Shane Sweetnam (IRL) powered to another win at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) this week, piloting Cobolt to victory in the $130,000 Ariat® Grand Prix CSI3* under the lights in the George H. Morris Arena. Sweetnam and Cobolt saved the best for last, completing the jump-off course in 41.58 seconds to secure their top place finish. Daniel Bedoya (BOL) and Quattro earned second place, finishing in 42.424 seconds, while David Beisel (USA) and Call Me Hannes collected third place with a time of 45.351 seconds.
The $130,000 Ariat® Grand Prix CSI 3* featured 33 entries and saw only five combinations move forward to contest the jump-off round. Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) set both tracks, which proved to test speed and accuracy, as two pairs finished the evening with a single time fault and eight combinations dropped a rail for four faults. Cobolt and Sweetnam were the last pair to secure a clear jumping effort, making them the fifth pair to enter the jump-off round and also the final combination to test the short course.
"I definitely felt pressure. You have to understand the goal, but you can't be silly about it either. He's quite a quick horse and I knew that he was feeling good because he was bucking from fence one to two," explained Sweetnam. "We were a little lucky at fence two because of it, but he responded great and jumped the rest very well."
Sweetnam also took the $35,000 1.50m Suncast® Welcome on Thursday aboard Cyklon 1083, who is the sire of tonight's winner, Cobolt. Displaying his experience and expertise, Sweetnam piloted Cobolt, a 2008 Swedish Warmblood gelding (Cyklon 1083 x Selena) owned by The Blue Buckle Group, to their first major FEI win together.
"He's a new enough ride for me. He's ten and his father is actually Cyklon who won the other day, so it's a father and son kind of thing this week," chuckled Sweetnam. "We haven't done so many big classes together yet, so for the jump-off I wasn't sure how it would pan out but he handled it very well."
"I thought he jumped great in both the first and second round. It was a great win for him," he added.
The Blue Buckle Group acquired Cobolt in January and Sweetnam has taken his time getting to know the talented gelding, who joined Sweetnam's string with a proven FEI record in Europe. The duo competed together for the first time this past February and only contested a handful of 1.50m classes during the winter circuit.
"I did a couple of 1.50m classes with him, but this is obviously our first big result," commented Sweetnam. "He jumped the 1.50m class the other day and I made a few little mistakes but he jumped great. My plan was always to get a good result tonight and I have to say, I was very pleased with the way he jumped. Now I need to figure out what our next big class will be."
While Sweetnam has three mounts entered in the Tryon Spring 8 FEI CSI 5* next week, Cobolt will not contest the week's main event, the $380,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix, but Sweetnam is looking forward to producing more top results with the gelding throughout the rest of the season.
"I was very impressed with him tonight and I know that he is a quick horse. He has a lot of real talent and I'm hoping that this win is the first of many to come for us," concluded Sweetnam.
Sweetnam's groom, Lilly Johnson, was presented with the Groom's Initiative Award on behalf of Mark Bellissimo and Tryon Equestrian Partners, honoring her for the meticulous care and dedication to Sweetnam's winning mount, Cobolt.
Kristen Vanderveen (USA) received the Leading Lady Award, presented by realtor Meg Atkinson, in recognition of Vanderveen's performances in FEI classes during Tryon Spring 7.
Source: Press release from Tryon International Equestrian Center News // Picture © FlyingHorsePhotography
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