Wellington, FL - Paul O'Shea of Wellington, FL, and longtime mount Primo de Revel earned top honors in the $25,000 Nutrena Spring I Grand Prix at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) with a time of 38.402 seconds, besting a class of 34 entries, while Kelsey Thatcher of Bluffdale, UT, and Everything finished in second place, crossing the timers in 38.971 seconds.
Diego Vivero of Wellington, FL, and Bijoux collected third place with a time of 39.097 seconds. Competition at PBIEC resumes Wednesday, April 13, with the start of ESP Spring II.
O'Shea, who competes for Ireland internationally, and Primo de Revel were the second pair to qualify for the jump-off following the first round of competition, tackling the course set by Richard Jeffery (GBR) with ease.
O'Shea has maintained the ride on the 2001 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Quinault x Orfa van de Elshoeve) for nearly nine years and has built a solid relationship with the talented gelding owned by Michael Hayden.
"He's just a great horse. We got him when he was six and he's nearly fifteen now. We have a good relationship. I know him and he knows me. He's one of the easiest horses in the world," he elaborated. "He knows his job and knows what to do. He was like that from the very beginning too. I didn't teach him that. He's just always been very easy."
Particularly impressed with the course design by Jeffery this week, O'Shea felt the track was a great test for the pair and Primo de Revel handled the first grand prix of the ESP Spring Series with confidence.
"I thought it was a lovely course today. I thought that in the other classes this week, Richard [Jeffery] built some great courses," said O'Shea. "On Saturday, in the 1.35m class, there was a triple combination and the course really rode like a grand prix, except at a smaller height and I thought it was very educational for the horses and great for the riders to keep us thinking."
"Sometimes in the smaller classes the courses can get very basic and I think it's important for the horses to learn a lot during their time in the ring and his courses yesterday worked out really well. I had a young horse in the class and while we didn't go clear, he learned a lot," continued O'Shea regarding the course design throughout the week.
O'Shea made quick work of the short course, besting the twelve combinations that moved forward to the second round of competition. O'Shea and Primo de Revel, were nearly beaten by Thatcher, who finished just five tenths of a second off the winning pace. O'Shea also piloted Primo Calypso to a sixth place finish in the class.
"There was a lot of fast riders after me and my idea was to just be as neat as I could in the lines. He's naturally quick, but I didn't try to do anything special. I think we all did the same numbers but it came down to who could be the most efficient," noted O'Shea.
"He's going to jump ESP Spring III here and then I'm going to take him to Devon in May. He won the class there two years ago and that's a big thing for us. I'd like to do Lake Placid and we've won there a few times too," commented O'Shea when discussing the pair's future plans this year.
Competition will resume at PBIEC on Wednesday, April 13, with the start of ESP Spring II, which will conclude on Sunday, April 17, and feature the $10,000 Open Stakes Class presented by Equiline and the $25,000 Noble Outfitters Grand Prix.
For more information on the ESP Spring Series and to see a full list of results please visit www.pbiec.com.
Final Results $25,000 Nutrena Spring I Grand Prix
1. PRIMO DE REVEL, PAUL O'SHEA, Michael Hayden: 0/0/38.402
2. EVERYTHING, KELSEY THATCHER, Pony Lane Farm: 0/0/38.971
3. BIJOUX, DIEGO VIVERO, Javier Estrada: 0/0/39.097
4. ECHO VAN'T SPIEVELD, VICTORIA COLVIN, Take The High Road LLC: 0/0/39.806
5. CHICHESTER 3, ALONSO VALDEZ PRADO, Alonso Valdez Prado: 0/0/39.876
6. PRIMO CALYPSO, PAUL O'SHEA, Michael Hayden & Paul O'Shea: 0/0/39.898
7. AMINKA, MICHAEL DESIDERIO, David Desiderio & Tranquility Farms: 0/0/41.869
8. AUCKLAND DE L'ENCLOS, SHARN WORDLEY, Ashland Stables: 0/0/44.87
9. ORIENTALES, SIMA MORGELLO, Double S Farms LLC: 0/4/40.137
10. ALLURE G, HECTOR FLORENTINO, Hector Florentino: 0/4/41.619
11. CASPER, AILISH CUNNIFFE, Whipstick Farm LTD: 0/4/44.724
12. CHANEL B 2, VICTORIA COLVIN, Take The High Road, LLC:0/8/40.578