Wednesday sees the start of Week 4 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida, while a second fixture in the same area at Deeridge Farms also gets underway.
Both fixtures are at four-star level and the Deeridge meeting includes an American round of the FEI World Cup. Apart from the strong Irish presence in situ for the three months of the WEF, the number is added to this week with the arrival of Bertram Allen and Billy Twomey.
Allen has brought Lafayette van Overis Z, GK Casper and Quiet Easy, while Twomey targets the Deeridge affair with the Grand Prix winner and Nations Cup mount Kimba Flamenco.
Shane Sweetnam, whose home base is in Wellington, is listed with his nations cup star Alejandro for the Deeridge meeting. So far this season the Cork rider has been bringing on some of his newer mounts as the WEF builds up through the levels. He won the first class on Week 1 with Zandora Z, and last Saturday night almost scooped the Week 3 Grand Prix with Karlin van’t Vennehof, coming in slightly shy on the clock as he chased the time of American winner Erin Davis Heineking on Leonie to take second on the 10-year-old Belgiam mare.
“It’s her first three-star ever and her first night class ever,” Sweetnam said. “She still has a bit of a ways to go with her rideability, but it’s getting better all the time. In the jump-off, maybe I could have been a touch faster, but she did a great job; I’m very happy with her.”
Nations Cup final winners Darragh Kenny, Cian O’Connor, and Paul O’Shea are among the other riders lining out at Deeridge, with O’Shea looking set to give an outing to Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu, his mount from that memorable victory in Barcelona last October.
The FEI World Cup round at Deeridge takes place on Sunday, while the WEF Grand Prix is staged on Saturday. Each carries prize money in excess of $200,000 (€181,646).
Irish dressage rider Anna Merveldt sustained a fracture to her arm in an non-riding accident last week. Merveldt was one of the Irish team which secured Olympic qualification at the European Championships last August. Due to have an operation on the injury this week, she told Eurodressage it was “nothing serious” and she expected to be “back in the saddle soon”.
The Irish eventing team’s fundraising ‘Take On Tokyo’ tour visits Cork, Louth, and Wicklow next week. Maryville will be the Cork venue on Friday, February 7, followed by Ravensdale, Louth on Saturday February 8 and Spruce Lodge, Wicklow on Sunday February 9.
Eventers participating include Clare Abbott, Aoife Clark, Cathal Daniels, Sarah Ennis, Brian Morrison, Joseph Murphy, Austin O’Connor, Elizabeth Power, Camilla Speirs, Mike and Trish Ryan, and Sam Watson.
The programme includes advice on arena familiarisation, young and advanced horse dressage and show jumping training, meet-and-greet opportunities and a question-and-answer session.