Bridgehampton, N.Y.- Paul O'Shea of Ireland recovered from what seemed a devastating crash in Friday's grand prix to win the $40,000 Longines Cup on Skara Glen's Dolphin on Saturday.
His faultless jump-off round, in 41.52 seconds, handily eclipsed Hayley Barnhill on Zephire (O faults/42.51 seconds) and Molly Ashe-Cawley on Cocq A Doodle (0 faults/43.86 seconds). O'Shea was the final starter, riding Skara Glen's Dolphin, a 10-year-old stallion.
During Friday's $50,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier, O'Shea fell with Skara Glen's Sienna and was eliminated. But O'Shea, an international competitor who has lived in Wellington, Fla., for years, pushed the crash to the back of his mind as he prepared for the Longines Cup.
"I didn't want to dwell on it. It's the best thing to get it out of your mind," he said. "It actually took me a long, long time to learn to go forward after I made a mistake. But now I've learned that, if I make a mistake, I say to myself, 'I know something good is going to happen next.'"
And victory in the Longines Cup was made even sweeter when O'Shea spotted his aunt, uncle and cousin cheering with all their might at ringside after he'd galloped through the finish line. "They live in New York, and I didn't know they were coming," said O'Shea. "They were here last year too, but they said they didn't want to disturb me before the class. But I could hear them when I finished!"
Riding last gave O'Shea the advantage in the five-horse jump-off field. But Barnhill, of Collierville, Tenn., had the disadvantageous position of going first. She and Zephire, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood, galloped deceptively smoothly around the Grand Prix Field-but their time held up until it was O'Shea's turn.
Still, Barnhill didn't know how she could have beaten O'Shea if she could go again. "I'd probably have done one less stride to the oxer at fence 4-I was probably a little conservative there. But I could have also had a rail there if I'd done that," she said.
Ashe-Cawley, of Wellington, Fla., said she couldn't have beaten the top two. "Cocq A Doodle hasn't had many classes this big, with all the questions like this. I really like this horse, and I think she has a great, great future, so I didn't want to take any chances," said Ashe-Cawley. "Plus, she hit a fence hard in the schooling area, which I certainly didn't want to happen, so I wanted to make sure she was confident with a nice double-clear."
For his victory, O'Shea gets to wear a Longines timepiece, presented to him by Juan-Carlos Capelli, vice president and head of international marketing at Longines.
On Sunday, Capelli will also present a Longines timepiece to the winner of the $30,000 Longines Leading Rider Challenge. But, even though he's standing second with 165 points (having won the $10,000 Open Jumper on Tuesday with Primo Calypso), O'Shea will not win that timepiece too. That's because fellow Irishman Shane Sweetnam has amassed an unbeatable lead with 315 points, even though he only finished ninth in the Longines Cup on Eregast Van'T Kiezelhof, which still earned 21 points.
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