Paul O’Shea and Instant Karma, winners of the $20,000 ESP Welcome Stake.
A half a second behind, Charlie Jacobs finishes second with Flaming Star
Hampton Falls, NH – August 8, 2013 – Irish eyes were smiling on a day that started with overcast skies and a hint of rain, but ended in brilliant sunshine in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, as Paul O’Shea and his long-time partner Instant Karma topped a strong field of fifty-five competitors to take the win in the $20,000 ESP Welcome Stake class, the first of the big money classes headed into the big weekend here at the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament.
Munich, Germany’s Olaf Petersen, Jr. is designing the tests out on the huge grass field and today came up with the perfect course, one that yielded fourteen clear rides from the fifty-five that went to the post. Of those fourteen, eight horse and rider combinations went on to be double clear in the chase for the title over the short course.
“I think it worked out pretty well,” said Petersen. “The thing is, it’s only a 1.40m class, but it has to be a little more difficult. It was technical enough with three combinations and some of the jumps at 1.45m. Also, I’m trying to judge how good is the level of riders and horses for the Sunday grand prix. My plan was not to scare them already, but to see what I had in the class,” he said.
Petersen always builds in a progression, leading up to the main event, which in this case is the $75,000 Equestrian Estate Planning Group Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon. “And this is really the only chance that I can see the horses and see how to judge for Sunday.”
Speaking of the facility here at Silver Oak, Petersen said, “It’s great. It’s amazing. There are not many places like this in all of the world and the footing is very good. Though it was raining a bit early this morning, the field is still perfect and there’s not one place to complain.”
That’s pretty much been the sentiment of all of the riders competing here this year. Leslie Howard called Silver Oak “the Spruce Meadows of the East.” Another rider said the grass footing is “like a carpet.”
Those ideal conditions led to the fourteen clear, but in the jump-off it was decided right away with the first three to return for the tiebreaker taking the top three spots in the final order.
The first to master the first round course and first pair to return, Charlie Jacobs and CMJ Sporthorses’ Flaming Star made it look easy the second time around as well, dodging the in-ring photographer and still putting up a stellar time of 45.025 seconds, a time that in the end would be a half a second too slow.
Darragh Kenny challenged next with the flashy chestnut Quiz, owned by Oakland Ventures, but crossed the finish line 9/10ths of a second off the pace set by Jacobs, tripping the timers in 45.961 seconds.
And then, as the third to go, O’Shea and his mare sealed the deal on the Welcome Stake.
With a quick start over fence #1, O’Shea and Instant Karma were off and running and never let up until the end. Neat and tidy all the way around and then a great cut to the double combination headed for home and a fast gallop to the final oxer set O’Shea up for the win as he raced across the finish line in 44.547 seconds, the only rider on the day to break through the 45 second barrier.
“She’s been a great mare for me,” said a beaming O’Shea following his victory gallop. “I’ve had her since she was a foal, so a long time. I bought her with a friend of mine and she’s been a really, really successful mount for me.”
O’Shea talked about his winning ride.
“I thought to come to the first jump on the left rein. I thought that would be a faster approach and it turned out to be right,” he explained. “It gave me a straighter line to the second fence. Coming around to fence #9, it was important to stick close to the oxer in passing and we did that. Fence nine was a big enough oxer, that’s for sure. And then it was a matter of keeping the pace through the turn for home, over the double combination. Finally, it was eight very long strides to the last fence. I saw Charlie Jacobs, the first to go, was able to get the eight, so I thought I’d have a go at it too,” he said.
O’Shea found a great gallop to that final fence and Instant Karma gave him a huge effort to seal the win. “Walking the course, that was actually a normal ten stride walk, so you think, going against the clock you could do nine, right? But to get the eight strides, you really have to go to get that and we did.”
“She’s very good in her turns, very rideable, very balanced, and that’s makes it a lot easier to get the job done,” O’Shea added. “But, I really think I won it going to number one; I think I saved a lot of time coming off that left rein.”
“I love this place. I think it’s the nicest show I’ve ever been to really,” O’Shea commented. “It’s a beautiful setting. It’s a dream for any horse or rider. The ground is absolutely fantastic and they have everything for us. Food, fruit, water, they even have carrots for the horses, they just really want to look after us and make sure we’re happy. The stalls are huge. I can’t say enough nice things about this show.”
Speaking of the big grand prix field, O’Shea noted, “A good grass surface is very rare these days. The horses love it and we riders really love it, so it’s great to have that.”
“Hopefully I’ll have three horses ready to go on Sunday and we can bring that one home as well,” he said in conclusion.
As we mentioned the first three were all alone at the top of the leaderboard.
Finishing in fourth place, almost four seconds off the winning pace was Ramiro Quintana and St. Bride’s Farms’ Whitney. Quintana tripped the timers in 48.416 seconds. Fifth place went to Goodwin’s Loyalty, owned and shown by Kevin Babington. They crossed the finish line in 48.531 seconds. Babington nailed down sixth place as well, stopping the clock in 49.119 seconds on Shorapur, owned by Shorapur LLC.
Ziedento, another St Bride’s Farm entry, finished seventh with Ramiro Quintana in the irons and eighth place went to Lilli, owned by the Gotham Enterprizes and shown by Georgina Bloomberg.
Earlier in the day, Paul Halpern guided Super G to victory in the Open Jumpers 1.30m Power and Speed. Halpern was clean through the Power phase and raced home in the Speed phase in 34.724 seconds for the win.
It was a narrow victory as Leslie Howard finished just 2/10ths of a second off the pace to take home second place honors with Moon Doggie and then finished third with Zaragoza. Howard broke the beams in 34.954 seconds with Moon Doggie for the red ribbon and crossed the finish line in 35.518 with Zaragoza.
Halpern returned to pick up the white ribbon for fourth place with Marquis, finishing the speed phase in 36.549 seconds.
Kevin Babington and Lauren Tisbo rounded out the top six placings with Tamina and Sting Van de Withoeve.
Tomorrow, Open, Junior-A/O Jumpers and the popular Pro Am team competition takes center stage.
The $75,000 Equestrian Estate Planning Group Grand Prix dominates the Sunday schedule in Hampton Falls as an elite group of top riders will vie for big prize money in the class and the $25,000 Boston Strong Bonus. The $25,000 cash prize will go to any horse and rider combination that win both the $75,000 Equestrian Estates Planning Group Grand Prix at Silver Oak and the Grand Prix at Fieldstone next week. Sunday’s Grand Prix is preceded by the $15,000 Agero Speed Classic.
Saturday’s session features a number of exciting show jumping competitions, including the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Classics for top Junior and Amateur Owner Jumpers and the $15,000 DG Ventures Speed Derby, a challenging test over 18-20 obstacles in a race for the title.