Celebrating our 'special relationship' with the US
Irish show jumping is fortunate to have secured some top US owners in recent years to support American-based Irish riders.
In gratitude Horse Sport Ireland recently hosted a reception in Florida to recognise the contribution made by these owners to Irish equestrian teams and especially to acknowledge the great support that the Irish equestrian community have received in the USA.
It was fitting that the reception took place just hours before the team of Conor Swail, Cian O'Connor, Richie Moloney and Shane Sweetnam lifted the prestigious Nations Cup in Wellington, an event won by Irish riders on many occasions in recent years.
Organised during Nations Cup week for Horse Sport Ireland by Tamso Doyle, who runs HSI's ownership programme, the guest list included prominent owners as Jenji and Diana Mercer of Equinimity (sponsor of Richie Moloney), and Lisa Lourie of Spy Coast Farm, owners of many of Shane Sweetnam's top horses.
Other Irish riders in attendance included Kevin Babington, Paul O'Shea, Darragh Kerins, David Blake and Conor O'Regan.
During the evening 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 were Jimmy Doyle and Denis Quinlan, both of whom have been USA-based for decades.
Kevin Babington also gave a Supporters' Award to Waterford man Noel Phelan who travels out to the Nations Cup every year to support the team.