The 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) hosted its opening day of competition on Wednesday, January 9, at the beautiful Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, with big wins for Ireland's Shane Sweetnam. Sweetnam kicked things off with a bang in back to back victories in the first two classes of the circuit in the International Arena.
Sweetnam won the $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m speed class aboard Sweet Oak Farm's Solerina and then went on to take top honors in the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m jump-off class aboard Spy Coast Farm, LLC's Eregast Van't Kiezelhof. Laura Chapot also had a win on day one riding Mary Chapot's Zealous in the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge.
Week one of FTI WEF runs January 9-13, sponsored by The Mar-a-Lago Club. The week will feature a full schedule of exciting hunter/jumper competition, including the $55,000 Nespresso Battle of the Sexes exhibition class as the start of the "Saturday Night Lights" series and fun events like the Jump for HomeSafe fundraiser. Highlights of week one include the $30,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 1 on Thursday, the $25,000 Suncast® 1.50M Championship Jumper Classic on Saturday afternoon, and the $30,000 Mar-a-Lago Club Grand Prix on Sunday. The 2013 FTI WEF runs through March 31 featuring 12 weeks of world-class competition.
Shane Sweetnam's mounts Solerina and Eregast have both proven themselves in the show ring this year. In fact, Sweetnam had a one-two finish with the two horses showing in the $10,000 Welcome Stake at the South Florida Hunter Jumper Association Charity Horse Show this November. Sweetnam is now off to a great start for the FTI WEF circuit with double wins on day one.
"It is a great way to start WEF," Sweetnam smiled this afternoon. "Last year I started off a little bit slow and then in the second half I had a lot of seconds, so it is nice to get a couple of wins early."
The $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m speed class was the first class of the day with 13 entries and 5 clear rounds in a race against the clock over Eric Hasbrouck's course. Sweetnam and Solerina, a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare by Cruising x Diamond Lad, were last to go and completed the fastest round in 63.452 seconds for the win.
Peter Wylde and The Wannahave Group's Wannahave finished second in 67.756 seconds. Luis Larrazabal and Anabel Simon's G&C Sacramento placed third in 69.905 seconds. Last to go in the class, Sweetnam knew what he had to do, and galloped through the course over four seconds faster than the leading pair.
Sweetnam stated, "Solerina is a very quick horse. I didn't have to go too silly, but she was still a couple of seconds quicker. She is naturally very quick and covers the ground. She is a very, very competitive horse."
Sweetnam owns Solerina in partnership with Spy Coast Farm and has only had her since the middle of this summer, but the pair has already had great success together.
"She doesn't spend too much time in the air," he noted. "She is very, very careful. She is a little bit of a character, as in chestnut mare character, but she has a fighting spirit. She always has since I've had her. She has had a lot of good results already."
Commenting on the course, Sweetnam added, "The course was nice, especially for the first day of circuit. I wouldn't say it was too big or too difficult. It was a nice opening class for WEF."
For Solerina, the FTI WEF circuit will consist of competing in the 1.45m and 1.50m classes. Sweetnam plans to do the $25,000 Suncast® 1.50M Championship Jumper Classic this week on Saturday and then hopes to pick up some of the Rolex/FEI World Ranking Classes throughout the circuit.
Sweetnam's second win of the day came with Eregast Van't Kiezelhof, a nine-year-old Belgian Warmlood gelding by Thunder Van De Zuuthoeve x Latano. In the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m jump-off class, 55 entries showed and 25 advanced to the short course. Of those 25, 12 were double clear and Sweetnam and Eregast completed the fastest jump-off round in 36.836 seconds for the win.
Sweetnam just edged out McLain Ward, who finished a very close second riding Ilan Ferder and Missy Clark's Zhum CW through the timers in 36.872 seconds. Christine McCrea and Candy Tribble's Avenir placed third in 37.980 seconds.
Talking about his second winning mount, Sweetnam described, "I have had Eregast for a year and he has just really started to blossom recently. He has an awful lot of talent. He just seems to be maturing now at the right time. He is just coming nine. The year that I have had him, he needed that time to get mileage."
"He had two good, nice rounds today," Sweetnam stated. "The first round went well. In the second round, I knew McLain was winning. I was second to last to go with Eregast, so I sort of had an idea of what I needed to do with him as well. He has a very big stride and he can really gallop, so it seemed to work out in our favor and I think we just beat McLain."
On his plans for the circuit with Eregast, Sweetnam detailed, "I want to develop him. He is going to do the 1.45m tomorrow and then hopefully in the next couple of weeks he will do the 1.50m. I have high hopes for him at some stage, but he just needs to get the experience."
Sweetnam looks forward to a fantastic circuit with his great group of horses this year. He stated, "There are so many good classes coming up. I have a very good team of horses thanks to Spy Coast Farm, so I am hoping to have a very successful year this year."
The $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m speed class was also held this afternoon with a win for Laura Chapot riding Mary Chapot's Zealous. The pair had the fastest of nine clear rounds out of 43 entries with a time of 58.302 seconds. Emanuel Andrade finished second and third. Andrade guided Hollow Creek Farm's Wilkina Lithya to second place honors with a time of 63.092 seconds. He rode Hollow Creek Farm's Costa to third place in 63.542 seconds.
Final Results: $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Table II Sec 1
1. SOLERINA SHANE SWEETNAM SWEET OAK FARM: 0/63.452
2. WANNAHAVE PETER WYLDETHE WANNAHAVE GROUP: 0/67.756
3. G & C SACRAMENTO LUIS LARRAZABAL ANABEL SIMON: 0/69.905
4. NOUVELLE LAURA KRAUTEVITA GROUP: 0/73.443
5. TEIRRA ALISE OKEN HI HOPES FARM LLC: 0/75.706
6. VENUS MARILYN LITTLE RAYLYN FARMS, INC: 4/65.031
7. LITTLE EMIR SHANE SWEETNAM SPY COAST FARM, LLC: 4/65.210
8. HOT WHEELS DARRAGH KERINS SARAH KERINS: 4/65.985
9. ZANDER MCLAIN WARD MCLAIN WARD: 4/68.624
10. ZILOX T MARILYN LITTLE RAYLYN FARMS, INC: 4/69.916
Final Results: $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Table II Sec 2(b)
1. EREGAST VAN'T KIEZELHOF SHANE SWEETNAM SPY COAST FARM, LLC: 0/0/36.836
2. ZHUM CW MCLAIN WARD ILAN FARDER & MISSY CLARK: 0/0/36.872
3. AVENIR CHRISTINE MCCREA CANDY TRIBBLE: 0/0/37.980
4. WOTSAMILLION LAURA KRAUTSTONE HILL FARM: 0/0/38.201
5. WHITNEY RAMIRO QUINTANA ST. BRIDES FARM: 0/0/38.639
6. LILLI GEORGINA BLOOMBERG GOTHAM ENTERPRIZES, LLC: 0/0/40.672
7. VICTOR TIFFANY FOSTER ARTISAN FARMS, LLC: 0/0/42.457
PICCOBELLO DU VAL DE GEER JORDAN MACPHERSON JEM STABLES, INC: 0/0/42.600
9. IMOTHEP NICOLE SHAHINIAN-SIMPSON HYPERION STUD, LLC: 0/0/43.307
10. CARISMA EMILIE MARTINSEN EMILIE MARTINSEN: 0/0/46.365
Source: Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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