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David O’Brien leans on El Balou Old for $38,700 Hippodata CSI2* Speed win

Saturday, 12 August 2023
CSI2* Traverse City Horse Show 2023

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography. David O’Brien stands for presentation. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.


Press release from Traverse City Horse Shows



As the day drew to a close Friday, David O’Brien (IRL) had one last trick up his sleeve. In a field of 34 entries, O’Brien sped to the win with El Balou Old, owned by Leap Year Farm, in the $38,700 Hippodata CSI2* Speed Classic, proving to everyone what the 11-year-old Oldenburg stallion (Eldorado VD Zeshoek x Balou du Rouet) is capable of. 

“He’s ultra sharp,” O’Brien said of El Balou Old. “It’s been something we’ve been working on, to ride at more of a pace. He’s always so careful and he’s jumped so high. We’re working on more pace now and getting him to be more confident running. Every time we have a class like that we choose our places we’re going to run him and then we can protect in other spots so we’re not always going full speed.”

Nick Granat’s course welcome full speed on Friday. O’Brien unseated the leader at the time, Patricio Pasquel (MEX) with the 17-year-old veteran Seringat, who had a time of 63.67 seconds and would ultimately finish third. O’Brien threw caution to the wind, taking the time to beat down to 58.42 seconds. Only Kyle King (USA) would come close, sliding in at 62.58 seconds for second place with SIG Chiari, owned by SIG International.

“We’ve had a really good year so far,” O’Brien continued about his run with El Balou Old, a horse he’s ridden since 2021. “He’s been quite consistent for me all the time. He’s the one that holds me together. He’s one of those that when you have a long day and you take him out to compete, you know he’s going to give you his all.”


Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography. David O’Brien (IRL) and El Balou OLD. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.

Riders in the $77,300 CSI2* Grand Prix Saturday can breathe a sigh of relief, because El Balou Old will not be making an appearance after his victory Friday. “This week we’re only doing that class with him because next week he gets to show in the Major League in Toronto,” O’Brien explained. “I wanted to give him a class where he could run around and be competitive and be ready to go for next week.”

O’Brien and his trusty partner will travel along the Major League Show Jumping tour for two weeks following the close of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival before campaigning across the East Coast on their way back down to Florida for the winter.

International show jumping concludes for the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival Saturday with the $77,300 CSI2* Grand Prix at 3:30 p.m.

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