O’Neill Show Jumping’s 10-year-old mare records her first grand prix victory.
By Catie Staszak / Catie Staszak Media, Inc.
Uma O’Neill entered the main arena at the Horse Park at Woodside with a plan. Aboard O’Neill Show Jumping’s Edelweiss, O’Neill was second of eight to return for the jump-off in the $24,500 BayFest Grand Prix. And she wanted to put the pressure on the quick combinations that followed her.
As every jump came up as she’d hoped, O’Neill navigated the first double-clear effort in the class. It would prove to be the only one. O’Neill and Edelweiss secured the victory, with no combination able to match their performance. It marked the first victory in grand prix competition for Edelweiss, a 10-year-old Oldenburg mare (Clinton x Landfrieden). Bretton Chad and The Pugilist finished second, with Harley Brown and Carma Z third.
“There was a tight inside turn that I wanted to do, and my plan was to go and be and fast as I could!” O’Neill said. “I wanted to start with a good rhythm and maintain it throughout. I was able to put the pressure on early to go fast and clear, and it worked out for us!
“It felt really good to win a grand prix with her,” she added. “I’ve felt like I was really close for the past few months. She’s put in a lot of fantastic rounds, and today was finally her day.”
O’Neill has been partnered with Edelweiss since early in the mare’s 8-year-old year, when O’Neill Show Jumping’s own Mariano Maggi scouted the grey at breeder Friederlike Nienaber’s farm in Germany. The year 2021 has undoubtedly been Edelweiss’ best. With O’Neill at the reins, the mare has placed among the top five in her last three grand prix outings; she also recorded her first international podium placing at La Silla (MEX) in April.
“This year has been a really big turning point for her,” O’Neill said. “She’s getting really consistent and predictable in the ring. I feel like we’ve formed a really good partnership.”
July is set to be a most-exciting month for O’Neill Show Jumping, as O’Neill and her longtime mount Clockwise of Greenhill Z are set to represent New Zealand in the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games. Named the Traveling Reserves, the pair will depart for Europe from their Santa Cruz, CA base and spend a week at New Zealand Chef d’Equipe Gilbert Böckmann’s farm in Lastrup, Germany before undergoing quarantine in Aachen. From there, it’s full steam ahead to Tokyo, which will mark O’Neill’s first senior championship.
“Every rider dreams of representing their country in an event like the Olympic Games,” O’Neill said. “I am very grateful for this opportunity, for both myself and my horse. We will be ready for whatever is asked of us in Tokyo.”