Paul O’Shea (IRL) flew straight to the top in the $132,000 Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport Grand Prix CSI 3* in a time of 36.532 seconds on the short course aboard Skara Glen’s Presence, a 2008 Holsteiner gelding (Contendro x Nekton) owned by Skara Glen Stables. O’Shea also landed in second place aboard Imerald Van’t Voorhof, a 2008 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Emerald Van’t Ruytershof x Bacardi-Orange De Muze) owned by Tequestrian Farms, LLC, with a time of 37.094 seconds. Todd Minikus (USA) piloted Amex Z, a 2009 Zangersheide mare (Andiamo Z x Landaris) owned by Bit by Bit Group, to third after a 37.312 second performance in Tryon Stadium at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC).
Mexico’s Manuel Esparza set the stage for a competitive jump-off on a track that tested both long gallops and tight turns, which O’Shea complimented. “The course rode well. Obviously, I’m happy with how it went. It was a very nice track and a very nice result with eight clear in the first round. I think it was a really good course,” he continued. “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 ten, they’re both still a little inexperienced.”
After achieving a string of second place finishes in FEI classes for the past few weeks at Tryon, O’Shea was thrilled to step to the top of the podium and finish his season strong, especially against stiff competition.
“Going into the jump-off, Todd was in the lead, and he’s one of the fastest riders in the world without a doubt. Kent was last, who is one of the fastest in the world without a doubt, too, and so there was no point not to go as fast as we could,” he explained.
O’Shea praised both his mounts for being brave, scopey and willing partners. “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.”
“Maybe to the second fence I saved some time and I think I did eight strides to number three. I think Todd did nine, so I think that’s where I got him. Otherwise we were quite even,” elaborated O’Shea.
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.”