David O’Brien swept all three divisions in the Developing Jumper Series Finals presented by Spy Coast Farm at Tryon International Equestrian Center and Resort (TIEC), piloting seven mounts for Spy Coast Farm LLC throughout the weekend. Created by Tryon Equestrian Partner and Spy Coast Farm owner Lisa Lourie, the Developing Jumper Series educates and showcases young equine talent in the United States, highlighting the heightened effort to produce top sport horses through American breeding programs like Spy Coast Farm. The Developing Jumper Series Finals has been hosted at TIEC since 2017, bringing up-and-coming stars into the spotlight during the Tryon Fall Series annually.
“I’m proud of my trainers, and they had the horses well prepared for this championship,” Lourie emphasized. “I was excited about the quality of all the horses and riders that participated and U.S. young horse development is definitely improving across the board.”
Spy Coast Farm, founded in 2003 and offering a holistic approach to the breeding, training and healthcare of broodmares and foals, is dedicated to making a significant investment in American-bred sport horses with quality that speaks for itself, Lourie said. “Initially, it seemed like a part of the industry that was sort of left on the table—that it was an untapped resource. I never like to see waste, and I knew that some of the best mares in the world were not being used to their best advantage, so I saw an opportunity to just jump into the breeding industry.”
Since 2017, through the Developing Jumper Series classes and beyond, Spy Coast Farm’s young horses have accrued international interest and symbolize an exciting new age for breeders in the United States. Lourie emphasized that she’s excited about continuing to shine the spotlight on the growing pool of talent available to riders in the United States, providing an alternative to importing from abroad. “I’m excited about improvements we are planning to make to the Developing Jumper Series here at Tryon going forward, and hope to continue to elevate the experience for these horses and riders, as well as for breeders and potential buyers.”
The first class of the day, David O’Brien (Lexington, KY) navigated Spy Coast Farm LLC’s 2015 Belgian Warmblood gelding Polaris SCF (Big Star x Rolette) to victory in the $5,000 Developing Jumper Series 5-Year-Old Jumper Championship as the only pair to complete the jump-off without any faults, stopping the timers in 49.524 seconds. Brittni Raflowitz (Palm City, FL) claimed second place with ESI Show Jumpers’ Foxtrot, the 2015 Oldenburg gelding (Monti Oblensky x Stutbuch I), on a four-fault short course time of 39.126 seconds. O’Brien also competed another Spy Coast Farm LLC mount, Piranha SCF, a 2015 Belgian Warmblood mare (Diktator van de Boslandhoeve x Beluga), in the jump-off and finished third with a time of 41.106 seconds and four faults.
“Both his [Polaris SCF] father and mother jumped the Olympics, which is kind of cool,” O’Brien shared of his five-year-old mount. “He is a pretty straightforward horse. It was nice this morning with the lights on, too, O’Brien shared. “The bigger the set, the more he is impressed, so it was nice to get him in there with that kind of atmosphere.”
O’Brien had the advantage with his second mount in the jump-off, as the previous horses both accrued faults. “In the jump-off, I was the last to go and the other two had a rail down, so I was able to take my time and as my boss would say, ‘equitate it.’”
The $10,000 Developing Jumper Series 6-Year-Old Jumper Championship saw 13 pairs challenge the first course with three returning for the jump off. Again, O’Brien claimed the top honors, this time with Spy Coast Farm LLC’s Octavius SCF, a 2014 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Diktator van de Boslandhoeve x Beluga), with a time of 40.953 seconds. Maggie McAlary (Anherst, NH) finished second with a time of 42.284 seconds aboard McAlary LLC’s Indian Quality Z (breeding unknown). Rounding out the top three was Richie Moloney (Wellington, FL), who navigated Daisycutter, the 2014 North American Warmblood (Diktator van de Boslandhoeve x Trulli) owned by Equinimity LLC, to a short course time of 48.741 seconds.
“He [Octavius] is ultra careful and scopey,” O’Brien shared of his mount. “He is not the biggest horse in the world, but his heart is massive – he has a very big heart.
“With him and the lines today I found that I just have to steady up and keep myself composed,” O’Brien shared of his strategy. “In the jump-off, it was the same thing; he is naturally quick so I didn’t have to think too much, so I just rode the course like I rode the first round.”
Topping off the championship, the $10,000 Developing Jumper Series 7-Year-Old Jumper Championship saw O’Brien and Spy Coast Farm LLC’s Nightshade SCF, a 2013 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Baldev x Olisina), put in the only fault-free round in a field of 20 and a time of 73.938 seconds. Stella Manship (Brewster, NY) and Elan Farm’s Lisaniska Cool Quality, the 2013 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Companiero x Trixi), were awarded second for their efforts finishing with four faults and a time of 72.03 seconds while Paul O’Shea (Wellington, FL) finished third aboard Eye Candy Jumpers’ Gangster of Love, a 2013 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Clinton x Echo Peach), with a time of 72.708 seconds and four faults.
Once again, O’Brien was the last to contest the course and knew that a clear round would secure him the win. “With my 7-year-old, I knew if I kept him straight and kept a good canter he would give me his best, so I wasn’t overly worried,” O’Brien shared. “I knew if I approached the jump with enough canter and kept him straight he would get to the other side clear.”
Earlier in the week O’Brien had a fifth place finish in the $37,000 EquiSafe Global Power & Speed Stake CSI 4* aboard Maldonado SCF, a horse that O’Brien developed through the Developing Jumper Series. “Maldonado actually came up through this program, last year he jumped the 7-year-olds here, so it is nice to get that next step with a lot of these horses so that they can get used to the rings, and then when they get to that next step they just have to adapt to the height.”
The Spy Coast Farm team will return to TIEC in two weeks for the Nutrena® Young Horse Show Finals presented by Spy Coast Farm. “A lot of our horses will get a break now for a bit with my 5-year-old and older horses, and then two other trainers at the farm will come back here in two weeks for the Young Horse Show and bring horses for the 3-year-old jump chute and liberty classes, and 4-year-olds for [under] saddle competition.”