Sweet Victory for Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam in Wellington
WELLINGTON, FL, April 2 -
Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam won the $8,000 1.45m Jumper competition held Wednesday during the 12th and final week of the CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Canadian course designer David Ballard set a track that saw six horses jump clear to advance to the jump-off. Only the second rider into the ring, current Olympic champion Rodrigo Pessoa jumped clear to advance to the jump-off with Rufus, his 2007 Pan Am Team Gold and Individual Silver Medal mount. Owned by Double H Farm, Rufus again jumped fault-free with his Brazilian pilot in a time of 41.40 seconds, which would eventually place the pair third in the final standings.
Sweetnam and Little Emir were the next combination to advance to the jump-off, turning in a time of 38.12 seconds to move into the lead. Their time would prove to be unbeatable as Canada’s Keean White of Cambridge, Ont., came close but was still more than two full seconds off the winning pace, turning in a time of 40.17 seconds riding Maharaja, an eight-year-old selle francais gelding owned by Angelstone Farms.
Another Canadian, Mac Cone of King City, Ont., was also double clear riding Ole, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, for owners Sara Houstoun and Larry Evoy. They crossed the timers in 43.27 seconds to place fourth in the overall standings.
“It was a nice 1.45m class, not too difficult, and it was a nice class for the horses. It didn’t over face them, but they also had to work a little bit,” said Sweetnam, 27, of the course set in the International Arena.
Little Emir, a 10-year-old German-bred gelding owned by Spy Coast Farm LLC, last competed in the International Arena on March 16 during the $200,000 CN WorldWide Grand Prix, having also jumped a clear round for Ireland two days earlier in the $75,000 FEI Nations’ Cup.
“I hadn’t jumped him since the $200,000 Grand Prix and I just wanted to bring him out and jump him in this class and then do the 1.50m on Friday,” said Sweetnam of his plan during the final week of competition with Little Emir.
Sweetnam, who hails from County Cork and has been based in the United States for four years, has been riding Little Emir for the past six months.
“He has a strong personality, he’s very brave, and always wants to do his job correctly,” said Sweetnam, who spends nine months of the year based in Wellington, Fla., and the other three in Kentucky.
Week 12 of the 2008 CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising, continues through Sunday, April 6, and features the Young Horse Finals as well as several Invitational Classics.
Results of Class 1002 - $8,000 1.45m Jumper Timed First Jump-Off
1 - 3111 LITTLE
EMIR SHANE SWEETNAM 0.00 74.773 0.00 38.124 SPY COAST FARM LLC
The 2008 CN Winter Equestrian Festival attracts the best horses and riders from around the world to Wellington and offers more than $5 million in prize money. For more information, visit www.equestriansport.com