IN HIS first ever World Cup Final, Wexford’s 19 year-old Bertram Allen was third overall at Las Vegas tonight (Sunday) in one of the tightest finishing scores ever seen in the famous competition.

Starting with one penalty point on his card this evening, Allen and the 11 year-old grey mare Molly Malone had a single fence down to complete the first round on five penalties, equal second with France’s Penelope Leprevost and Vagabond de la Pomme. Swiss Olympic champion Steve Guerdat with Albfuehren’s Paille had started on a zero score and finished with no penalties, to maintain his World Cup lead.

In the second round, featuring the top 20 riders, Allen and Leprevost each had a fence down, both now with nine penalties, which left Guerdat with two fences in hand. In the last jumping round of the Finals, the Swiss rider managed to dislodge two poles, leaving him on a total of eight penalty points, thereby winning the championship by a single point.

Allen and Leprevost tied on nine penalties apiece, but as the Frenchwoman’s time was just half a second faster than Allen’s she claimed second place, with the Irish teenager in third, equalling Eddie Macken’s World Cup finish in the 1979 World Cup Final.

Allen’s remarkable achievement will not only earn him World Ranking points (he was 10th in the world before this weekend) but also garner him valuable Olympic individual qualification points.

Irish show jumping manager Robert Splaine said from Las Vegas after the competition: “This was a remarkable achievement in a world championship for a 19 year-old. Taking this third place was an incredible performance and is great for our sport . Bertram himself is a wonderful ambassador for Ireland.”

Ireland has never won the World Cup, with Jessica Kurten coming second in Kuala Lumpur in 2006 on board Castle Forbes Libertina, and Trevor Coyle also taking the runner-up spot in the final at Gothenburg in Sweden in 1999 with the legendary Irish Sport Horse Cruising. Eddie Macken achieved third place at the inaugural World Cup Final in 1979 with Carrolls of Dundalk, also in Gothenburg.