Equestrian: Paul O’Shea dominates in North Carolina

Irish rider fills top two places in 29-runner class in 1.50m Grand Prix in Tryon

Paul O’Shea dominated in North Carolina. Photograph: Sportfot

Paul O’Shea dominated in North Carolina. Photograph: Sportfot


Ireland’s Paul O’Shea dominated the 1.50m Grand Prix in Tryon, North Carolina on Saturday night when filling the top two places in the 29-runner class.

Eight combinations qualified for the jump-off round over a track designed by Mexico’s Manuel Esparza with five of these again going clear against the clock.

Co Limerick-born O’Shea set the fastest time of 36.532 on board Skara Glen’s Presence, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Contendro which is owned by Skara Glen Stables, while he was second in 37.094 with Tequestrian Farms’ Imerald van’t Voorhof. The USA’s Todd Minikus finish third in 37.312 on Amex Z.

“The course rode well and obviously, I’m happy with how it went,” commented O’Shea who was breaking a run of second-place finishes at Tyron over the past few weeks. “They’re both very good horses and they’ve been going really well. They’re used to this level, now, too - even though they’re both 10, they’re both still a little inexperienced.

“Presence has a very big stride and he’s very uphill, which is helpful of course, and he’s very brave. He never hesitates and you can turn him back. He’ll always try. Imerald has a massive stride as well and is quite similar. He’s very uphill and light to ride and very scopey.”

After a successful fall season at Tryon, O’Shea plans to give both his mounts some well-earned time off before heading to Florida for the winter. “They’ll start back in WEF again and do some smaller classes and build back up. When I start them back I’ll see how they feel, rather than say they’ll jump week two at the Grand Prix, if they need smaller classes to build back up we’ll take it week by week.”

There was also an Irish one-two in Saturday’s 1.45m jump-off class in Stampede Park, Calgary in Canada where Co Down’s Conor Swail finished first on Eadaoin Collins’s Koss van Heiste ahead of Co Laois’s James Chawke riding Grasshopper.

In eventing, Saturday’s cross-country phase of the four-star competition at Pau in southern France had a major effect on the result with just 28 combinations jumping clear and only four of those doing so within the time allowed.

Twenty-one of the 60 starters failed to complete including the world No 1, Oliver Townend, who was unseated at the first of the angled hedges (fence 31a) from the Irish Sport Horse gelding Cillnabradden Evo on which he had been leading after dressage (22.7). New Zealand’s Tim Price, who had been lying fourth (25.3), also parted company from Ascona M at fence 10, a drop into water, while Germany’s Andreas Ostholt, who had finished third after dressage with Corvette 31 (25), dropped down to 29th on the leaderboard following a glance-off the brush-topped ‘skinny’ at 14.

Of the four riders who beat the clock, three were French including 23-year-old Thibault Fournier who, on his first start at a four-star event, improved from fifth after dressage to hold the overnight lead with the 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding Siniani de Lathus (25.5). Britain’s Gemma Tattersall climbed from 13th to second (29.9) when clear inside the time on Pamero 4 whose owner Clive Smith would be best-known in Ireland as owner of the former top racehorse Kauto Star .

Fellow British competitor Izzy Taylor, who had three rides in the class, picked up two time penalties across the country but still moved up from seventh to third on Be Touchable (now on 30.8) while, with the addition of 7.2 time penalties, her compatriot Ros Canter slipped from second to fourth on Zenshera (31.3). However, Canter, who won team and individual gold at last month’s World Equestrian Games, moved up to third when Taylor withdrew Be Touchable before the second horse inspection on Sunday morning and, should she stayed there or finish higher following the concluding show jumping phase, Canter will become the first female World No 1 since Mary King in 2011.

There was mixed luck for Ireland’s Joseph Murphy who made considerable moves up the leaderboard with his two rides.

In spite of a glance-off at the tall skinny brush (35b) off a turn on the 38-fence track, the Co Down-based rider improved from 57th to 31st with Sportsfield Othello (74.3) and from 58th to 15th with Fernhill Frankie on which he picked up 7.6 time penalties for a two-phase total of 47.9.

Two British internationals now living in Ireland were also in action at Pau. Co Kilkenny-based Nicky Roncoroni was the better placed of the pair in 13th following Saturday’s cross-country phase with Watts Burn (44.1) while Co Cork-based Sian Coleman completed in 24th spot with Kilroe Hero (61.4). As with Murphy, both moved up two places before the start of show jumping on Sunday following the withdrawal of Be Touchable and So Is Et which, ridden by Germany’s Ostholt, was in eighth.

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