Paul O’Shea leads Irish domination in Wellington Grand Prix

Irish riders were in superb form in Saturday’s $215,000 MARS Equestrian four-star Grand Prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida, USA, with Limerick’s Paul O’Shea taking victory aboard Imerald van’t Voorhof.

Paul O’Shea & Imerald van’t Voorhof, winners of the $215,000 MARS Equestrian CSI4* Grand Prix. Photo © Sportfot

Just three combinations made it into the jump-off, with O’Shea joined by fellow Irishman David O’Brien with El Balou OLD (Eldorado vd Zeshoek x Balou du Rouet) and 19-year-old Mimi Gochman (USA) with Celina BH. O’Brien lowered a single rail in the jump-off to finish third, while Gochman jumped double clear to take runner-up spot, crossing the line just over a second behind winner O’Shea.

“I was lucky to be able to see David [O’Brien] go, and in the first line he did eight but I could see there was a seven there,” said O’Shea. “When David had one down, it made sense to go quite fast because even if I had one down but was quicker than him I could still be second, and also put pressure on Mimi [Gochman]. It worked out for us.”

“He’s been a super horse for me; he’s done amazing things over the five years we’ve been together,” said O’Shea. “We jumped double clear in the Nations Cup at Hickstead which was a big thing for me because I always watched Hickstead growing up. He also won the Queen’s Cup in Spruce Meadows and he won the five-star Grand Prix at the Palm Beach Masters so he’s done a lot of really good things and he feels as good as ever.”

The fastest four-fault round over the opening track came from Irish Olympian Shane Sweetnam aboard the10-year-old mare RR Combella (Cornet du Lys x Indoctro), to take fourth place and ensuring three Irish riders would finish in the top four.