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Simon McCarthy speeds to victory on opening day of ESP Spring III

Friday, 19 April 2024
CSI3* ESP Spring Series Wellington International 2024

Photo © Sportfot Simon McCarthy and Gotcha, winners of the $32,000 Florida Coast Equipment CSI3* 1.45m. Photo © Sportfot.


Press release from Wellington International



Ireland’s Simon McCarthy opened the second week of the 2024 ESP Spring Series, presented by Florida Coast Equipment, on Thursday with a win in the $32,000 Florida Coast Equipment CSI3* 1.45m on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village, home of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival during the winter season. The Spring Series at Wellington International runs for five weeks as part of the ESP Annual Series and concludes on May 12.

For a field of 63 horses, Andy Christiansen Jr. (USA) set the two-phase course. McCarthy, 28, and Gotcha, owned by Rock Ridge Farms, topped the clock of the speed phase in 30.42 seconds, only fractions over the runner-up, Kelli Cruciotti-Vanderveen (USA) riding Forever SFN for owner Serenity Farm Show Stables, in 31.02 seconds. Third went to Grace Debney (GBR) riding Boheme de la Roque two one-hundredths slower than Cruciotti-Vanderveen in 31.04 seconds for owner Temple Equestrian, LLC. 

“I knew I needed to get through the first phase and then go for it,” said McCarthy. “In the last couple of lines there was a leave out, which I didn't know if I was going to be able to do. When I was there, I kicked, closed my eyes and hoped I got there. And she was right with me, so I think that's what was the winning factor at the end.”

Photo © Sportfot Simon McCarthy and Gotcha are presented as winners of the $32,000 Florida Coast Equipment CSI3* 1.45m. Photo © Sportfot.

Gotcha, a 13-year-old Holsteiner mare (Stakkato x Cassini I), recently became McCarthy’s number-one FEI tap after his other mount, Athletix Hero Z, was sold to compete in the under 25 grand prix ranks. During the 2024 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) season in Wellington, Gotcha proved she was ready to rise to the occasion with seven top-five finishes in international competition. 

“She's in great form; probably the best form she's ever been in,” said McCarthy. “She's given me more wins than any horse has ever given me, and we know each other unbelievably well. I was away for the last four days and today was the first time I'd ridden her since the middle of last week. That's a testament to my team that they're able to keep the horses happy and healthy and fit.”

McCarthy and his students at Rock Ridge Farm will move on from Wellington soon to split their time between Connecticut and New York this summer.


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