LAKE PLACID - In their first trip to Lake Placid, Irish rider Paul O'Shea and his horse Primo De Revel rode to victory Sunday in the 44th annual Lake Placid Horse Show's $75,000 Equine Insurance Services/Great American Grand Prix.
The closest O'Shea came to competing in Lake Placid was last summer when his travels took him to Vermont. Upon hearing how enjoyable the horse shows are in Lake Placid, he put the event on his radar, and it paid off on Sunday. O'Shea and Primo De Revel was one of six entries who made it through the opening round fault free to reach the jump-off, where they nailed down the victory with a time of 38.189 seconds. O'Shea was one of two riders to go cleanly through the jump-off. Riding Royce, Olympian Margie Engle also put down a clean performance in the jump-off in 39.409 seconds to finish runner-up.
Third place went to Heather Caristo-Williams of Saugerties and her mount Evening Star.
Ireland’s Paul O’Shea guides Primo De Revel over a jump during their winning performance Sunday in the $75,000 grand prix event on the final day of the Lake Placid Horse Show.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Aurelia Pearl of Saranac Lake cheers along with the crowd after Olympic veteran Margie Engle and her horse Royce put down a clean round in the jump-off of Sunday’s grand prix.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"I watched Margie go (in the jump-off) and knew she would be the fastest," O'Shea said. "I knew I had to go as fast as I could without getting my horse out of balance, and was fortunate to come up with the win."
O'Shea and Primo De Revel have been quite successful competing this year. In five appearances since April, they have combined for two victories, and a second- and third-place finish. The last time they won was on a course designed by Steve Stephens, who set up the 2008 Olympic Course in Athens and also the jumps for Saturday's grand prix in Lake Placid.
"Maybe I should just keep following Steve around," the 36-year-old O'Shea mused. "I thought it was a very fair course for today."
The day started with 33 horse-and-rider combinations competing in the 14-jump opening round.
Caristo-Williams, who met her husband in Lake Placid, was the first to go in the jump-off. She knocked down one rail and finished third with a time of 41.795 seconds. She has competed in Lake Placid since she was young and said it was the first time she has shown in the grand prix ring here in 15 years.
"It's been hard to find a grand prix competition that works, and now we have," Caristo-Williams said. "It's good to be back in the grand prix ring again in Lake Placid. It's one of my favorite horse shows anywhere, if not my favorite.
"I love it here," she added. "The field, the people, the town, the mountains. The whole atmosphere is great."
Engle, who has chalked up numerous grand prix victories here in her illustrious career, was the second to go in the jump-off and rode clean with Royce. She was knocked out of competition in Lake Placid a year ago with an injury and said she just started working with Royce.
"I think this horse may have more raw talent than almost any other horse I've ever ridden," Engle said. "I knew he could be competitive. He can jump, he's just not ready to go flat out. He's never going to be that speed horse, but I have high hopes for him in the big stuff once he gets a little more milage under him."
Fourth place went to Kimberly Prince on Windbreaker, Candice King and Kismet 50 finished fifth and Kevin Babington and Mark Q placed sixth to round out the horse-and-rider combinations to reach the jump-off.
O'Shea's victory marked the fourth year in a row that an Irish rider has won the grand prix at the Lake Placid Horse Show. They'll shoot for another victory Saturday in the $100,000 grand prix during the I Love New York Horse Show.