Paul O’Shea and Instant Karma Capture $30,000 Manchester & the Mountains Grand Prix

East Dorset, Vermont – Ireland’s Paul O’Shea and Instant Karma were the winners in the $30,000 Manchester & the Mountains Grand Prix, sponsored by Purina Horse Feed, on Saturday, August 4, at the 2012 Vermont Summer Festival. In a three-horse jump-off, O’Shea and Instant Karma beat out Luis Larrazabal and G&C Sacramento and Bryn Sadler and Bon Giorno for the win. Now in its fifth week of competition, the six-week Vermont Summer Festival will continue through August 12 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.

The victory in the $30,000 Manchester & the Mountains Grand Prix was a big one for O’Shea and Instant Karma as the nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Courage II x Cruising) showed successfully over her first 1.50m track. O’Shea and fellow Irishman Michael Hayden own Instant Karma in partnership and were both thrilled with her effort.

Michel Vaillancourt, of Aiken, SC, set the track for Saturday’s class with a total of twenty-eight entries competing in the first round. Just three of those entries cleared the course to advance to the jump-off, and all three had four faults over the short course.

O’Shea and Instant Karma were first to jump-off and made it through the entire course before rolling a front rail on the final oxer. Venezuela’s Luis Larrazabal and G&C Sacramento, owned by Anabel Simon, also made it to the final jump and then brought down the back rail of the oxer. Bryn Sadler, of Santa Fe, NM,then had four faults after dropping the top rail of the second fence on course with Showcase 81 LLC’s Bon Giorno.

In the end, time played the deciding factor, and O’Shea’s time of 39.24 seconds landed on top. Larrazabal and G&C Sacramento finished second in 43.48 seconds.  Sadler and Bon Giorno stopped the clock in 44.78 seconds to place third.

Following the victory gallop, Paul O’Shea spoke about the class and his winning mount.

“I was really happy with her,” he smiled.  “It was her first 1.50m class in her life, so I was really happy with the way she handled it. I have had her since she was a foal and Michael bought half of her when she was seven, so we own her together. We have just brought her along slowly and carefully and this was her first big test. I had her in Wellington this winter, but she only did the 1.35m, 1.40m, or 1.45m. We have never rushed her.”

“She was a late starter,” O’Shea detailed. “She did not start until she was 5 ½ years old, so she is a little bit behind where a normal nine-year-old would be, but she is very careful and rideable. She has got it all I think.”  Co-owner, Michael Hayden agreed.

“We are hoping for big things from her this year,” Hayden stated. “She has muscled up now something terrible. She is slim and trim and ready to go. We don’t know what she’s actually really capable of; that’s the question mark. The only question mark with her is how far she can actually go. We do believe that she is going to be a super horse and there is no point in rushing the good ones.”

“She is the opposite of her name,” Hayden laughed. “She is not an instant horse.”

Both Hayden and O’Shea believe that the rail in the jump-off was quite unlucky. Instant Karma barely touched the rail, and it rolled very slowly out of the cups, not hitting the ground until the pair had already landed and galloped away. O’Shea admitted, “I didn’t realize that she had even hit it. It hit the ground two strides after we landed. We were just unlucky.”

“I thought she was exceedingly unlucky to have that last fence down,” Hayden said further.  “She gave the display of her lifetime out there today, I have to say. I was videoing it and as far as I was concerned, she was clear. I turned off the video before the pole actually hit the ground.”

“The course was probably tougher than I expected it was going to be,” O’Shea said. “It was 1.50m; I thought it would be more like 1.45m, but I can’t complain about it now. It suited me.”

Both owners commented on Instant Karma’s personality, explaining that she takes a special finesse.  “She is very sensitive; she is very much a mare,” O’Shea described. “You can ask her to do something, you can’t tell her. You have to ask her politely, then she’ll do it. You have to be kind of soft with her, but she tries. She is a real trier.”

“She is a real personality,” Hayden pointed out. “It takes about three months for a groom to get on with her. I had her at home in Ireland when Paul moved over here initially and we sent her to another international Irish rider for a couple of months. His groom just literally wept when the mare was leaving because it took a long time to get along with her. For the first three months it was difficult and then for the next three months she was the only person on the earth. She has got real personality, but that is the quirkiness about the good ones; all the good ones have quirks.”

In addition to the top prize in Saturday’s class, O’Shea also placed sixth and eleventh with two four-fault rounds. He placed sixth with Wizz, a horse he owns in partnership with Daniel Walsh, and finished eleventh riding Skara Glen’s If, owned by Skara Glen Stables.  

Skara Glen’s If is another horse that showed in his first 1.50m class today, and O’Shea was proud of his efforts. “He is a very promising horse and this was his first big test as well,” O’Shea stated. “He had one down, but he still placed and I was really happy with him. He has just moved up to that level and he is going to be a good horse too.”

O’Shea rides for Skara Glen Stables and brought six horses up to Vermont for the final two weeks of the competition. This is his first time at the show, and he has had a great experience. “A few people have told us that it is a beautiful show up here, so here we are,” he smiled. “We love it. The people are great. Everybody around is really nice. It is a really nice show. The other night they brought us over to the adventure park for an exhibitor party, which was really fun. That must have cost the show a lot, so we were grateful for that.”

Offering more than $750,000 in prize money, the Vermont Summer Festival is the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont.  The first five Saturdays of the Vermont Summer Festival feature a $30,000 Grand Prix.  The $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix will be held during the sixth and final week on Saturday, August 11.  The weekly $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, are held each Thursday.

Competition begins at 8 a.m. daily, Wednesday through Sunday.  Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children.  All of the gate receipts benefit the a number of Manchester area non-profit organizations, including the Mark Skinner Library, Friends Foundation for MEMS, Community Food Cupboard, and Second Chance Animal Center.

For over 20 years, the Vermont Summer Festival has attracted exhibitors and their families to the Manchester region in southern Vermont.  The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL).  For more information about the Vermont Summer Festival, please e-mail: or visit

$30,000 Manchester & the Mountains Grand Prix, Sponsored by Purina Horse Feed - Vermont Summer Festival V
Rider    Horse   Faults    Time
1.  Paul O’Shea     Instant Karma   0:4   39.24
2.  Luis Larrazabal    G&C Sacramento   0:4   43.48
3.  Bryn Sadler    Bon Giorno   0:4   44.78
4.  Callie Schott    Wrigley  4   73.62
5.  Ian Silitch   Vanita  4   73.78
6.  Paul O’Shea    Wizz   4    74.51
7.  Lydia Ulrich   Santos Utopia  4   75.09
8.  Tracy Magness   Tarco Van Ter Moude   4   75.19
9.  Mark Bluman   G&C Blue   4   76.44
10. Darragh Kenny   Lipton De L’Othain   4   77.11
11. Paul O’Shea   Skara Glen’s If    4   77.75
12. Darragh Kenny   Valentino    8    77.07

Photo: Paul O’Shea and Instant Karma won the $30,000 Manchester & the Mountains Grand Prix on Saturday, August 4, at the 2012 Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.
Photo by David Mullinix Photography