DARIEN, CONNECTICUT – June 20, 2015 – Glorious early summer warmth, sunny skies and gentle breezes set the stage for a terrific week of equestrian sport during the annual Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show. Now in its 85th year, the show has seen a resurgence with nearly 500 horses and ponies on hand to compete during the week’s various events which culminated in the $25,000 Ox Ridge Grand Prix presented by World Equestrian Center. Hundreds of spectators gathered under the tent and around the grass field on Saturday to watch as an unprecedented field of forty riders contested the feature event, with Ireland’s Paul O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Presence ultimately emerging victorious.
The afternoon was a crowd-pleaser as horse and rider combinations negotiated the challenging course with, ten of the combinations achieving clear rounds to return for the jump off. Excitement built during the final round as O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Presence battled local favorite Georgina Bloomberg and her lovely mare South Street in blazing fast clear rounds that caused the cheering crowd to come to their feet more than once.
In the end, O’Shea captured the top honors, beating Bloomberg who smiled graciously during the award ceremony, displaying her characteristic good sportsmanship. For his efforts, O’Shea earned the top prize money as well as the Michael S. Griffin Memorial Trophy and a summer lease on a 2016 MINI Cooper, donated by sponsor Callari Auto Group.
The win was a special pre-Father’s Day treat for O’Shea whose six-month old twins, Ruairi and John, were in attendance with O’Shea’s wife Siobahn to see their father take home the day’s top honors. For the event O’Shea piloted 8-year old Skara Glen’s Presence, a horse that he has been partnered with for two years. With obvious affection for the horse O’Shea explained that he had campaigned Skara Glen’s Presence in Europe last year in the 7-year old classes, noting that the horse jumped 25 rounds in total – 20 of which he jumped clear. Always self-effacing, O’Shea was eager to recognize his support team, and in particular Ira Gumberg, who owns Skara Glen’s Presence.
O’Shea called the Grand Prix track designed by Connecticut-native Nick Granat “ideal” adding “Nick did a great job, it was a good test but fair to the horses and the time was just right.” O’Shea described his mount as a horse with a lot of blood who never gets tired, going on to explain, “he’s not a tense or nervous horse at all, he just has a lot of energy.” The pair has been working on smoothing out their rounds and it appears the work has paid off as they delivered two fast and foot perfect rounds to emerge victorious this weekend.
One of the oldest horse show in America, the Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show features several perpetual trophies, which are awarded throughout the week. Notable among them are the Charlie Weaver Memorial Trophy, donated by his friends and awarded to the Top Hunter Rider. Amber Harte earned the trophy this year, which was presented by show secretary Cheryle Francis, a close friend of the late horseman.
Additional trophy winners included Hannah Lupica on Samba – The Lydia F. Theurkauf Memorial Trophy Best Child Rider on a Horse; Abby Lefkowitz on Valmont won the The Callari Auto Group Trophy awarded to the Children’s Hunter Classic winner; The Angel’s Flight Berkley Faul Matthews Memorial Trophy was awarded to the Small Jr. Hunter Champion Eliza Bienstock on Playlist; The Mrs. R. Memorial Trophy for Best Child Rider on a Pony went to Emily Aitken on Woodlands Stevie Ray and the Christina Weaver Memorial Trophy for Children’s/Adult Jumpers went to Gabriella Greco on Arthos A.Ria.
The beneficiary of this year’s event was the Pegasus Therapeutic Riding program, an equine-assisted activities and therapies program for children and adults with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities hosted year-round at the Ox Ridge Hunt Club facility.
About Ox Ridge Hunt Club
Ox Ridge Hunt Club celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2014. Originally operated as a dairy farm, the club’s name represents the use of oxen on the working farm as well as the ridge that crowns the pristine 22-acre field, the crown jewel of the property. Today the club is situated on 37 acres and encompasses extensive outdoor and indoor equestrian facilities, as well as a training operation for top level horses and riders, managed by Irish Grand Prix rider Alan Griffin. Ox Ridge remains one of the finest equestrian properties in Fairfield County.
About World Equestrian Center
Dedicated to providing the ultimate horse show experience, the facility is designed and managed with the horse and rider in mind. Located in Ohio’s ‘Golden Triangle’ the World Equestrian Center is less than one hour from Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton airports. For more information please visit www.WorldEquestrianCenter.com.
About Pegasus Therapeutic Riding
Pegasus Therapeutic Riding’s mission is to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities and challenges through equine-assisted activities and therapies. Pegasus provides equine-assisted activities and therapies to more than 225 children and adults with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. For more information please visit www.pegasustr.org.