Speed was the name of the game in Sunday’s $125,00 Old Salem Farm Grand Prix presented by The Kincade Group at the 2023 Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows, with many of the final placings coming down to just hundredths of a second. Ultimately, Ireland’s Paul O’Shea and Imerald Van’t Voorhof, Imerald Partners LLC’s 15-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, clinched the win in a blistering double-clear time of 40.090 seconds.
Like so many of his courses, designer Alan Wade’s winding 16-effort CSI3* Grand Prix track required total accuracy from the 35 contenders representing 12 countries. Fifteen answered all the questions correctly to return to the jump-off, including defending champion Jordan Coyle (IRL), who returned second in the order and set a speedy time to beat of 41.240 seconds aboard Falkirk Farm LLC’s 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding For Gold.
In the end, only O’Shea and American Mimi Gochman could shave a full second off that time. Fresh off her win in Saturday’s $38,700 FEI 1.45m Jump-off, Gochman piloted Cosmos BH, a 10-year-old Zangersheide stallion owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC, through the timers in a speedy 40.210 seconds to claim second place behind O’Shea’s 40.090-second time, dropping Coyle into third.
“My horse was fantastic today,” O’Shea said. “He really gave me everything, and I’m very delighted with the result. I actually didn’t see anybody else go. I just stuck to my plan; my horse is naturally quick against the clock. Classes like these are often so fast that when we walk the jump-offs, we wonder if certain things can be done, and in this case it definitely could.”
O’Shea executed smooth but tight turns over the Grand Prix’s shortened jump-off track, along with a blazing seven strides from the second-to-last oxer into the final jump. Whether riders finished that line in seven or eight strides made all the difference in their final placings.
“Imerald has been fantastic for me and for his owners at Imerald Partners LLC,” O’Shea said about his experienced mount. “He’s won a few other 3* grands prix, and I’m very confident in him. He’s a very brave horse; you just turn him, and he takes on the jumps. Unfortunately, he won’t ride (in the $200,000 Empire State Grand Prix) next week. He’s 15 now, so we’ll give him three weeks off until his next big class. He’s just a great horse, and he made today easy for me.”
Fourth went to quick-footed McKayla Langmeier (USA) and Rafferty Farm LLC’s Chadina (0/0/41.260), while six-time Brazilian Olympian Rodrigo Pessoa took fifth aboard Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC’s Major Tom (0/0/41.410).