Irish rider Paul O’Shea and Primo de Revel, owned by Michael Hayden, edged out Todd Minikus, McLain Ward, Laura Chapot, and 27 others to capture the $100,000 Grand Prix of Devon.
Ireland's Paul O'Shea and Primo de Revel jumped to victory in the $100,000 Grand Prix of Devon Thursday, May 29. In his first time competing at the Devon Horse Show, which celebrated its 118th year May 22 to June 1, O'Shea took the victory gallop in front of thousands of cheering spectators in the highlight event of the week.
Of thirty-one entries, nine clear rounds advanced to the jump-off. Four riders--USA's McLain Ward and Laura Chapot, and Ireland's Paul O'Shea and Kevin Babington-- qualified two horses each; five entries had clear second rounds.
O'Shea set the pace with the first double clear round aboard Gotham Enterprizes' River Dance Semilly in 43.63 seconds, eventually finishing fifth. Last year's winners, McLain Ward and Sagamore Farms' Rothchild, upped the ante in the next round, stopping the clock in a blazing 40.79 seconds to place third. Laura Chapot and Quointreau Un Prince, who she owns in partnership with Ward, put in the fourth place round in 41.95 seconds.
O'Shea went next with his second mount, Primo de Revel, and raced to the winning time of 38.95 seconds. The final clear jump-off round belonged to Todd Minikus and the Quality Group's Quality Girl, who jumped into second place in 39.63 seconds despite breaking a rein on the third to last jump.
Primo de Revel, owned by Michael Hayden, is a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding who O'Shea has had for seven years, accumulating 11 Grand Prix victories. This was one of the biggest, and it was a great moment in the rider's career.
“What can I say? I loved it,” O'Shea said of his first Devon experience. “The atmosphere is obviously very special here. I originally came to America through Harry Gill and Sherry Robertson, so I actually lived 20 minutes from here when I first came to America. I wasn't at the show, but I know the area, so it is nice to be back here again.”
The Grand Prix kicked off the 2014 Taylor Harris Insurance Services Triple Crown Challenge. O'Shea will have the opportunity to claim a $200,000 rider bonus if he and Primo de Revel can go on to win the Grand Prix at both the Hampton Classic and the National Horse Show.
Todd Minikus of Lake Worth, FL, and Quality Girl won the $50,000 Idle Dice Open Jumper Stake over second placed Lillie Keenan and Pumped Up Kicks. Minikus was named reserve champion in the Open Jumper division.
Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, NJ, guided Mary Chapot’s Zealous to the division championship. Chapot was honored as the Leading Open Jumper Rider and Leading Lady Rider. She was presented with The Little Big Man Challenge Trophy, an award which she previously retired and re-donated to the show. The Leading Lady Rider Award was donated this year by the family and friends of Carol Hoffman Thompson, with whom the rider was very close. “It is a great honor to be the first name on that trophy. We were great friends, and she and my parents were on the Team together,” Chapot said.
A $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, held on Thursday afternoon, was won by Kelley Farmer of Keswick, VA, riding Glefke & Kensel LLC's Mindful. The 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding was also presented with the High Performance Hunter division championship. Thirty-three entries showed over a natural course set by Allen Rheinheimer of Zionsville, IN. Hayley Barnhill, aboard Airport 48, finished second.
For the second year in a row, Farmer was Devon’s Leading Hunter Rider as well as the Leading Lady Rider in the High Performance division. She guided Glefke & Kensel LLC’s Scripted to the Devon Grand Hunter Championship after taking top honors in the Green Conformation Hunter division. She also guided Glefke & Kensel LLC’s So To Speak to the First Year Green Hunter championship and won the High Performance Working Hunter championship with Glefke and Kensel LLC’s Mindful.
Scott Stewart won the other two divisions, taking the Regular Conformation Hunter Championship with Krista and Alexa Weisman’s Showman and the Second Year Green Hunter Championship with David Gochman’s Mythical. He dominated Devon’s Leading Hunter Rider title from 2009-2012, but Farmer has edged him out the last two years.
Crowds lined the streets of Devon as the Carriage Pleasure Drive made its way through the neighborhoods surrounding the show grounds on Sunday. The double harness pairs tandems team for Werry Geo IV Phaeton was the winner of the championship drive-off with Michelle Werry at the reins. From Madison, WI, Werry also won the championship in her first visit to Devon in 2012.
Coaching Champion was Tucker Johnson and the Johnson Brewster Road Coach.
On Friday night, Smith Lilly, Princeton, WV, won both the Five Gaited Saddle Horse Stake with Central Perk for owners Mike and Amy Stinnett of Woodlea Farms, and the $5,000 Three-Gaited Saddle Horse Stake with Woodlea Farms LLC’s My Hail Mary.
Central Perk qualified for Friday night’s class by showing in the unique Five-Gaited Special that was held Wednesday night. The class brings a group of hunter and jumper riders together to show their skills aboard the gaited Saddlebreds. Central Perk finished fourth, ridden by McLain Ward. “We really just brought him up for the special celebrity class, and then we thought, ‘Well, he’s up here. Let’s go ahead and show him,’” Lilly said. “He’s only been in training with us since January, so I’m trying to know him a little bit more. He’s certainly a quality animal. I thought it would just be a great opportunity to get to know him in the ring a little bit, and then he goes and pulls it off and wins. I was really proud of him.”
Sixteen-year-old Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, FL, was Best Child Rider on a Horse for a record fourth year in a row after taking multiple championship titles, including the Grand Junior Hunter Championship with Dr. Betsee Parker’s Way Cool. Way Cool, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding, won all three classes over fences in the Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division. He was also overall Large Junior Hunter Champion and was then awarded the Angelo Perpetual Trophy as the horse who, in the opinion of the judges, best exemplifies the classic hunter horse in movement, jumping, style and presence.
Colvin was champion with Canadian Blue and reserve champion with Ovation in the Small Junior Hunter 16 & 17 as well as champion with Way Cool and reserve champion with Inclusive in the Large Junior Hunter 16 & 17.
On Saturday evening, Addison Gierkink of Harpswell, ME, guided Promised Land to victory in the $20,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior Jumper Classic. Four of 23 riders advanced to the jump-off. Gierkink and Promised Land had the fastest of three double clear rounds in 40.88 seconds. Michael Hughes and Christina Fried’s Luxina finished second in 43.15 seconds.
Concluding two great days of Junior Jumper competition, 14-year-old Giavanna Rinaldi of Wayne, IL, earned the overall Junior Jumper Championship. Lucy Deslauriers was the reserve champion. Rinaldi also earned the Leading Junior Jumper Rider Award.
The ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship class saw three sections with wins for Ailish Cunniffe of South Salem, NY, Caitlin Boyle of Hampshire, IL, and Megan MacPherson of Boulder, CO. Boyle was then named the winner of the 2014 R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Equitation Championship after two days of exceptional competition. In addition to her win in Section B of the ASPCA Maclay, the 17-year-old high school junior won Thursday's Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Section A. Boyle also finished second in the WIHS Equitation Classic Jumper Phase Section B as well as the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Section C.
In-hand breeding classes showcased the young horses Sunday morning, starting with the Pennsylvania bred horses. The horses competed in divisions by age and gender. The overall Best Pennsylvania Bred Horse was Nygel, a three-year-old colt owned by Cheryll Francella, who also earned The Best Thoroughbred Award. Nygel’s handler, William Howland, of Culpepper, VA, went on to earn the Leading Handler Award for 2014.
The Best Yearling was Arbor Hill, owned by Richard Taylor and Heidi Sampson, with handler Richard Taylor. The Best Young Horse was awarded to three-year-old gelding Rainier, owned by Kenneth Wheeler, Jr./Meridian Partners/Cismont Manor, and handled by Kenneth Wheeler. The award for the Leading Pennsylvania Bred Handler was presented to Emily Anne Belin. An Amateur Handlers class was won by Joanne Nuscher and Meghan McWilliams’ yearling colt Sirtified VM.
In the final class of the show, Young Hunters Under Saddle, Section A was won by Foxwick Farm’s Sinsational Fox, ridden by Kim Buzby. Section B winner was Aizlynn Radwanski’s Picture This, ridden by Phoebe Demott.