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Ireland's Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z claim $130,000 CP Grand Prix CSI4* at CP National Horse Show

Saturday, 05 November 2016
CSI4*-W Lexington 2016

Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z claimed victory in the $130,000 CP Grand Prix. Photo (c) Taylor Renner. Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z claimed victory in the $130,000 CP Grand Prix. Photo (c) Taylor Renner.

Spy Coast Farm's Shane Sweetnam (IRL) had the hometown advantage heading into Thursday night's $130,000 CP Grand Prix CSI4* at the CP National Horse Show. As first to return for the jump-off with Chaqui Z, a 10-year-old Zangersheide stallion, Sweetnam left no door open for the following 10 horses and riders who trailed him, after he set the pace to beat in a double clear performance at 38.13 seconds for the win.

When 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 Sweetnam. "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."

Course designer Michel Vaillancourt built a technical first-round track with a tight time-allowed, where only 11 combinations cleared all 13 obstacles with no time faults. Only five would go on to master Vaillancourt's short course with no penalties.

"I did a turn from fences two to three in the first round — I think I was the only one who did it because I thought I was going to have a time fault if I would have stayed around so I had to do something about it," said Sweetnam. "The slower horses did struggle unless they did something different like turning back on the last line. If they stayed wide they were always going to be in trouble. The combinations took a little bit of riding. The last line was causing problems. I have a good horse; I was most concerned with the time."

As Sweetnam kicked off the tiebreaker with a blazing fast and clear effort, it was fellow Irishman and winner of Wednesday's $35,000 Shelby Drazan Foundation International Open Jumpers Welcome Speed CSI4*, Richie Moloney (IRL), aboard Equinimity LLC's Carrabis Z who produced the next clear round to move into second place in 46.57 seconds.

Charlie Jacobs (USA) and Cassinja S, owned by CMJ Sporthorse, LLC, followed Moloney's path to also finish clear in 40.69 seconds — six full seconds ahead of Moloney's time, which would garner him second place honors in the final results, while Moloney would eventually take fifth place.

"Shane is being a bit modest when he said he didn't expect to win this class because I was in the stands when he went," said Jacobs. "I had aspirations to go really fast and have a crack at it, but when I saw him go I decided it would be better for me to go off the gas and focus on having a nice clean round, which we were fortunate enough to do.

"Myself and my horse came here with the goal of picking up some points on Saturday and this was the first step to qualify for Saturday's class," continued Jacobs. "It may not seem like a big feat, but we've been to horse shows where we don't do well on Thursday and you don't get to jump. So we'll put it in our back pocket and feel good going into Saturday."

America's show jumping sweetheart Margie Engle (USA) and Elm Rock Partners, LLC's Abunola also kept the faultless streak alive, crossing the finish line in 41.40 seconds to move ahead of Moloney and secure fourth place.

Last to go in the jump-off was Katherine Dinan (USA) and Dougie Douglas, owned by Grant Road Partners LLC. They were the final horse and rider to finish double clear and, paired with their impressive speed, rounded out the top three rankings of the class in 40.74 seconds — just 1/10th of a second behind Jacobs' time.

"I was super happy with my horse," said Dinan. "He jumped great. I went in to the jump-off hoping to be clear and competitive, but still have a good round. I was thinking a little bit about Saturday but I was really happy with him."

With the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals on the horizon, everyone is working to gain valuable ranking points to qualify for Omaha.

"I aspire to go to the Finals in Omaha," said Jacobs. "I was in Gothenburg this year and from what I've been told, it will be radically different with the venue and size of the ring. Knowing my horse, I think he will be well suited for it. I'd love to go given the opportunity and hopefully we earn enough points to go."

"If I qualify and feel ready to go, I'd love the opportunity to go to World Cup Finals," said Dinan. "To represent the U.S. at the World Cup would be a huge privilege, but I will take it one day at a time. I've only been riding [Dougie Douglas] since the beginning of this year. I'm very lucky to have him. I think we have really built up a partnership with him over the past 11 months. He is a privilege to ride and I'm thrilled to be his rider."

"It's a bit far away, but if I do well this week and at Toronto next week...you never know," said Sweetnam. "I'll see how it goes! We're also working towards the European Championships in Sweden next year. He's the right age at 11 years old. We didn't have a team at the Olympics this year, and last year he was a bit too green to do the European Championships in Aachen. Next year could be a good year for him, but we will see."

Prior to Thursday's grand prix, Jessica Springsteen and Stone Hill Farm's Davendy S topped the leaderboard in the $35,000 Suncast® Commerical™ International Open Jumper Speed. Their time of 57.68 seconds would hold out for the win in the faults converted speed class, even with a 4-fault score, besting Wednesday night's winners, Moloney and Equinimity LLC's Slieveanorra. Moloney's time of 57.79 seconds would be good enough for second, while the early leaders, Leslie Howard and Peter Howard's Donna Speciale, took third place with their time of 58.4 seconds.

"I'm so excited!" said Springsteen. "She jumped so well yesterday. She is trying so hard and she really deserved the win tonight. She can be done for the week. I thought it was a good course. These classes are nice because even if you have a rail down you may still be in contention. It worked in my favor. She was so quick everywhere that I was able to still win with a rail. There was a lot of tight inside turns and she handled it very well. I didn't want to watch [Richie's] round because he is super fast and very competitive on that horse. I definitely got lucky!"

 


Source: Press release from Phelps Media Group, Inc. // Picture © Taylor Renner

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