O’Shea Reigns Supreme to Win $210,000 CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix of the Palm Beach Masters
Ireland’s Paul O’Shea bested a 15-horse jump-off to win the $210,000 CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix of the Palm Beach Masters at the picturesque Deeridge Farms in Wellington, Florida. Despite losing his rein after the jump-off’s third fence, O’Shea rode the fastest of the three double clear rounds to earn the win on Tequestrian Farms’ Imerald Van ‘t Voorhof. The win marked the first five-star grand prix victory of O’Shea’s career.
“I lost my rein after fence three, and it took me awhile to get organized again, so I did not get the distance that I wanted,” said O’ Shea. “But Imerald tried even harder, and he stayed on track, so I have to give him credit there.”
The Alan Wade-designed course was a challenge for some of the 44 starters but still provided a crowd in the jump-off. Juan Manuel Gallego and Coulash van de Broy Z provided the first double clear in 39.36 seconds, leaving the door open for the determined dozen yet to jump. “I just played my game, because I went at the beginning of the jump-off. I just tried to jump a solid, clear round with my horse, as he’s not the fastest horse. Then the faster riders started to have rails down, and I thought, well, maybe!” said Gallego. “It’s an honor to be here with all of these riders. I had a really good day today, and my horse jumped amazingly well. Today is one of the happiest days of my life!”
Eight rides later, O’Shea smashed Gallego’s time, taking over the lead with a time of 36.03 seconds, but he had to wait for some Olympic veterans to take the course. “I just really rode it as hard as I could. The second-to-last fence had come down a lot, and I thought, ‘That’s the one to watch out for.’ I had it in my head to just really go, because it probably doesn’t help to think like that, so I thought, ‘I’m just going to go at it,’ and he jumped it great,” said O’Shea. “All I thought was, ‘Keep going; Margie (Engle) is behind me.’”
O’ Shea had to wait awhile. Rails continued to tumble until the final combination, U.S. Olympic veteran Margie Engle and Royce, entered the arena. They turned in a clean round and it was close, but the pair crossed the Longines timers a fraction of a second slower, finishing in 36.78 seconds, good for second place. For a moment, Engle thought she might have snagged victory away from the Irishman. “I wasn’t sure,” said Engle. “I know that Paul is always fast, and my horse is not the quickest in the air. He spends a lot of time in the air, so when I finished, I didn’t know if I had caught him or not.”