Down to the wire, Ireland’s Paul O’Shea and Hellcat picked up the win in the $32,000 Dodd Technologies CSI3* 1.45m on Thursday during the second week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Show jumping competition returned to the derby field at Equestrian Village for WEF 2, presented by Keyflow Feeds USA, with 44 combinations lined up to contest Olaf Petersen Jr’s (GER) speed track.

Speed-class superstars McLain Ward (USA) and Catoki put the pressure on early in the game after taking the lead with a blazing time of 68.48 seconds from fifth draw. The pair looked to have the class in the bag until O’Shea entered aboard Team Eye Candy’s 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Cassander van het Bremhof x Conan) as the fifth from the bottom of the order. Utilizing the mare’s natural knack for speed and her love of the grass surface, O’Shea took over top call clocking in a time of 68.18 seconds. Canada’s Nicole Walker finished 5th aboard Atout des Trambles.

“I didn’t get to watch McLain [Ward] go,” explained O’Shea. “But his horse has a shorter stride than mine, so I stuck to the plan that was comfortable for my horse. The main thing with Hellcat is to slow down at the end because she builds a lot throughout the course. I take my time to the final few fences and it leaves us wherever it leaves us, but today it was plenty.”

O’Shea reacquired the ride on the mare in December from Jacqueline Steffens-Daly (CAN) and has already been back in the victory gallop several times since their reunion.

Results here.