title. I think what Jan Tops has done to develop and innovate show jumping over the years is exceptional and I’m very happy to be part of the future and progress of our sport.”

Irish show jumping riders are also competing throughout Europe this weekend while, at home, the Connolly’s Red Mills/Showjumpers club spring tour continues at Mullingar on Sunday.

For the third week running, there is an entry of 300 for an Eventing Ireland one-day event, this time at the Co Carlow venue of Lisgarvan which also takes place on Sunday.