Wellington, FL – April 14, 2022 – The $37,000 FreeJump Qualifier CSI3* was the feature jumper event on Thursday of ESP Spring II as FEI competitors prepare for the weekend’s $140,000 Bainbridge Companies Grand Prix CSI3*. Held on the expansive grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village, the class showcased a diverse field of 41 international horse-and-rider partnerships representing 17 nations. Hoisting the flag for Ireland, Paul O’Shea and Squirt Gun, owned by Eye Candy Jumpers, topped the class by a margin of nearly three full seconds.
“He is a really brave and honest horse. He never spooks at anything, so I can really trust him and open him up, which really helps,” commented O’Shea of his winning mount, an 11-year-old Oldenburg by Diarado x Quick Star. “Maybe on a greener or more nervous horse, you might have to slow down and give them a chance to catch their breath and see where they are, but with Squirt I can really just keep going and he handles it very well. I have ridden him for two years now.”
Eye Candy Jumpers owner Erica Hatfield continued, saying, “Squirt Gun is a little psycho and we cannot ride him in any prize giving ceremonies because of his personality. He is a challenge, but a very uniquely gifted horse. If we can get him on the right day where he can focus and pay attention, then he wins! We have owned him for about five years now, and he is an awesome horse.”
Competing over a course designed by Ken Krome (USA), 13 duos from the starting order finished the first track without faults to qualify for the jump-off. Of those, 10 elected to jump the short course, with O’Shea and Squirt Gun riding midway through the pack as the fifth to return. Up against a leading time of 43.37 seconds from Catherine Tyree (USA) and BEC Lorenzo, owned by Catherine Tyree LLC, the Irish pair navigated the pattern with ease to jump to a commanding lead in 40.57 seconds without dropping any rails. The rest of the pack chased down the frontrunners, but none could come within three seconds of their time to secure the win for O’Shea and Squirt Gun.
“There were a couple of blind turns in the jump-off, like to number three coming around the bank, so I had to really keep going and trust him so I wouldn’t slow down too early,” recalled O’Shea. “I came around quite strong and when he saw it, he really backed himself up very well and produced a lovely jump over that vertical. Sometimes when it is a bit blind, it is the rider’s temptation to slow down. It is just the trust to keep going through the turns. So, today everything came up really well for us.”
As the winner of the class, O’Shea was awarded a free Freejump airbag vest courtesy of the class sponsor.
With their time of 43.37 seconds, Tyree and BEC Lorenzo clinched second position in the class. In the irons aboard Wyndmont’s ABC Quantum Cruise, Hector Florentino Roca (DOM) finished just milliseconds slower in a time of 43.44 seconds for third place.
For the full results of the $37,000 FreeJump Qualifier CSI3*, please click here.
A large field of 55 entries competed on Thursday in the $10,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Open Stake, which included heavy hitters such as Beezie Madden (USA), Jessica Springsteen (USA), and Capt. Brian Cournane (IRL), among others. Of the initial group, 20 duos advanced to the immediate jump-off, which ultimately saw 12 double-clear finishers. At the top of the standings by the end of the class, Gwyneth Babington (USA) led the way with Kevin Babington’s Mark Q thanks to a foot-perfect jump-off time of 40.17 seconds. The pair was one of the last to go in the class and managed to edge ahead of previous frontrunners, Enrique Gonzalez (MEX) and his own Origi Van De Zeshoek, who finished in second place with a time of 40.76 seconds. Roberto Teran Tafur (COL) and Falcon De Hus Z, owned by Caitlyn Connors LLC, captured third position with a time of 40.92.
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