Ireland’s Paul O’Shea has been perched in the stirrups of Imerald van’t Voorhof for the entirety of the 16-year-old Belgian Warmblood’s now eight-year international career.

“I’ve been riding him since he just turned nine and he’s been a super horse for me. He’s done amazing things,” said O’Shea

“And he still feels as good as ever.”

Among those amazing things are five 5* wins, including the Nations Cup at Hickstead and Deeridge Farms Grand Prix in 2019, the ATCO Queen’s Cup and Friends of the Meadows Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows in 2022, and a ranking class in Dublin, Ireland. All those venues share one feature in common: they jump on enormous grass fields.

On Saturday at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, the veteran pair added the Mars Equestrian 4* Grand Prix to the bay gelding’s impressive resume. Again, they earned the green on the green.

Forty-three starters contested Maurico Garcia Ballesteros’s 1.55m track on Equestrian Village Derby Field. Only three found a clear path to advance to the short course.

Second to return, O’Shea and Imerald van’t Voorhof crossed the timers in a smooth and speedy 39.63 seconds with all the poles in place. It was ultimately good enough for the win. Mimi Gochman (USA) and Celina BH took second with a double clear in 40.79. David O’Brien (IRL) and El Balou OLD finished third with four faults in 40.25.

It’s the 21st podium finish since 2017 for O’Shea and his veteran partner (Jumpr App). Their best year to date was in 2022 when they won two 1.60m classes at Spruce Meadows and finished with €265,994 in career earnings. With Imerald entering the twilight years of his career, O’Shea is placing the gelding strategically and sparingly.

“The main goal this year would be to go back to Spruce Meadows for the Queen’s Cup. Because because he won that and he really likes it up there,” said the 47-year-old rider.

“Between now and then, we’re not going to jump that much. It’s kind of [based on] how he feels. We’ll pick a show here and there. But there is no set plan or set goal apart from the Queen’s Cup. The main thing is he doesn’t owe us anything and he’s been so good—it’s just to keep him well and happy and make a plan that’s the best for him.”