Shawn Casady & Valinski S. Photo ©ESI Photography.
During Week 2 of the HITS Summer Series at Saugerties, NY, 23-year-old Shawn Casady of the United States piloted Valinski S, the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Nijinski x Julius) to their first career win together in the $50,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix.
Valinski’s partnership with Casady is only two weeks in the making, and initially came about when Ronnie Beard and Michael Dorman of Wyndmont Inc. presented the young rider with a paramount opportunity.
“I worked as a rider for John and Beezie Madden, and at the end of The Winter Equestrian Festival, Ronnie [Beard] spoke with John about having me ride a couple of horses for him over the summer, which then turned into me riding all of their horses,” said Casady. “I left Old Salem where I was riding for [the Madden’s] and then I came up here to Saugerties. Before that, I met Michael (Dorman) in Holland to look at horses and we imported a few.”
Valinski had a successful career under Australia’s Matt Williams, with their participation in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games a strong performance for the stallion and Williams alike. During the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, Valinski was paired up with Todd Minikus, and the two won their first grand prix together in the $50,000 Purina National Grand Prix on January 8.
While Casady and Valinski are still getting to know each other, they’ve already made a statement by producing clear rounds in every grand prix they’ve competed in thus far. They also recorded a strong finish in the May 26 $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix at Saugerties, going double clear for 3rd.
“It’s a very tight knit team, and between Micahel, Ronnie, and the grooms, everyone knows the horses so well. They’ve been really helpful getting me off to a good start,” said Casady. “They’re not the biggest grand prix classes, but they’re good to enter to get to know a horse. For now, it’s just getting to know him and really riding for the future.”
With respect to the future, Casady looks forward to working with his new and developing partnerships, with his philosophy being to, “try not to overthink too much and to try and ride the rounds for what they are.”
“Right now we have Lake Placid coming up; we’ll head up there in about four weeks. Those [classes] will be little bigger and more competitive. It’s still up in the air where we are going, but we are really just thrilled to have a nice group of sales horses, and we’re developing and putting a lot of energy into them and the younger horses. My personal goals are just to keep moving forward and keep succeeding in the grand prix ring.”