Shane Sweetnam takes prize in Lexington

Sweetnam the only one to break 40-second barrier, coming home clear in 38.13

Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam.

Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam.

 

Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam won Thursday night’s $130,000 jump-off class at the four-star show in Lexington, Kentucky riding his own and Spy Coast Farm’s 10-year-old Chacco-Blue stallion Chaqui Z.

From a line-up of 43 starters, 10 combinations took on the timed round. Half of these managed to get under the 40 second barrier but Sweetnam was the only one to do so while leaving all the fences intact, coming home clear in 38.13.

The USA’s Charlie Jacobs finished second in 40.69 with Cassinja S while third place went to his compatriot Katie Dinan whose clear in 40.74 came on board the Irish Sport Horse gelding Dougie Douglas which was purchased roughly 12 months ago for €1.4 million at the Goresbridge Supreme Sale of Showjumpers.

Asked if he was expecting to win the class, Sweetnam replied, “No, absolutely not. I was pretty tight everywhere. I wasn’t galloping fast or taking big risks. So when I came out of the ring, I thought maybe top four or something like that but everything seemed to work out. Today was my day.

“I show here at the Kentucky Horse Park all summer so it’s great to win here,” continued the Cork native. “Chaqui Z’s a great stallion. We haven’t competed much together, but we’ve always been consistent. It’s great to win a class like this.”

Kilkenny’s Richie Moloney, who finished sixth on Carrabis Z (46.57), had a mixed start to the show, winning Wednesday’s opening class ahead of Jessica Springsteen but being beaten into second by that US rider in Thursday’s first international competition.

In the Welcome Speed Stakes where 12 combinations jumped clear, Springsteen, who was second to jump, held the lead on 60.62 with Davendy S until Moloney, who was drawn 35th of 43 starters, came home clear in 59.98 on Slieveanorra.

“It feels great to win here,” said Moloney. “It’s the first day so you never know what may happen. It’s a nice way to start the week!” Sweetnam, riding Cornwall, slotted into fifth place with a clear round in 64.26.

In Thursday’s speed and handiness class, both Moloney and Springsteen had a fence down but, in 55.68 with Davendy S, the latter took the honours ahead of her Irish rival who had broken the beam in 55.79.

Moloney was again on board Equinimity LLC’s Slieveanorra, a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse by Voltaire. The chestnut gelding was bred in Co Monaghan by Ronnie Hollinger out of the Flagmount Diamond mare Creevagh Quaich.

Staying in North America, the North Carolina equestrian facility of Tryon has been selected as host venue of the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games. The Games are the major international championship event for the eight core equestrian disciplines of show jumping, dressage and para-equestrian dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, vaulting and reining.

The other major show jumping action this weekend is taking place in the Middle East where the finals of the Longines Global Champions Tour are being staged in Doha, Qatar.

On Thursday, Wexford’s Bertram Allen and leading British rider John Whitaker finished sixth in the final round of the inaugural Global Champions’ league. However, with 328.5 points, they, in company with teammates Emily Moffitt and Eduardo Menezes won the League with Antwerp Diamonds placing second (326) and Monaco Aces finishing third (315.5).

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