By Kenneth Kraus for Phelps Media Group
Fieldstone Show Park – August 16, 2015 – For the third year in a row, the luck of the Irish prevailed at the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament, and this time it belonged to Paul O’Shea. Claiming the victory in 2013, O’Shea came back this year to not only win the $75,000 Agero Grand Prix, but also take the second place spot over Olympian McLain Ward, who eventually claimed third and fourth place.
Paul O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Dolphin. Photo by Andrew Ryback.
Spectators gathered at the Unicorn Landing Grand Prix Sunday afternoon for the chance to see some of the world’s biggest names in show jumping compete head to head for $75,000 in prize money. The class posted a star-studded show jumping lineup with 34 entries competing under Table II 2a format. After the first round, 17 returned to the grass field for a jump-off round which turned into a battle between McLain Ward and Paul O’Shea for the top spots on the leader board.
Ward was the first to jump-off aboard HH Ashley and set the bar high finishing in a speedy time of 45.286 seconds.
Three more riders tried to catch Ward’s time in their jump-off round, but only O’Shea and Primo De Revel, last year’s third place finishers behind fellow Irishman Kevin Babington and winners in 2013, were able to do it. The pair beat Ward and HH Ashley by three seconds with a time of 42.743 seconds.
Ward had one more shot at O’Shea with his second mount, Retiro, who produced a faster round than HH Ashley, but it was not close enough as they stopped the timers at 43.002 seconds.
McLain Ward and Retiro. Photo by Andrew Ryback.
It looked as if O’Shea would take first and Ward would take second, until O’Shea came back as the second to last to go with his third mount of the class, and beat Ward’s second place time in 42.685 seconds – knocking Ward into third place.
Michael Hughes and Luxina, Thursday’s Welcome Stake winners, had the chance to end the battle between Ward and O’Shea as the last pair to enter the ring for the jump-off, but were unsuccessful after finishing with eight jump faults and a time of 45.775 seconds.
With O’Shea taking the top two spots of the class, coming in third last year and winning the Grand Prix for the first time in 2013, he was no stranger to the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament’s Grand Prix winner’s podium.
O’Shea contributed a great deal of his win to Skara Glen’s Dolphin’s owner, Ira Gumberg, for giving him the opportunity to compete the talented horse.
“I’ve been really lucky in this class,” said O’Shea after posing for pictures with fans and signing autographs after his win. “It feels great. All of my horses jumped super today, they couldn’t have gone any better and I’m very happy with them.
“Of course, McLain was the one the watch,” O’Shea continued. “His round was brilliant; he was so smooth. My plan was to leave out a stride to the double, which worked out, and that was it really other than to obviously go as fast as I could without getting flat. Skara Glen’s Dolphin has just stepped up to this level and he’s a fantastic horse. He’s very naturally fast, very rideable and very balanced so obviously we were going to try and do as well as we could, even though I was already in the lead with Primo De Revel, because Michael was still behind us and he was always going to be a danger.”
Paul O’Shea and Primo De Revel. Photo by Andrew Ryback.
After a hard fought battle, Ward and Retiro finished in a very respectable third place and reflected on how his plans changed after watching O’Shea beat his time with HH Ashley.
“Ashley was great, but she’s not a super fast horse,” admitted Ward. “She doesn’t have that ground-covering stride and so I wasn’t surprised when Paul beat me, but I was surprised at how much he beat me by. I decided to do two leave outs and I was going to try to do one less to fence one to two, but I didn’t, I didn’t believe in it. Maybe in a perfect world I would’ve gotten it, but there wasn’t much more I could do. I tried to do everything I could on Retiro, he responded great, but Paul had two great rounds and he was going to be very difficult to beat today.”
With O’Shea being a seasoned Silver Oak Jumper Tournament champion and Ward competing at the new Fieldstone Show Park for the first time, both riders have plans to continue attending the show in the future.
“I absolutely plan to come back,” said Ward. “I think it’s a nice event. It’s a beautiful field, it has a great atmosphere and it was a nice day of sport.”
“Jeff has done a super job organizing the show every year,” said O’Shea. “I can’t imagine how much work goes in to it. He deserves a lot of credit for that, and the young horse classes here too are a great idea. It just keeps getting better.”
The organizers of the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament gave spectators a fun-filled day, complete with a beautiful opening ceremony before the highlight event. Once the Boston Mounted Park Police Color Guard left the field after the National Anthem, Jeff Papows entered the ring to greet the crowd, thank sponsors and announce the winners of the Vespa Scooter, provided Herb Chambers, and the Leading Rider trophy.
Just as in the past two years, the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament holds a draw between each of the champions of the show’s major divisions such as the Open Jumpers, Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers, Master’s and Child/Adult Jumpers. Each champion met on the field and drew a key at random to test in the scooter’s ignition. Whoever’s key started the scooter, won!
After hearing “Oh, No!” time after time as riders tried their luck at starting the scooter, Sima Morgello’s key was finally successful.
Morgello took the first spin on her new Vespa Scooter around the field with trainer, Devin Ryan, at the wheel. Shortly after, Papows along with last year’s Leading Rider trophy award winner, Kevin Babington, announced that Andy Kocher had won the Leading Rider trophy for 2015.
Jeff Papows and Kevin Babington with Leading Rider Andrew Kocher. Photo by Andrew Ryback.
Earlier in the day, riders at the opportunity showcase their skills in the $15,000 D & G Ventures Mini Prix. Forty-seven entries attempted to clear the first round course, designed by Olaf Petersen, Jr., in a time allowed of 76 seconds. Twenty were able to do so and advance to the immediate jump-off.
Molly Ashe-Cawley led the victory gallop on her catch-ride for the week, Vernal, who she finished in second on in the $7,500 Farm Family Speed Derby on Friday. The pair went double clear and finished with a speedy time of 37.647 seconds. Vasco Flores, also double clear, was 2/10ths of a second too slow with Central Park, tripping the timers in 37.850 seconds for second place. Coming in third was Wilton Porter and Patriot, who also won the $4,000 Open Jumper 1.40m on Friday, with a time of 38.230 seconds.
Molly Ashe-Cawley and Vernal. Photo by Andrew Ryback.
For Ashe-Cawley and Flores, the Mini Prix was their last class in this year’s Silver Oak Jumper Tournament. “It’s always been a fun horse show,” she said. “These are nice classes. I think not having to jump a 1.50m to win some money is nice and all the kids, professionals and amateurs are all bunched together so it keeps us old folks on our toes with all these youngsters chasing us. I think it’s a fun event for spectators and has a nice family feel to it.”
“I agree with Molly,” added Flores. “The show has a very strong family vibe to it, but at the same time it’s very competitive and allows for a chance for your horses to develop competitively.”
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.
RESULTS: $75,000 Agero Grand Prix
1 18 Skara Glen’s Dolphin Paul O’Shea
2 20 Primo De Revel Paul O’Shea
3 465 Retiro McLain Ward
4 467 Hh Ashley McLain Ward
5 385 Gentley Filip de Wandel
6 19 Primo Calypso Paul O’Shea
7 32 Entre Nous Lauren Tisbo
8 89 Paloubet Wilton Porter
9 410 Contiki Nick Dello Joio
10 321 Le Conte Andrew Kocher
11 452 Luxina Michael Hughes
12 185 Virginia W Z Julie Welles