World of Showjumping
World of ShowjumpingWorld of Showjumping

Paul O'Shea trots and pats his way to victory in $76,000CAD CSI2* Grand Prix

Sunday, 10 December 2023
CSI5/2* Desert International Horse Park 2023

Photo © High Desert Sport Photo. Paul O’Shea and Hellcat. Photo © High Desert Sport Photo.


Press release from Desert International Horse Park



Paul O’Shea (IRL) just recently retook the ride on Hellcat, a mare owned by Eye Candy LLC. Though the mare was tricky to get right in his time with the ride beforehand, he seems to have really mastered exactly what she needs, taking the win Saturday in the $76,000CAD MeadowGrove Farm CSI2* Grand Prix.

“Hellcat has a lot of character,” O’Shea said of the 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Cassander van het Bremhof x Conan, breeder Ludo van Dijck). “She’s an overachiever; she really wants to give 120 percent. Most of the time it’s just toning it down. I did ride her for a year and we had good success half the time. I started with her again 6 weeks ago and now I’m really trying to do as little as possible.”

Photo © High Desert Sport Photo. Paul O’Shea and Hellcat. Photo © High Desert Sport Photo.

Doing as little as possible when sitting on a 1200-pound animal navigating a course of jumps set at 1.45m is no easy task, but O’Shea has learned the two tricks that please Hellcat.

“Basically when I’m on her I just trot and pat her,” he explained. “Two things, that’s about it. I don’t really ask her to do anything, just try to keep her relaxed. She seems happy, because if I try to work her too much she kind of boils over. I try to pat her and trot her and just keep her happy. Since I’m back riding her she’s gotten a lot more consistent and has given me a lot.”

Consistency was important to get the clear round over the initial track, but taking the win was going to take a fairly drastic approach. Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) and Cornwall BH (Con Air x Cambridge, breeder Jessica Morgenroth) were first to go over the short course and put in a blazing fast jump-off, leaving the remaining nine pairs to catch them. None could until O’Shea, though. Her time of 37.37 seconds was improved to 35.83 seconds, and O’Shea remained at the top until the class came to a close. Nayel Nassar (EGY) and El Conde (Loro Piana Filou de Muze x Final Shot, breeder Philippe Le Jeune), owned by Evergate Stables LLC, took third.

Photo © High Desert Sport Photo. Paul O’Shea topped the podium, pictured with Susie Schroer of MeadowGrove Farm. Photo © High Desert Sport Photo.

“Amanda was first so I saw her and obviously she was extremely quick,” O’Shea remarked. “The only thing I saw was she did nine strides after the double. I thought there would be an eight there and that definitely helped me to see her go. You have to believe you can do it. Hellcat is an experienced mare and she’s naturally quick across the ground and jumps, so that was helpful.”

O’Shea has an impressive string at the moment, with horses for every purpose along the Major League Show Jumping tour.

“I have Squirt Gun for the teams, and he’s a super team horse,” he elaborated. “I’m very lucky to have him. He’s the ideal team horse because he’s very consistent and a naturally very fast horse. I couldn’t ask for a better partner for the team events. I have Imerald for the grand prixs. He jumped very nicely last night. He had one down but that was my mistake. He’s in great form; he’s 15 turning 16 but still he feels in great shape and hopefully he’ll be happy to keep jumping for a long time more.”

Show jumping concludes for Desert Holiday on Sunday with the $50,000 Whittier Trust Grand Prix.


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