David Blake finishes third at National Horse Show in Lexington

Daniel Coyle was named leading international rider of the four-star show

Ireland’s show jumping riders recorded their best results across the Atlantic this weekend although missing out on success in the major classes at the National Horse Show in Lexington, Kentucky and at the first round of this year’s National Sunshine Series in Thermal, California.

At the former venue, Daniel Coyle followed up his win on CHS Krooze in Thursday's 1.45m speed and handiness class by partnering his nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare to victory in Friday's 1.45m accumulator. The Derry native picked up the maximum 65 points in 47.16 seconds to win ahead of the USA's Lillie Keenan on Agana van het Gerendal Z (48.40) and Co Down's Conor Swail with Gamble (48.63).

On Saturday, 40 riders from 11 different countries lined out in the week’s featured 1.60m jump-off class, a qualifier for April’s Longines FEI World Cup final in Las Vegas, with eight getting through to the second round where four were again clear over the shortened track.

Fastest of these was the host nation's Brian Moggre who, at 18 years of age, became the youngest winner of the event when stopping the clock on 34.22 with MTM Vivre le Reve. Japan's Karen Polle was home in 34.44 to finish second on Kino with Co Clare native David Blake earning just short of $34,000 when third with Pine Hollow Farm's 10-year-old Holstein stallion, Keoki (36.87).

Coyle, who finished well down the field when Farrel picked up eight faults in round one, was named leading international rider of the four-star show and was presented with a one-year lease of an Audi Q7.

The “Bid for Kevin” fund-raiser held at the Kentucky Horse Park saw the equestrian community get behind the continuing efforts to benefit Irish rider Kevin Babington in his recovery from serious injuries sustained in a fall in September.

Individuals were able to bid on riders competing in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup class for a chance to win lessons with some of the sport's greatest athletes. Whoever "bought" the victorious rider - in this case, Moggre - received private lessons with Beezie Madden, Shane Sweetnam, Kent Farrington, McLain Ward and Margie Engle. Surpassing the goal of $75,000, the funds raised amounted to $87,245.

Competing at three-star level at the Desert International Horse Park in Thermal, about 40 kilometres east of Palm Springs, Tipperary Olympian Greg Broderick finished fifth in Sunday’s 1.50m Grand Prix when picking up eight faults in the jump-off round on Kerry Anne LLC’s Westbrook. The USA’s Charlie Jayne won the $100,000 competition when recording the only double clear with Tou la Moon.

While the Irish ladies’ hockey team secured Olympic qualification when beating Canada in a dramatic penalty shoot-out in Donnybrook on Sunday, Carlow’s Sam Watson, riding the borrowed Summer Solstice, failed to progress to the second round of the Horseware Ireland indoor eventing challenge in Toronto.

Watson, who helped the Irish eventing team book a place in Tokyo when on the silver medal-winning quartet at last year’s World Equestrian Games in North Carolina, could only sit on and watch as Canada’s Karl Slezak won with the Irish Sport Horse gelding, Fernhill Wishes. The 10-year-old bay by Chacoa was bred in Co Kerry by Anna Kennedy out of the Glidawn Diamond mare, KEC Galway Bay.

In Europe, there was a win on Friday for Co Down’s John McEntee in the FEI Jumping Ponies speed class on Marion Hughes’s Carrickaduff Pet. His compatriot Ella Quigley finished fourth in Saturday’s pony Grand Prix with Barbara O’Reilly-Hyland’s Rock Dee Jay. At senior level, Co Louth native Mark McAuley took fourth place in that evening’s five-star Masters with Eva Lundin’s Miebello.

There were low level wins in Olivia, Spain on Saturday for Wexford’s Michelle Kenny on Juicy and Galway’s Michael Duffy riding Evito while Waterford native Anthony Condon finished fourth with SFS Vincomte in Sunday’s two-star 1.45m Grand Prix. In a similar competition at Valencia, Spain Cameron Hanley and Jordan Kilkenny finished fifth and sixth on ESI Toulouse and Florida van Maarle respectively.