Equestrian: David Blake best of the Irish in Florida

Blake finishes fifth in $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival

David Blake finished fifth in Florida.

David Blake finished fifth in Florida.

 

US-based David Blake finished best of the Irish when fifth in Saturday night’s $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida.

There were 40 starters in the five-star class at the Palm Beach Equestrian Center with eight of these going clear over the first round 1.60m course set by the 2016 Rio Olympic Games designer, Guilherme Jorge of Brazil.

Blake was the only one of the five Irish riders in the competition to do so and the Co Clare native, who was first to go against the clock, set a steady round clear in 44.36 with Pine Hollow Farm’s 10-year-old Holstein gelding Keoki. While three others had faults in the second round, Blake’s time was only good enough for fifth as the USA’s Mclain Ward topped the podium when recording his clear in 37.42 with HH Azur.

The WEF concludes on Sunday, ending a 12-week circuit of top jumper, hunter, and equitation competition which awarded more than $9 million in prize-money.

Earlier in the day in Europe, there was a win in the 1.45m jump-off class at Bonheiden in Belgium for Ireland’s David Simpson riding Charlotte Platt’s 11-year-old Anglo European stallion Jenson 55.

On the third week of the spring Mediterranean Equestrian Tour at Oliva Nova in Spain, Co Tyrone’s Jenny Rankin finished third in Saturday’s 1.50m Grand Prix with Deirdre Bourns’s 11-year-old Bennys Legacy. One of only four riders to progress to the second round over a course set by Ireland’s Alan Wade, Rankin had a fence down against the clock in 39.93 as New Zealand’s Samantha McIntosh claimed the first prize with her second round clear on Check In 2 (41.50).

There is a large Irish contingent competing at the Belton horse trials in England where there was a guest appearance by Ireland’s Jonty Evans who continues to recover from the severe head injury he suffered at Tattersalls early last summer. Riding Cooley Rorkes Drift, on which he won the 2018 Grantham Cup at Belton, Evans (47) paraded in company with Irish teammates, Padraig McCarthy and Austin O’Connor, before cantering alone around the arena and jumping a fence.

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