Rancho Murietta, California, USA — Sept. 27, 2020 — Heading into a 10-horse jump-off in the $25,000 Welcome at Sacramento International Welcome Week, Uma O’Neill (NZL) determined to put her training to the test aboard her longtime mount, Clockwise of Grennhill Z.
The veteran partners, winners of the 2018 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Vancouver and members of the New Zealand International squad, are still hitting their best stride and showed off a new gear with a swift victory in the first class of their planned two weeks at the Murieta Equestrian Center.
Mandy Porter (USA) finished second aboard Wild Turkey Farm’s WT Ca Pow! and Shawn Casady (USA) rode Poden Farm’s Captain Jack to third honors. The field of 28 featured an accomplished group, including former Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Sacramento winners Mandy Porter (USA) and Milano; World Cup Finals veterans Jamie Barge (USA) and Luebbo; and Mark Kinsella (IRL) and Stern de Folletti, fresh off a grand prix win at the Sonoma International, among others.
“CW felt great,” O’Neill said of her mount. “He was quite fresh in the warm-up. You could tell that he hadn’t shown in a while! But once we got jumping, he was very focused. I could feel that he was ready for a big effort.”
O’Neill, who operates O’Neill Show Jumping alongside her coach Mariano Maggi (SWE) out of Santa Cruz, CA, has used her extended time at home, both due to cancellations related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating wildfires that have plagued Northern California, to focus on training. She and her team are developing younger prospects and zeroing in on the details with her more seasoned mounts. With “CW,” O’Neill has focused on pace, and it paid off in spades over course designer Anderson Lima‘s (BRA) track.
“It was a really nice first course to get back showing,” O’Neill explained. “In the jump-off, there was a nice bending line that let me establish a good rhythm from the start. To the third fence, I did the inside turn, and it worked out great. I have been focusing on moving forward out of my turns, and I didn’t hold him through the turn to that fence. I kept moving. I think that made the difference.”
O’Neill has had CW since the now-13-year-old gelding (Clearway x Caretino) was just seven, and the duo has climbed the ranks from their first North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (now the North American Youth Championships) in 2015 to their senior Nations Cup debut last year. They concluded their first week in Sacramento with another top 10 finish in the $40,000 Murieta Inn, Spa & Restaurant Grand Prix, finishing sixth with just a single time fault.
“It feels really good to get back in the ring and start off with CW with a win,” O’Neill said. “He is very seasoned at this point, and with his experience and the strength of our partnership, he gave me endless confidence getting back in there!”
About O’Neill Jumping
A family-run operation based out of Santa Cruz, CA, O’Neill Show Jumping has achieved success on the global stage. Home to Swedish stalwart Mariano Maggi and New Zealand’s Uma O’Neill, winner of the 2018 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Vancouver, O’Neill Show Jumping has committed itself to developing equine athletes for the top levels of the sport—from the ground, up. With a select group of talented sales horses, from high quality prospects to proven performers, contact O’Neill Show Jumping for your next show ring star.
Source: Press release by Catie Staszak Media for O’Neill Jumping
Photos: © Julia B Photography