All that dressage training appears to be paying off for Ireland’s Paul O’Shea.
The Wellington-based rider has been concentrating of his flatwork for the past year, recruiting famed dressage rider Jane Savoie to improve his skills at home.
For the past two months, he’s been quietly killing it in the show ring, posting rail-free rounds in 10 of his past 11 international appearances.
And it’s not a one horse phenomenon. O’Shea has been pulling in the clears on four different horses since March.
This Saturday in Lexington that trend paid dividends in the $225,000 Kentucky Invitational CSI3*, the first leg of the Split Rock Jumping Tour.
The Invitational class, held during the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, saw the top 10 horse and rider combinations return, in reverse order of score, for the second round. As the fastest clear, O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu had the benefit of going last.
With double clears from Mexico’s Eugenio Garza (Armani SI Z), Australia’s Rowan Willis (Blue Movie) and USA’s Ali Wolff (Casall), only a fast and fault-free round would do.
And they delivered. O’Shea piloted the Dutch Warmblood to a clear, stopping the clock at 41.91 seconds to shave half a second off Garza’s time of 42.42 seconds.
“I tried to go as fast as I could and leave all the jumps up,” said O’Shea. “I didn’t really [get to see the others] to be honest, so I tried to go as good as I could and Machu was incredible. He couldn’t have jumped any better, he was just fantastic.”
Garza finished second and Willis (AUS), third.