Horse Sport Ireland Host Reception in Wellington – USA

  • 4 March 2016, 15:24

Horse Sport Ireland hosted a reception in Wellington, Palm Beach Wednesday (March 2nd) to recognise the contribution made by owners to Irish equestrian teams and especially to acknowledge the great support that the Irish equestrian community have received in the USA.

Damian McDonald, CEO of Horse Sport Ireland and host of the event spoke at the event saying:-“Ireland and the USA have a special relationship.  Our histories are intertwined by hundreds of thousands of Irish people who emigrated to America. Today, in Palm Beach, a new special releationship has flourished between our two countries through our shared love of the horse.”

“The contribution that US based owners make to Irish equestrian teams is extraordinary. This week sees four Irish teams compete here in Florida with young rider, junior and children on horses teams joining our senior teams. This is a fantastic opportunity for these young riders and I want to thank all of those who have provided them with horses and work placements here in Palm Beech.” he said.

Organised during Nations Cup week for Horse Sport Ireland by Tamso Doyle, who runs HSI’s ownership programme, over 100 guests descended on The Wanderers Club and included Owners Jenji and Diana Mercer of Eqniminity, Lisa Lourie of Spy Coast Farm, John and Ariel Grange of Lothlorian Farms, Maarten and Leoni Huygens aswell as the Blue Buckle syndicate.

Irish riders attended with guests included Cian O’Connor, Darragh Kenny, Shane Sweetnam, Kevin Babington, Richie Moloney, Darragh Kerins, David Blake, Lorcan Gallagher, Ross Mulholland, Michael Kelly, Ronan McGuigan, Paul O’Shea, Conor O’Regan and Oliver McCarthy. The eleven underage riders due to jump for Ireland were also present including the Young Rider team of Noelle Barry, Cormac Hanley, Paraic Kenny and Jenny Rankin, the Junior team of Phillip Carey, Jennifer Kuehnle, Conor McMahon and Jack Ryan and the Children on Horses team of John Gallagher, Dan Geaney and Caelinn Leahy.

The key Irish community based in Wellington attended including Dubliner Michael Stone who is Managing Director of Equestrian Sport Productions who run the winter equestrian festival at Palm Beach Equestrian sector welcomed guests on behalf of the Nations Cup organisers.

Master Farrier Miley Connors, Denis Coakley, Trainer John Roche and Michael Blake – Team Manager of the Children on Horses team this weekend and who has been so instrumental in organising placements for young riders in the US.

More guests included HSI Board Member Charles Hanley whose son Cormac is competing on the young riders team this week. Horseware’s Tom and Lorraine MacGuinness who have sponsored Irish teams for so long. Elaine Hatton HSI’s new International Marketing Director also attended as part of a fact finding mission to explore further opportunities for Ireland in the USA

Show jumping legend Eddie Macken Drew one of the biggest cheers of the night while Georgina Bloomberg of Team USA, Dennis Shaughnessy of FTI Consulting, Howard & Gwen Dvorkin, Stevie and Natalie Macken were also amongst the crowd.

Heinrich Anhold and Aimee McClelland of Stablelab along with Brian Munn from the international Association of hunting with hounds.

Horse Sport Ireland inaugurated a ‘Contribution to Irish Showjumping in the USA’ Award. The winners were nominated by the riders and a Committee consisting of Sarah Kerins, Fiach Byrne, Dianna Babington and Lisa Lourie. The recipients received a tremendous reception – Jimmy Doyle and Denis Quinlan who have been USA based for decades.

Kevin Babington gave a Supporters Award to Noel Phelan who travels out the Nations Cup here every year to support the team.

Irish Team Manager Robert Splaine made a presentation to each of the Irish senior squad owners in acknowledgement of their support for the Irish team.  Robert finished off the evening by announcing the Irish team for Friday and everyone toasting ‘Team Ireland’.

The team for Friday’s Wellington 4*CSIO Nations Cup is:-

Richie Molony – Carribis Z – owned by the Mercer Family – Equinimity LLC

Conor O’Connor – Sam Du Challois – owned by Ronnoco Ltd & Jean Claude Jobin

Conor Swail – Martha Louise – Owned by Sue & Ariel Grange – Lothlorian Farm

Shane Sweetnam – Buckle Up – Owned by Shane Sweetman and the Buckle Up Group

Team Ireland Equestrian will also be represented by teams in the Young Rider (U21), Junior (U18) and Children On Horses (U14) Nations Cup classes, all of which take place on Saturday.


Speaking after the event Spy Coast farms Lisa Lourie who has been a key owner and Supporter for the Irish team and a member of the Owners Party committee said:-“ “It was a terrific party. With the Irish, you knew it would be fun, but this one was extra special because it honored three people who mean so much to the Irish riders here in the U.S. Jimmy Doyle and Denis Quinlan have been integral to the development of Irish participation in the sport of showjumping here in America and Noel Phelan has been a cheerleader for the Irish riders for many years. So many of the people who have supported Irish riders over the years were there; Sue and John Grange, The Mercer family, Bonnie and Frank Cuniffe, Tom MacGuinness, and Eddie and Stevie Macken for starters. I want to thank Horse Sport Ireland for this lovely evening which we can hopefully make an annual event.”


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