Paul O’Shea in Winning Form in $32,000 Dodd Technologies CSI3* 1.45m at WEF

Paul O’Shea & Hellcat Dodd Technologies CSI3 1.45m al WEF di Wellington Photo © Sportfot

Down to the wire, Ireland’s Paul O’Shea and Hellcat picked up the win in the $32,000 Dodd Technologies CSI3* 1.45m on Thursday during the second week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Show jumping competition returned to the derby field at Equestrian Village for WEF 2, presented by Keyflow Feeds USA, with 44 combinations lined up to contest Olaf Petersen Jr’s (GER) speed track. 

Speed-class superstars McLain Ward (USA) and Catoki put the pressure on early in the game after taking the lead with a blazing time of 68.48 seconds from fifth draw. The pair looked to have the class in the bag until O’Shea entered aboard Team Eye Candy’s 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Cassander van het Bremhof x Conan) as the fifth from the bottom of the order. Utilizing the mare’s natural knack for speed and her love of the grass surface, O’Shea took over top call clocking in a time of 68.18 seconds.

“I didn’t get to watch McLain [Ward] go,” explained O’Shea. “But his horse has a shorter stride than mine, so I stuck to the plan that was comfortable for my horse. The main thing with Hellcat is to slow down at the end because she builds a lot throughout the course. I take my time to the final few fences and it leaves us wherever it leaves us, but today it was plenty.”

O’Shea reacquired the ride on the mare in December from Jacqueline Steffens-Daly (CAN) and has already been back in the victory gallop several times since their reunion. 

“I’m very glad to have her back in my string,” he agreed. “She’s a very cool mare and she has been going great; we came back together in Thermal where she was first in the grand prix and third in the ranking class. 

“She can have a lot of energy at home, but she is always super when competing,” he continued. “We keep it super simple training at home and save her for the show ring.”

For O’Shea, this winter season is about building the confidence and experience of many of his young horses as he brings up his next string of top competitors. 

“I have a few young horses that I am building up this season so our plan is just to give them good experiences in the ring and not overjump them,” described O’Shea. “Once they are educated and ready we will make more particular goals for them, but for now I just want to teach them as much as possible.”  

Ward and Catoki, a 15-year-old Westphalian gelding (Catoki x Caretello B), co-owned by Ward, Bob Russell and Marilla Van Beuren, held onto the second-place ribbon, while Shane Sweetnam rounded out the lap of honor for Ireland in third aboard Seabrook, LLC’s 10-year-old Belgian Sport Horse mare by Vivaldi du Seigneur, Irandole du Flot.  

Finale results here

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Gabriel de Matos Machado & Legaland Sandro, winners of the Bainbridge CSI3* 1.40m riding. Photo © Sportfot

Earlier in the day on the derby field, Brazil’s Gabriel de Matos Machado topped the Bainbridge CSI3* 1.40m riding Legaland Sandro, owned by Kristen Kopp Real Estate, LLC & Bay Winds Equestrian.

In the International Arena, the $10,000 Dodd Technologies 1.45m served as a qualifier for the ‘Saturday Night Lights’ featured $50,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic National Grand Prix. The class welcomed nearly 100 entries and results were shared in a California split between Brazil’s Joao Carvalho aboard And Action, owned by Evergreen Stables, LLC, and Alison Robitaille (USA) riding her own Dagny. 

International competitions returns to the derby field with the Adequan® CSI3* WEF Challenge Cup Round 2, the qualifier for Sunday’s $140,000 Keyflow Feeds USA CSI3* Grand Prix.

Britt-Leon and Lauwers Share Champion Tricolors in The Rein Family 3’6” Performance Hunters

Week two at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) welcomed professional hunters to kick off the week in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Arena with the 3’6” Performance Hunter, sponsored by The Rein Family. The division saw a staggering seventy-eight trips on Thursday, allowing the class to be held in a California-split format, splitting the results into two sections for the week.

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Michael Britt-Leon & Private I, champion of The Rein Family 3’6” Performance Hunters Section A. Photo © Sportfot

“There aren’t enough good things to say about Private I,” said Britt-Leon. “I’ve had him since he was in the pre-greens and he’s never let me down. He wants to do his job well, he loves his people, and knows when it’s time to shine. He really has a heart of gold.” 

Private I has made quite the name for himself throughout his career. He has been named USEF ‘Horse of the Year’ three times, and is now entering a new phase of his competitive life. “This will be his first year stepping down into the 3’6” divisions,” mentioned Britt-Leon. “He has had such an impressive career so far and Kelly [Sims] and I want to preserve him and keep it that way.”

Private I will soon make a debut in the amateur-owner classes with Sims.

Following the winning pair in Section A, taking reserve, was Maria Rasmussen, of Royal Palm Beach, FL, and Worthy, owned by Sunset View Farm, LLC. The pair topped the handy round with an 89, their highest score of the week.

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Maria Rasmussen & Worthy, reserve champion of The Rein Family 3’6” Performance Hunters Section A. Photo © Sportfot

As for the rest of Private I’s circuit, Britt-Leon’s goal is to have the gelding shine in the WCHR Hunter Spectacular during WEF 6, where he has had top placings in the 4’ section in season’s past. “He’s previously performed incredibly in the 4’ section of this class, so I’m hoping for a qualification in the 3’6” section this year and to have the same luck,” concluded Britt-Leon. 

Section B of the 3’6” Performance Hunters was claimed by Jef Lauwers from Magnolia, TX, and Easton Blue, owned by Papandreou Hunter Jumper, LLC. The pair placed top three in two of their over-fences classes and ended up second in the under saddle, enough to secure the championship.

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Jef Lauwers & Easton Blue, champion of The Rein Family 3’6” Performance Hunters Section B. Photo © Sportfot

“We’ve had Easton Blue for several years. I’ve taken him up through the first year classes to where we are now and he’s been a great horse to have on the team,” said Lauwers of the thirteen-year-old gelding. “When you have a win at WEF like this one, it’s a nice assurance that you’re doing something right.” 

This championship was not only validation of training for Lauwers, but one of perseverance. “The end of WEF last year was bitter-sweet for me,” mentioned Lauwers. “I had to get back surgery following the season and have only been back in the ring since November. This was my first win back from that recovery; it being at a show such as this one makes it extra special. That being said, it doesn’t come without the support of the team behind me.

“Easton Blue knows when it’s time to perform,” continued Lauwers, “he has a bit of a stallion mentality, but the focus comes together when he’s in the ring.  His other rider, Lesyle Moore, has been away at school, allowing me to ride him, but he has also made a great amateur horse for her so far.”

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Jef Lauwers & Ceylon, reserve champion of The Rein Family 3’6” Performance Hunters Section B. Photo © Sportfot

Lauwers also claimed the section B reserve champion atop Ceylon, owned by Alta Basaldua. The pair placed top three in two of their over-fences, as well as third under saddle. 

Press release WEF Wellington | Photo 1 © Sportfot – Paul O’Shea & Hellcat, presented as winners of the $32,000 Dodd Technologies CSI3* 1.45m by Mark Dodd, CEO of Dodd Technologies, Inc.

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