Shane Sweetnam rounds off an excellent week for the Irish

Cork native landed Sunday’s €216,000 Grand Prix at Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida

Shane Sweetnam rounded off an excellent week at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida when landing Sunday's €216,000 Grand Prix on Chaqui Z.

The Cork native opened his scoring when claiming Thursday’s round eight of the WEF Challenge Cup on Cobolt and then, with Chaqui Z, was on the Irish team which, for the second year running, won the Nations’ Cup in Wellington on Friday night.

Forty-three combinations lined out for Sunday’s feature class with 17 progressing to the second round. With so many forward, it was always going to be about speed and Sweetnam proved the fastest when, having left all the fences intact, he stopped the clock on 41.79 with Spy Coast Farm’s 11-year-old Zangersheide stallion by Chacco.

On an excellent afternoon for Ireland, Co Down's Conor Swail and Vanessa Mannix's 11-year-old Mexican Sport Horse stallion Rubens LS La Silla, who too were on Friday's winning team, finished second when posting one of only six other double clears in 41.82. Third place on the podium went to the USA's Ali Wolff who was home in 43.02 with Casall.


Commenting on his win, Sweetnam stated: “It was a fantastic first round, but then there were 17 in the jump-off and I was thinking that I had no hope. Chaqui is very good at turns, which he proved, but he is not always the fastest. I was quick and Chaqui did the turns super. Lucky enough, my time lasted.”

The rider is now a fan of the USA’s Ken Krome, course designer in the international arena for the week. “I think all week he did a great job. I was impressed with the WEF starting off because it was not just a speed class. There was a lot of jumping but you didn’t have to run your horse off its feet. Friday night, he only had three double clears, which was a great course.

“Today, okay there were probably more clears than you would want, but then it was a very good jump-off. That is the way the sport seems to be going. It makes it more exciting and it makes people want to come and watch. It just gets faster and faster. There were a lot of good horses, and it made for a very good class.”

Earlier, in Dortmund, Tipperary’s Denis Lynch partnered Thomas Straumann’s 10-year-old Valentino stallion Van Helsing into second place in the four-star Grand Prix of the Federal Republic of Germany when recording a jump-off time of 40.07. The winner was 18-year-old Dutch rider Sanne Thijssen on Con Quidam (36.58) with Germany’s Christian Kukuk finishing third on Colestus (four faults in 37.92).

In Vejer de la Frontera in south west Spain, Co Kildare-based Alexander Butler won Sunday’s Medium Tour Grand Prix, a 1.45m jump-off class, with Caroline Byrne’s 11-year-old Cruising stallion Hallowberry Cruz while, riding Chinook, Sligo’s Richie Howley finished fourth in the 1.55m Big Tour Grand Prix which was won Britain’s Robert Whitaker on Catwalk IV.

At home, Co Meath-based John Floody won the Connolly’s Red Mills/Showjumpers Club spring tour at Killossery Lodge Stud on Sunday with Francis Hughes’s home-bred nine-year-old Jacomar gelding Ballyknock Diamond.

This Thursday, March 9th, Horse Sport Ireland is staging an international marketing symposium in the Hodson Bay Hotel, Athlone commencing at 1.45pm. Speakers include international event riders, show jumpers, breeders and others from the worlds of digital market, equestrian sports technology, event management, etc.