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Irish Draught Does First Hunter Class

11/3/01 Albuquerque New Mexico, America's most popular Irish Draught Stallion took another step in proving why he is being considered the most versatile Irish Draught Stallion in the world. At the encouragement of one of America's most successful show jumping riders, Rob Gage, O'Leary's Irish Diamond was entered in the year end hunter jumper show in Albuquerque NM. Though, he has great dressage gaits, not preferred for hunter competition, the Irish stallion impressed the hunter judges with his jumping technique and his famous disposition. Irish was a late entry after Gage talked the owner of the stallion to take him to the show for some training over the jump courses.

Gage said the exposure to the flowers and other colorful obstacles would be good for the stallion, strictly a dressage competitor for the last three years. Gage was so impressed during a training session that he lobbied to have Irish entered in a pre green class. The stallion got a third place ribbon, but more importantly his jumping style and ease with lead changes impressed judges and unlookers. Once again the most heard question was "what breed is he?"
Though Irish at six years of age, had won four dressage championships including the Dressage Association of Southern California 3rd level Championship, international acclaimed Grand Prix Jump Rider Rob Gage wants him for jumping
"He may do a nice job in dressage, but he is a jumper," said Gage. Gage says he jumps so correctly and with such power he can do the big jumps. Gage who has often been ranked in the top five and once number one as a rider in the US, insists he can win at the grand prix level in jumping. He acknowledges that the Irish Draught Stallion may be slow in the jump off phase of a grand prix event. More than 25 times a grand prix winner, Gage says Irish will have clear rounds and in many competitions there are few if any clear rounds. He said in preliminary competitions he may have trouble winning because so many times allot of fast horses that don't have a big jump have clear rounds. "He would have trouble beating those horses," said Gage. But those horses never make it to the Grand Prix competition level.
Because of his extensive dressage training, Gage predicts the seven year old would be at the Grand Prix level within two years. The problem for the owner in making the decision is the one of expense. "I have not figured out a way of affording such a monumental task," said his owner Jim Leary. "The reward would be great. If he accomplished the task, no one could dispute the claim he is the best Irish Draught Stallion in the World," added Leary.
Gage said he is totally impressed with Irish's pedigree. "When you consider his pedigree it is almost a must that he be jumped."

Above Gage, a former AGA rider of the year and winner of more than 25 grand prix, rode Irish for the first time. Though Irish is very green to jumping, Gage was impressed and wants him for show jumping.

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