Michael Hughes Guides Luxina to $10,000 Shires Welcome Stake Victory‏

By Kenneth Kraus for Phelps Media Group

Halifax, MA – August 13, 2015 – The beautiful Fieldstone Show Park welcomed day two of the 2015 Silver Oak Jumper Tournament with a full day of action in both rings including a packed schedule on the Unicorn Landing Grand Prix field. This year’s tournament, booked to capacity, saw big numbers in almost every class of the day. With temperatures hovering in the mid 70’s and the skies mostly sunny, it was a great day to enjoy a good day of action. And despite the big numbers, everyone was off to enjoy a night out by dinner time.

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Michael Hughes and Luxina. Photo by Andrew Ryback.

The highlight of the afternoon was the final class of the day, the $10,000 Shire Equestrian Welcome Stake class with 37 starters. Once again, Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Germany is designing the courses for the jumpers on the big field and today came up with a Table II 2b course that saw six horses go clean initially and five go on to be double clear when all was said and done.

But, all wasn’t said and done immediately, even when the class was complete. As they say on Monday Night Football, “Let’s go to the video tape!”

First, let’s give you a rundown of how the day’s event unfolded. As we mentioned, scoring was Table II 2b, so riders that were able to produce the initial clean round stayed in the ring to complete their jump-off ride right away.

With Paul O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Dolphin leading the way as the first to go and the first to go clear, they proceeded to the tiebreaking course. Racing around the short course in the jump-off, the speedy O’Shea tripped the finish line timers in 32.991 seconds, a seemingly unbeatable time, at least for the time being.

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Paul O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Dolphin. Photo by Andrew Ryback.

As it turned out, no one even came close. But, with good reason.

Although it wasn’t immediately apparent, the timer beams tripped early on O’Shea’s jump-off ride. It became very evident though as the class proceeded and horse after speedy horse were way off the mark set by O’Shea and Dolphin.

When Michael Hughes and Luxina raced around the course fault-free in a blazing time of 40.529 seconds, everyone really began to take notice of the 32 second time. But O’Shea, because he went first, had no idea. “No I was first to go, so I obviously didn’t know what was up with the times,” O’Shea explained. “As they continued to jump-off, I didn’t pay that much attention, but a few other people said it to me.”

Hughes, who was initially clocked in eight seconds slower than O’Shea, knew something was mistaken. “I thought there had to be something wrong with the time. I mean maybe I was a bit slower, but I didn’t think I was THAT much slower than Paul,” he laughed. “I did all the inside turns and everything that Paul did, but I wasn’t eight seconds slower.”

When the class was completed, the judges had a chance to go back and check on the times. The timing system, required by the FEI, and one of the best in the business, records times every time a horse breaks any of the beams. The judges went back and looked at O’Shea’s time and found his true time to be 41.116 seconds, a half a second slower than Hughes.

Finishing in third place was Lauren Tisbo and Entre Nous. They crossed the finish line in 45.150 seconds, four seconds slower than O’Shea. Colin Syquia and Adventure E nailed down fourth place in 47.003 seconds.

Rounding out the top six were Diamonte Darco and Wilton Porter and O’Shea on his second mount, Primo Calypso. Porter galloped home in 47.265 seconds and O’Shea in 52.589 seconds.

For O’Shea, it’s his third year in a row at the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament, but for Hughes, it’s a first time visit. “It’s beautiful here,” he smiled. “The footing is great, the jumps are really nice and the courses are great…it’s really nice.”

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Shire Welcome Stake. Photo by Andrew Ryback.

Both riders enjoyed Olaf Petersen’s offering today. “I thought it was a really good course. It wasn’t overly big, but the time was tight which made you make a few mistakes here and there. I thought it was a good course that suited pretty much any horse as long as you rode it properly and the jump-off was a good jump-off as well depending on whether you were going in to school or whether you were just going in to try and win it,” detailed Hughes. “There were also a bunch of inside turns and a lot of options on it.”

“My thoughts are the very same,” said O’Shea. “I had a younger horse and it was perfect for him as well.”

And both were happy with the eventual outcome today. “Jeff Papows is always extremely fair and he’s always trying to look out for everybody, so I knew the situation would be handled properly,” said O’Shea.

“They did the right thing,” agreed Hughes. “Jeff has been great all week with helping us out for everything and anything that’s been an issue he’s fixed right away…he’s been great.”

“Every year it’s better and better and it’s nice to see the entries are really high this year,” O’Shea concluded.

The morning of the second day at Fieldstone Show Park began with a close race in the $2000 Open Jumper 1.30m Power and Speed (Table II 2c) with a field of 38. Last year Jeffery Welles finished in second place with Broken Heart, but managed to come out on top and win the class this year aboard Laracon with a speed phase time of 37.220 seconds. 1/10th of a second behind Welles was Lauren Tisbo on Hip Girl in 37.388 seconds, followed by Alan Griffin with 38.305 seconds on the scoreboard with Orient D’elle, who took home third place honors.

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Jeffery Welles and Laracon. Photo by Andrew Ryback.

The morning continued with more Power and Speed with the $2500 Open Jumper 1.40m. Vasco Flores, a first timer at the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament, on Central Park, grabbed the blue ribbon and stopped the timers at 32.486 seconds in the speed phase.

“My horse is very careful,” said Flores. “It’s a young horse – eight years old; he had the whole summer in Spruce, so he was pretty confident coming to this show. So I said, ‘Let’s give it a shot!’ and everything came out as we planned. The horse is very efficient crossing the ground. I actually didn’t do the option turns, but he’s very quick and very sharp at the fence,” he said. “I have to thank Georgina Bloomberg for giving me this opportunity and Jimmy Doyle who trains us. They’re a big contributor to this win for me.”

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Vasco Flores and Central Park. Photo by Andrew Ryback.

Coming in second was Blair Willmer on River Roc with a time of 35.188 seconds followed by Nick Dello Joio on Starkko in 35.229 seconds.

“I should have done the inside turn in the jump-off,” said Willmer. “The lines were nice; there were a couple of open lines and then it shut you down with the steady five and steady six, so you had to really think about that and get the horses back on their hocks. Olaf (Petersen) always builds great courses and he makes you think as a rider. He doesn’t do anything that traps the horse, but he makes the riders think – he’s a great course builder. River Roc responded perfectly and everywhere I wanted her to.”

“We came last year and we had a great show and we loved it, so we’re back,” added Willmer. “It’s busier this year, which is good to see, and there are some bigger names here, which is great. I think the competition is going to get a little hotter as the week goes on, which is good for everybody.”

Thursday’s schedule of events for the Unicorn Landing Grand Prix field continued on to the $1500 Low Jr/AO Jumper next with 43 entries prepared to race against the clock. The blue ribbon went to Hayden Stewart and Bingo who tripped the timers after their immediate jump-off in the Table II 2b class at 33.025 seconds. Second place went to Kim Schwarz and Cayun with a time of 35.065 seconds followed by Sima Morgello and Zopala in third, finishing in 36.757 seconds.

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Hayden Stewart and Bingo. Photo by Andrew Ryback.

“The course had a lot of left turns which definitely aren’t my strong suit,” laughed Stewart. “So my plan was to make sure I really had a definite place to look. I just really made sure that I was paying attention to that.”

“I’ve been to Fieldstone Show Park before, but this is my first time showing at the Silver Oak. Jumper Tournament,” continued Stewart. “I love it so far. The jumps are beautiful and there are so many people here. All of the tents and all of the rider accommodations are great too!”

The $2000 High Jr/AO Jumpers, also a Table II 2b class, ended with Jazz Johnson Merton and Corona SB in the winner’s circle – stopping the timers at 36.119 seconds.

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Jazz Johnson Merton and Corona SB. Photo by Andrew Ryback.

Merton explained her winning strategy as focusing on riding as calmly and smoothly as possible.”It’s always a little nerve racking to ride out in a big field,” said Merton. “I was just smooth everywhere and tried to stay smooth throughout my course.”

3/10ths of a second behind Merton was Brianne Link and Q Royal Palm in 36.433 seconds and Lucas T. Porter aboard Phineas closing out the top three of the class in 38.855 seconds.

“I wanted to stay strong,” said Link. “A couple of horses were having problems with the spookier jumps, but both of my horses were really brave. I just had to keep a good gallop around the whole time and go fast.”

“I was here last year,” continued Link. “I think this show is great. It’s is a beautiful horse show and I’m happy to be back!”

The Silver Oak Jumper Tournament at Fieldstone Show Park will welcome some special guests tomorrow as the production crew and personalities from NESN, the New England Sports Network, will be on the scene on Friday, broadcasting live from Fieldstone Show Park during the Boston Red Sox pre-game show on Friday. This is prior to their wall to wall coverage planned for Sunday’s main event, the $75,000 Agero Grand Prix.

Competition at the Fieldstone Show Park continues on Friday with a full day beginning at 9:00 a.m. featuring an Open Jumper 1.40m class to kick off the Unicorn Landing Grand Prix field’s schedule followed by two classes for Juniors and Amateurs (High and Low) leading up to the main event of the day which will be the Speed Derby set at 1.30m and scored under Table III (Faults Converted).

Fieldstone’s Summer Showcase Horse Show immediately follows the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament and offers impressive prize money from August 18-22, 2015. Highlighting the show week is the $50,000 Fieldstone Show Park Grand Prix plus additional $40,000 in supplementary prize money offered in other highlight classes. The week of competition offers events across jumper, hunter and equitation disciplines.

For 30 years, Fieldstone Show Park has stood as New England’s principal horse show venue, employing the finest terrain New England has to offer with all-weather draining base arenas with GGT Geo-Textile footing to create an environment conducive to top-tier equestrian competition. One hundred and six acres of arenas and beautiful grass fields make Fieldstone a truly world-class facility, and a perfect host for the summer’s events, culminating with the Fieldstone Summer Showcase.

For full results, go to www.horseshowing.com.

Photos by Andrew Ryback Photography www.andrewryback.com.