Paul O’Shea and Oilily Van't Eigenlo Outpace the Field in $25,000 HITS Grand Prix at HITS-on-the-Hudson II
Saugerties, N.Y. – June 2, 2023 – Riders put the new Wordley Martin footing at HITS Saugerties to the test on Friday as they aimed to lead the 10-horse jump-off during the afternoon’s $25,000 HITS Grand Prix. A fast gallop and quick turns were the only way to end up on the top of the leaderboard, and that is what Ireland’s Paul O’Shea pulled off with Oilily Van't Eigenlo as they bested Spain’s Diego Perez Bilboa and Dialuna by just 1/10th of a second. Fellow Irish rider Christian Coyle was the pathfinder for the day, laying down a fast round for the others to follow aboard Ma Pomme De Tamerville, which would eventually rank third behind O’Shea and Bilboa.
O’Shea also attributed his success to the new footing, which allowed him to increase his speed in the jump-off. “It's absolutely fantastic – the ground feels as good as anywhere in the world, and it also helped that we could go at a good speed today,” he noted. “They felt so sure on the ground, and the ground is very springy. For me, it’s a good sign when the jumps feel small, then you know you’re on good ground, that's the way the jumps felt today!”
Paul O’Shea and Oilily Van't Eigenlo. Photo by: ESI Photography
Course designer Ken Okken welcomed riders with 12 obstacles in the Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Stadium during the first round that included a liverpool oxer, two double combinations, and a technical last line towards the gate that left several riders off the jump-off list. Ten advanced to the tiebreaker, where they began over two new verticals and continued to the oxer-vertical double combination. Following the liverpool, they had a long bending line to the final wide oxer.
Christian Coyle and Ma Pomme De Tamerville. Photo by: ESI Photography
Coyle was the first to return with Ma Pomme De Tamerville, and he put the pressure on the rest of the field as they cleared all the obstacles and galloped through the timers in a quick 41.460 seconds. O’Shea was next and used his horse’s naturally quick pace to his advantage, making a very smooth turn to the final line as he blazed across the finish in 40.709 seconds to go straight to the top of the leaderboard. The remaining riders tried to catch him, but the only pair that was able to come in shouting distance was Bilboa and Dialuna, who crossed the finish line in 40.801 seconds. Bilboa’s time would move into second while O’Shea stayed on top to take home the victory.
Diego Perez Bilboa and Dialuna. Photo by: ESI Photography
"[Oilily Van't Eigenlo] is a fast horse and she's very careful, so you can really ride up to the jumps and sets herself and takes care of the top rail,” said O’Shea. "She was really smooth everywhere and we went wide [in the last line] to help the turn afterwards.”
O’Shea has been riding the 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare for Trelawny Farm for a year and they have just moved up to the grand prix level. “She's really stepped up and she really feels like a fantastic horse for the future,” he expressed. “We worked a lot on rideability over the winter. Her jump has always been natural and incredible.”
Jumper action will continue this week at HITS-on-the-Hudson in the new Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Stadium. Sunday will feature the $100,000 HITS Grand Prix, in addition to classics in the Junior/Amateur Jumpers, as well as the High, Low and Modified Children’s and Adult Jumper Classics, which are qualifiers for the Marshall & Sterling Insurance League Finals.