THE good run of Irish form continued at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida, USA, last weekend. Daniel Coyle and Eoin McMahon scored three-star victories, while Paul O’Shea was runner-up in the Grand Prix and young rider Tom Wachman had big success at Under 25 level.
Coyle got his victory in Thursday’s $37,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m aboard Ariel Grange’s Tienna. Fifty-nine combinations showed up to contest Oscar Soberon’s (USA) speed track but none were able to catch Daniel Coyle’s blazing time of 65.56 seconds. McLain Ward (USA) came closest in 66.30 seconds and held on to it for a majority of the class until Coyle and Tienna managed to shave a little less than a second off.
The win as extra special as it was an FEI comeback for the 14-year-old mare who had a two-year injury enforced break. “When I first began riding her [when she was eight], I knew she was by far the most talented horse I had ever ridden, and we kind of grew in our careers together,” Coyle said. “I’ve been lost without her for the past two years, and I can’t put into words how glad I am to have her back.”
WEF first-timer Eoin McMahon won Friday’s feature class, the three-star WEF Challenge Cup with his top horse Chacon 2. In a competitive class with 58 starters, the pair blazed to victory when the best of 11 clears against the clock in 40.29 seconds.
McMahon is impressed with the WEF venue. “It is amazing here. The facilities are top class, and I have never seen a surface as good as the grass here. The horses just fly on it. Our original plan was not to compete this particular horse until the five-star weeks, but I decided to do him this week simply because I wanted a chance to jump on this field,” the Co Clare rider commented.
Limerick’s Paul O’Shea was runner-up in Sunday’s $140,000 Hygain Feeds Grand Prix with his World Games mount Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu. A brilliant clear in 43.88 second in the 13-horse jump-off saw him lead the way until Britain’s Ben Maher and the 19-year-old stallion Tic Tac eventually beat that target to take victory.
“He has been a fantastic horse for me and has really brought me up to a new level in my career,” said O’Shea. “He tries his heart out each time, and I am very grateful to everyone involved that I am able to ride him.
Tipperary’s Tom Wachman (16) had a weekend to remember in the Hermès Under 25 series. He won Saturday’s $10,000 FEI Hermès Under 25 Welcome Stake aboard HH Fireball when the fastest of 21 clear rounds in the big class of 67 starters.
In Sunday’s $25,000 Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix, Tom was runner-up with the 13-year-old gelding Lazarro delle Schiave, just pipped at the post by Dominican Republic’s Maria Brugal.
“The jump-off suited me because it was so spread out. I had a good plan with the numbers, and it all came up, so it worked out,” commented Wachman, who added: “My horse is a bit older now, so he’s experienced. He’s been to a lot of shows and a lot of grass shows, so it’s not really a problem for him, and he’s actually better on grass.”