In one of the more remarkable five star Grands Prix seen this year, Ireland’s 22 year-old Bertram Allen and the grey mare Molly Malone finished third and 60,000 euro richer after recording the only zero score for much of the first round at the Grand Palais in Paris and then disappointingly lowering a fence in the jump-off.

Such was the difficulty of the Grand Prix Hermès course that 13 of the top international riders taking part were forced to retire in the first round, with one elimination, from a starting field of 47.

Allen, 11th to jump, brought the crowds to their feet with the first clear round of the competition, and indeed for quite some time it seemed that there would be no need for a jump-off after rider after rider failed to achieve another zero score.

Even fellow Irish rider Denis Lynch and the talented Echo de Laubry, 32nd to jump, had to settle for eight faults and a 19th place overall.

However, local ace Penelope Leprevost, jumping in 41st place with the bay stallion Vagabond de la Pomme, produced the long-awaited second clear round, thereby guaranteeing a jump-off, much to the delight of the capacity audience in Paris’s Grand Palais.

But six horses later, and the final combination to jump, the bay mare California piloted by Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander also delivered a fault-free round, leaving Allen with two opponents in the jump-off.

Bertram Allen at today’s prize giving ceremony in the Grand Palais

First to go, the Irish rider produced what proved to be the fastest time but had one fence down, and Leprevost followed this with a clear, as did Tops-Alexander, who was just eight hundredths of a second faster than the French rider.

Tops-Alexander collected a significant 132,000 euro in winner’s prize money, with Leprevost picking up 80,000 for second place and Allen 60,000 euro.

Jack Burns