Irish show jumper Niall Grimes died yesterday after suffering a massive heart attack during an event in Kentucky last weekend. The 31 year old Florida-based rider was attended by medics immediately after collapsing by the ringside on Saturday and was taken to the Coronary Care Unit at St Joseph's Hospital in Kentucky where he remained in a coma over the following few days.
From Enniscrone in Sligo where his parents, Liam and Carmel, ran the family-owned Castle Arms Hotel, Grimes' career took off after going to the US in 1999 and he rode on Irish Nations Cup teams in Wellington, Florida on several occasions. In March 2006 he lined out for Ireland despite having fractured his tibia in a fall a few weeks earlier, riding with his leg strapped up but typically determined and proud to be selected to represent his country.
Niall, who trained in accountancy but opted for show jumping instead, spent his time between his stables at Loxachatee near Wellington and the Firestone family's Newstead Farm in Middleburg and was in great demand as both a trainer and a rider. With his top horse, Mr President, he finished third in the hotly-contested Grand Prix in Kentucky in May.