Wednesday, May. 22, 2024

O’Shea Kicks On To Win At The Hampton Classic

Bridgehamton, N.Y.—Aug. 29  

The Irish dominated the Hampton Classic yet again in Saturday’s $40,000 Longines Cup. Paul O’Shea guided the Irish-bred stallion Skara Glen's Dolphin to the fastest double clear of the day—scoring a nice paycheck and Longines watch.

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Bridgehamton, N.Y.—Aug. 29  

The Irish dominated the Hampton Classic yet again in Saturday’s $40,000 Longines Cup. Paul O’Shea guided the Irish-bred stallion Skara Glen’s Dolphin to the fastest double clear of the day—scoring a nice paycheck and Longines watch.


Paul O’Shea rebounded from a rough go the day before to claim top check in the $40,000 Longines Cup aboard Skara Glen’s Dolphin. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

It was sweet redemption for O’Shea, because during Friday’s $50,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier, O’Shea fell hard with Skara Glen’s Sienna and was eliminated. But O’Shea, an international competitor who has lived in Wellington, Fla., for years, pushed the crash to the back of his mind as he prepared for the Longines Cup.

“I didn’t want to dwell on it. It’s the best thing to get it out of your mind,” he said. “It actually took me a long, long time to learn to go forward after I made a mistake. But now I’ve learned that, if I make a mistake, I say to myself, ‘I know something good is going to happen next.'”

The field of 32 for Saturday’s class was cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd of well-heeled Hamptonites. The 1.50-meter course, designed by Guilherme Jorge (who is also slated to be course designer for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games), asked tough questions of horse and rider. The blue-and-white Longines triple combination proved difficult for most of the field, the rails repeatedly falling from 7B, an oxer, and 7C, a vertical.  Like yesterday’s $50,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix, the course finished over a narrow vertical—this time coming up quickly after the water jump. The obstacle was a heartbreaker for many otherwise clear horse-rider combinations.

In the end, there were five zero-faulters heading into the jump-off. Hayley Barnhill and Zephire kicked things off with a blazing clear in a time of 42.50 seconds. Jeffery Welles and Georgina Bloomberg each had 4 faults and Molly Ashe-Cawley and Balous Day Date put in a clear but came in more than a second slower than Barnhill. 

But it was the last in order to land on top. O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Dolphin edged their way into first place by turning tight to Fences 2 and 4, stopping time just under a second faster than Barnhill.

After the awards were presented and photo ops taken, Paul and Dolphin galloped over to the grandstand and handed their blue into the crowd. Paul later explained that his aunt, uncle, and cousin had made a surprise visit, so he had a little extra Irish luck cheering him on.

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“They were here last year too, but they said they didn’t want to disturb me before the class. But I could hear them when I finished!” O’Shea said.

At the press conference, the top three were asked about the tricky turn to Fence 4 of the jump-off—a large oxer that came up fast off the turn. All the riders agreed they were conservative there, favoring clean over fast. O’Shea was quick to credit his horse, Skara Glen’s Dolphin. “I definitely got stuck in that turn but my horse was fantastic and came through. In a situation like that you just have to keep going forward,” he said.

This is Dolphin’s first year on the grand prix circuit but success has come quickly for the 10-year-old stallion (Heartbreaker—ISHD First Chance, Concorde).  With today’s win, and another in the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament’s (Mass.) $75,000 Agero Grand Prix just two weeks ago, Dolphin is proving his worth. “He’s very easy for a stallion,” O’Shea said, adding, “most the time he’s really lazy and half asleep, but he lights up when he goes into the ring.” 

Before the press conference wrapped Olympic veteran Peter Leone made a surprise appearance, complimenting O’Shea for his win and crediting him as a fine example for young people in the sport. He called attention to Paul’s ability to come back and win after an unfortunate elimination in the day before, asking how he’s able to clear the slate and move on from disappointment.  “Mistakes used to stick with me but not anymore,” said O’Shea.

The morning’s highlights included the Sam Edelman Equitation Classic, which kicked off bright and early under sunny skies.  Daisy Farish led with a 94 after Round 1, with Tori Colvin’s score of 93 nipping closely at her heels. 

In round 1, a black-and-white vertical set on atop the hill came up fast for the horses—resulting in more than a few rails and refusals. In Round 2, time was the menace with nearly everyone collecting time faults. 

In the end, Colvin and the big grey, Avalanche, executed a beautiful second round—within the time allowed—and topped the field with a combined score of 185. T.J. O’Mara was second with a score of 170 and Emily Perez secured the third position with 165 points.

For Colvin this win was extra special, as she explained, “I’ve done this class four times and have been second the last two years. It was really nice to win it today.” 


Tori Colvin added the Sam Edelman Equitation Classic title to her resume after winning aboard Avalanche. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

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The hilltop vertical that caused so much trouble didn’t faze the junior at all. “I thought the course was easier than last year. This was the first year there was no water in the first round and we didn’t really have a bank, just a jump on the hill,” she said. “I loved that the time allowed was tight. I like to just pick up the canter and go!”

See full results from the Hampton Classic…

Outside the ring there was plenty of action taking place.  It was Optimum Kid’s Day and the petting zoo was in full swing. Sheep, lamas, alpacas, and pigs were on hand to endure a day of curious children.  Deuce the lama was led out of his pen for a walk and treated amused onlookers to a few selfies. The pigs hadn’t bothered to wake-up but with the rapid influx of youngsters there’d soon be no choice.


Horses weren’t the only animals showing off for kids, as the petting zoo delighted lots of children. Photo by Ashley Fairfield

Also on hand was the Bellini Family Circus. There was juggling, magic tricks, and face painting. It’s not a party without kiddie karaoke and the under-10 crowd proved surprisingly well versed in Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga hits. A stilt-walker wandered the area, just wobbly enough that onlookers gave a wide-berth. 


The stilt-walker certainly had a unique view of the show! Photo by Ashley Fairfield


There were lots of temptations in vendor row! Photo by Ashley Fairfield


Need a handbag? Photo by Ashley Fairfield

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