Wellington, Fla.—Feb. 15
By the time Paul O’Shea headed into the jump-off with Imerald van’t Voorhof as the 12th of 15 to go in the $210,000 CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix at the Palm Beach Masters, he knew he’d have a shot at a top placing since only one pair had gone clear.
But it wasn’t going to be easy, as he had crowd favorite Margie Engle and Royce coming up behind him.
O’Shea stopped the clock in 36.03 seconds and kept the rails up, and Engle chased him, but managed 36.78 seconds to settle for second.
The only other clear round in the jump-off came from Colombia’s Juan Manuel Gallego and Coulash van de Broy Z, who came in with a time of 39.36 seconds.
O’Shea, who rides for Ireland, has been paired with Tequestrian Farms LLC’s 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Emerald van’t Ruytershof—Falle-Rina van’t Voorhof, Bacardi-Orange de Muze) for about two years, although he’s for sale. “He’s a fantastic horse,” he said. “He was extremely consistent all last year. He was clear most of the time in any type of arena—under the lights, on the grass. He’s very scopey. The jumps always feel small, which is a nice feeling.”
O’Shea did have one tense moment in the jump-off when he lost his rein after fence three.
He just thought, “ ‘Keep going, Margie’s behind me!’ It took me a second to get organized,” he said. “I definitely did not get the distance going in that I wanted [to the next fence,] but he jumped it great. It wasn’t as wide as the first round, so that was probably a good thing. At the second to last, we heard it was jumping badly, but I didn’t want to think like that, so I just rode it as hard as I could.”
Watch O’Shea’s round via USEF Network.
“I know Paul is always really fast, and my horse is naturally not the quickest in the air,” said Engle. “The harder I kick him at the jumps the higher he gets, so I really wasn’t sure.”
Engle’s had the 15-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Café Au Lait—Petula, Grandilot), owned by Gladewinds Partners LLC, for nearly eight years.
“He’s been a friend and a partner of mine for going on eight years now,” she said. “He always had all the ability in the world, I just had to work on his rideability in between the jumps. He’s got a great personality, he’s really sweet, he gives it a shot every time. He might not be the quickest horse in the air, but he does try and leave the jumps up, and he’s got a great big heart and gives you everything he has.”
No one could have been happier to be in the press conference than Gallego.
“For me, it’s an honor to be here with them. This is my first time sitting here,” he said. “I just played my game because I jumped in the beginning of the jump-off. I tried to do a fast, clear round. He’s not the fastest horse, but the faster riders started to have rails down, so I was like, ‘OK.’ They made my finish a little bit better. I’m really happy.”
The 13-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Cadence VT Gelutt—Ulrike, Lys de Darmen) has been with Gallego for four years.
“He’s a good horse,” he said. “Sometimes when the ring is too crowded he’s not the easiest. The first day we had to show in the sand ring, so yesterday he was a bit tense, but today he jumped amazing.
“I’m really happy to be here,” he continued. “In South America we have really good riders. I had a really good day today. For me it’s one of the happiest days in my life.”
For full results, click here.
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Be sure to check out the March 11 print edition of the Chronicle for much more from the Palm Beach Masters.