Devon, Pa.—May 29
It’s not easy to outrun the likes of McLain Ward and Todd Minikus when they’re kicking on, but in tonight’s $100,000 Grand Prix of Devon, Paul O’Shea and Primo de Revel left them in the dust.
“Todd is one of the fastest riders in the world, and Paul kicked his butt,” said Ward who finished third behind them with a clear round on Rothchild, and took seventh as well on HH Ashley. “I don’t think it was going to be very easy to beat him tonight.
Even course designer Olaf Petersen was astounded at Primo de Revel’s foot speed.
“He seems to be very quiet, not nervous at all,” said Petersen. “When you see him in the first round you think, ‘I don’t think he can be that fast.’ ”
But he certainly was.
Watch O’Shea and Primo de Revel’s speedy jump-off course below courtesy of Shownet.
O’Shea counted on his seven-year partnership with the 13-year-old Belgian (Quinault—Orfa van de Elshoeve, Lys de Darmen) to let him go for broke.
“Before the jump-off, no, I didn’t think I could beat McLain [on Rothchild],” said the 37-year-old Irishman. “But when you get in the ring you have to convince yourself you’re going to win. If you don’t believe you’re going to win, you have no chance.”
He sent Minikus, next in the ring, riding hell bent for leather trying to catch up, but Quality Girl couldn’t quite make the time. He did make for an exciting jump-off though, as that mare’s left snaffle rein snapped over the top of an oxer mid-course.
Watch Minikus and Quality Girl below. (Turn the sound up to hear the full house get into the excitement.)
Amazingly, the jump-off wasn’t the most dramatic part of the evening. Last to go in the first round, Lisa Jacquin took a tumble when Chapel Z crashed through the last fence. She was up on her feet immediately, but it was still a scary few minutes. Chapel Z’s bridle broke during the fall and came off his head completely, but trailed him as it was attached by the running martingale. He tripped on it a few strides later, nearly going down, further spooking him, and the bridle partly wrapped around his front leg as he toured the ring. After a few minutes, the ring crew and staff caught him and led him safely out.
Nine riders made it around the course fault-free, one more than course designer Olaf Petersen expected. Petersen thought O’Shea had the edge from when the riders walked the course, as he was the only rider who reviewed the course with him.
“The last time I jumped one of Olaf’s tracks he won as well at Silver Oak,” said O’Shea. “I went through the course with Olaf that time too, so it worked out well. I stuck to the plan.”
Petersen appreciated the conversation, admitting that O’Shea was right about one line they disagreed on.
“Everyone can come to me,” he said. “Of course for me it’s important to get the riders’ comments when they walk the course—if they think it’s too big or too easy. If they don’t say anything, then I think maybe it’s too easy.”
O’Shea got his start training horses for his father to sell in Limerick, Ireland, then spent seven years in Sweden working for top riders like Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Royne Zetterman, and did stints with the likes of Cian O’Connor and John Whitaker as well.
He came to the United States four years ago, originally to work for Harry Gill and Sherry Robertson who live 20 minutes from Devon, but he’d never attended the show until this time. These days O’Shea rides for Skara Glen Stables in Wellington, Fla., and Georgina Bloomberg.