For the second week in a row, the Irish had all the luck, specifically Shane Sweetnam during the $50,000 Kentucky Summer Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington, at the Kentucky Summer Classic. This time he was aboard Solerina for the win, shaving valuable seconds off his jump-off time to beat fellow countryman Richie Moloney and Carrabis Z, who placed second. Sweetnam's winning mount from last Saturday's grand prix, Fineman, also cleared the short course, capturing the third place honors.
Forty of the country's top horse and rider combinations gathered at the Rolex Stadium under perfect skies to show over the first round track designed by Marina Azevedo of Brazil, which included an open water, a skinny jump to a triple bar, a vertical-vertical double combination and an oxer-vertical-oxer triple combination. Twelve entries completed the course without fault and 11 returned for the jump-off. The short track began over a single vertical to a new oxer and a sharp roll back over a new vertical before they had to gallop across the ring and angle another vertical. Then the competitors jumped the first two fences in the triple combination before galloping home over the last oxer.
The first double clear was posted by Venezuela's Juan Ortiz riding Accordance, but in attempt to leave all of the airy verticals in place they had a conservative pace and stopped the clock at 38.077 seconds for fourth place. Richie Moloney attempted to catch Ortiz's time with his first mount, Call Me Number One, owned by Equinimity LLC of Stonybrook, NY, and although the duo was faultless, they were a fraction to slow, finishing in 38.373 seconds for fifth place.
The winners of last week's $50,000 Rood & Riddle Grand Prix, Shane Sweetnam and Sweet Oak Farm's Fineman, were ready to lay on the gas when they took their turn over the track. As they wound their way through the course, they left each rail in place, breaking the beam at 36.211 seconds, which would hold up for third place.
"Fineman is very careful and very competitive, as he showed last week, but I didn't go all out because I knew that the winning round wasn't that fast at the time, and I wanted to be sure that I was clear," said Sweetnam. "I think if he had been last he could have also been as quick as Solerina."
Fellow countryman Richie Moloney was willing to fight for one of the top spots with his second mount, Equinimity LLC's Carrabis Z. They were right on Sweetnam's heels as they carefully cleared the track, dashing through the timers in 36.149 seconds, which would claim second place.
"Before the jump-off started, I planned not to go too quick and just have a nice round, but you didn't have to gallop too much to win so it suited him," said Moloney. "I could have done one less stride down the first line and been a little quicker to the middle vertical. I am very happy with second place though and happy the horse jumped well. I think there are big things to come for him."
Sweetnam and Solerina, owned by Sweet Oak Farm and Spy Coast Farm, were the last to show during the first round, the last to qualify for the jump-off and the last to have a chance at the win. They left nothing to chance, picking up a quick gallop and never slowing down as they sliced over each vertical and made quick turn-backs. The veteran mare never wasted a second in the air as she left each rail in its cups and blazed across the finish line in 34.056 seconds, two seconds ahead of Moloney to lead the victory gallop.
"Solerina is a very quick horse, so when Richie was clear and quicker I went for it," explained Sweetnam. "I was very fast at the turn backs to the two verticals. I had a really good angle to the second vertical, and you can really trust her with a bit of a gallop to a vertical. She's naturally very quick."
Moloney and Sweetnam have represented Ireland together on many occasions, and Sweetnam was pleased to see his friend do so well tonight. "Richie is a good friend of mine. I was hoping he would do well, but obviously I wanted to better," he laughed.
Solerina is a 14-year-old Irish Sporthorse mare by Cruising, the father of the legendary Flexible. Sweetnam purchased her from Irish rider Conor O'Regan last year, and during the Winter Equestrian Festival they won the $101,000 Pennfield Feeds CSI 4* Grand Prix. "It took a bit of time for me to get her going and get used to her," admitted Sweetnam. "She is very good at moving up and down in the height, and she is very fast. She is very versatile. She likes to pick up a rhythm and stay with it. If you get too much in her face she gets really annoyed and shows a bit of character. She jumps her best when you let her go in a rhythm."
Sweetnam is the professional rider for Spy Coast Farm, located next door to the Kentucky Horse Park, and the Kentucky Horse Shows are always on their schedule. "We love the shows here," he commented. "We've had a great two weeks here. The clients have done well, and the young horses get great experience. Hugh and the management do a great job."
For more information on the Kentucky Summer Series please go to www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
RESULTS: $50,000 Kentucky Summer Grand Prix
1 1313 SOLERINA SHANE SWEETNAM 0 0 0 79.679 0 0 0 34.056
2 1333 CARRABIS Z RICHIE MOLONEY 0 0 0 81.994 0 0 0 36.149
3 1020 FINEMAN SHANE SWEETNAM 0 0 0 82.899 0 0 0 36.211
4 399 ACCORDANCE JUAN ORTIZ 0 0 0 84.257 0 0 0 38.077
5 1334 CALL ME NUMBER ONE RICHIE MOLONEY 0 0 0 82.208 0 0 0 38.373
6 57 ZARA LEANDRA PABLO BARRIOS 0 0 0 84.058 4 0 4 34.641
7 216 RIVER OF DREAMS CHRISTIAN HEINEKING 0 0 0 82.022 4 0 4 34.753
8 220 NKH SELENA CHRISTIAN HEINEKING 0 0 0 83.646 4 0 4 36.085
9 79 CYRANEIKY DEREK BRAUN 0 0 0 83.167 4 0 4 37.337
10 663 PALM SUNDAY AARON VALE 0 0 0 79.321 8 0 8 33.879
11 1285 ROMEO VICTOR SEGOVIA 0 0 0 84.211 8 0 8 47.409
12 501 DRYDEN DEBBIE STEPHENS 0 0 0 84.632 2 0 Withdr 0.000
Source: Press release from Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
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