This afternoon’s $5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m sponsored by CWD saw fantastic equestrian sport with Ireland’s David O’Brien of Spy Coast Farm taking first, second and third place. O’Brien was on fire this afternoon, taking skillful rollback turns and riding with precision to every fence. His quick thinking and natural instinct allowed him to pilot not one, but all three of his mounts to the top of the class.
This afternoon’s course was designed by Tucker Williams of Ocala, Florida, and featured two one-stride combinations along with many rollback turns. The first round began with entries jumping an oxer-to-vertical bending line on the diagonal heading toward the ingate, then jumping back up the opposite diagonal over a second oxer-to-vertical line. Entries then rounded the corner at the top of the ring to jump an oxer centered on the short side of the ring. From there, entries continued down the rail to jump a one stride combination, then rolled back to the CWD vertical on the diagonal near the top of the ring. Entries rounded the top of the ring and continued down the rail, jumping an oxer, then a one stride combination. To finish, entries rode past the ingate and up the diagonal to an oxer, then rolled back to an oxer on the rail and jumped a single vertical near the ingate to finish.
First in the order of go with a total of three mounts in the class was David O’Brien of Spy Coast Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. His first ride was aboard Spy Coast Farm’s Kir Royal SCF (Amaretto D Arco x Werly Chin de Muze), who took first place in the $5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m just last week. O’Brien and Kir Royal SCF have earned many victories together, including the FEI $35,000 Power & Speed Stake 1.45 m at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in October. The pair were steady in the first round, taking tighter turns to keep within the time allowed of 86 seconds rather than using speed. They negotiated the first course with ease, jumping clear in a time of 78.123 seconds.
The pair continued straight to the jump off of the Table II event, which began over the oxer on the rail at the far end of the ring, then rolled back to a vertical on the diagonal. From there, entries jumped the one stride combination on the rail heading home, then continued down the rail to an oxer. To finish, entries rode past the ingate and over a vertical headed up the diagonal, then rolled back to jump the vertical by the ingate. O’Brien and Kir Royal SCF picked up the pace as they began the short course, still keeping their turns tight. The pair executed an especially impressive turn to roll back to the last jump, leaving the crowd in awe and knocking seconds off of their time. O’Brien and Kir Royal SCF crossed the timers at 33.457 seconds, a blistering pace that set the tone for the remainder of the class.
The next double clear ride also belonged to David O’Brien, this time aboard Sweet Oak Farm’s Starridor (Stakkatol x Ethylari). Starridor was a bit quicker across the ground in the first round than O’Brien’s last mount, but equally careful. The pair jumped a clear first round, crossing the timers slightly sooner at 77.147 seconds. O’Brien used the same strategy, mirroring his previous jump off round by taking tight turns and executing the same impressive rollback near the end of the course. The pair were slightly slower than O’Brien’s first mount, but still clear in a time of 35.512.
O’Brien’s final ride of the class was Cleveland Equestrian’s Pourkoipa Fontaine (Royal Bravour x Iberiade D’Hublais). The pair took second just last week in the $25,000 WEC Grand Prix and were more than ready to bring it in this afternoon’s Welcome Stake. Pourkoipa Fontaine was fairly quiet throughout the first round, but had plenty of scope to leave all of the rails up, much like O’Brien’s other two mounts. The pair crossed the timers at 77.350 seconds and continued into the jump off. O’Brien rode “Porky” to a second quick, precise round with plenty of tight turns to keep the time low, and they crossed the timers at 33.564 seconds.
David Beisel also rode multiple horses in this afternoon’s $5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m sponsored by CWD. Beisel and Phyllis Harlow’s Call Me Hannes (Cassini II x Sestriere), winners of the $25,000 WEC Grand Prix last Fall, had a notable ride this afternoon. The pair were clear in the first round in a time of 79.477, then raced through the jump off in an impressive time of 33.048 seconds, but pulled an unlucky rail, landing them in fourth place. This left O’Brien with a 1-2-3 finish with Kir Royal SCF taking the win in the Welcome Stake for the second week in a row, Pourkoipa Fontaine taking second and Starridor taking third.
We caught up with David O’Brien, head young horse trainer at Spy Coast Farm, after the class to chat about his three winning rides. “The course suited me as I like a lot of rollbacks,” O’Brien explained, “The course was straight forward and, in the short round, there were a lot of options. I did the class with all of my horses because it was a great class to train them and get them ready for the Grands Prix.” O’Brien was thrilled with all three of his mounts in this afternoon’s Welcome Stake, “The one that won today is the one that won the Welcome last week, and belongs to Lisa Lourie at Spy Coast Farm. The horse that came second belongs to Megan Bash. He was second in the Prix last week. I can’t say enough about him, he’s perfect. The one that took third belongs to Shane Sweetnam of Sweet Oak Farm. Last week was my first week with him. This week, I moved him up to the 1.35 m. He’s fun, I was very pleased with him. He really stepped up for me.”
Watch David O’Brien and Kir Royal SCF’s winning round courtesy of ShowNet
$5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m Results
- Kir Royal SCF, David O’Brien – 0 | 0 | 33.457
- Pourkoipa Fontaine, David O’Brien – 0 | 0 | 33.564
- Starridor, David O’Brien – 0 | 0 | 35.512
- Call Me Hannes, David Beisel – 0 | 4 | 33.048
- Lazuli II SCF, Jennifer Waxman – 0 | 17 | 56.352
- Five Star, David Beisel – 4 | 76.616
- First Finch, Logan Taylor – 4 | 77.418
- Mauna Lani, Lanie Thomas – 8 | 77.713
- Gotye, Neil Badcock – 8 | 82.166
Photos courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography.