The Rolex Stadium was full of excited spectators as they gathered on Hats Off Day to watch the country's top horse and riders compete during the $50,000 Rood & Riddle Grand Prix. The international riders gave them exactly what they were looking for: an exciting tiebreaker between five-horse and rider combination dashing to the finish. In the end it was Ireland's Shane Sweetnam and his new mount Fineman that led the victory gallop after besting Argentina's Max Amaya and Cartier by two seconds, while New Zealand's Sharn Wordley and Derly Chin De Muze claimed third place.
Richard Jeffery of Bournemouth, England set a technical track for tonight's competitors which included an open water, a vertical-vertical double combination, and the most challenging test: a triple bar-oxer-vertical triple combination. Only five riders managed to leave all the fences intact and advance to the speed round. For the jump-off, they had to show over a wide oxer and roll-back to a vertical before turning to a new oxer and jumping the last two parts of the triple combination. Then they continued over a single oxer, rolling back to another vertical with a bending line to an oxer and finishing over a single vertical just passed the gate.
Angel Karolyi of Venezuela was the first to return for the short course with Amigo, owned by Hollow Creek Farm of Aiken, SC. They tried to put the pressure on the riders following them, but Amigo lowered the height of the new oxer and finished in 48.159 seconds for fifth place. Aaron Vale and Spirit of Alena, owned by Campos and Miranda Investments of Ocala, FL, were next, and although they had a faster time of 45.180 seconds, they had the same rail down for four-faults and fourth place.
The luck of the Irish proved to be with Shane Sweetnam and his new mount Fineman, owned by Sweetnam and Sweet Oak Farm of Wellington, FL. The pair picked up a quick pace and never held back, finding each fence easily and leaving each rail in place as they sped across the finish line in 44.442 seconds. Their time could not be beat, and Sweetnam claimed the winning title.
"I think he was quick to the first few fences, as well as the in-and-out to the oxer," explained Sweetnam. "I was also quick rolling back to the vertical, so I think that won it for me. Fineman is a quick horse in general. He won a good class up in Spruce Meadows, and he's been very consistent, so I knew that if I could be clear I could be quick enough."
Sharn Wordley attempted to best Sweetnam's effort with Derly Chin De Muze, owned by Ashland Stables of Wellington, FL. He was able to leave all of the fences intact, but a clear time of 47.851 seconds was only good enough for the eventual third place.
The final rider to show was Max Amaya with Cartier, owned by Stonehenge Stables of Ocean, NJ. They put on the gas and cleared all the obstacles in their path, but fell two seconds short of Sweetnam with a time of 46.620 seconds to earn the second place honors.
"I think I was very quick at the beginning, but unfortunately I could not see a better distance to the double, and that kind of slowed me down a little bit," noted Amaya. "For a little horse he has a big stride, and I ended up getting there a little bit slow in the seven so that put me a little bit behind Shane. He gave his best as always, and I did the best that I could. My horse was exceptional."
Amaya began riding 12-year-old Cartier, previously owned by Alexa Lowe, in the fall of 2012. "Cartier had a very successful amateur and beginning of Grand Prix career," he said. "He's a very, very funny horse because he has a lot of personality. He's very laid back and lazy in the barn, but when he goes in the ring he's full game face and you have to be paying attention 100 percent."
Winners Sweetnam and Fineman are a new match, as he just purchased the Swedish Warmblood in June from Maria Gretzer. "She had showed him wonderfully, and since I've got him he's just been great," smiled Sweetnam. "He's a 10-year-old, but he doesn't have all that much mileage. His first 1.50m was here in June, so he still has to get going,, but I think he should jump some of the bigger grand prixs toward the end of the year."
Sweetnam added, "He makes life easy. You just pick up a rhythm, and you stay with him. He wants to please, and I really enjoy him."
Today's event was a part of Hats Off Day, a special celebration of the horse and it's impact on the state of Kentucky hosted by the Kentucky Horse Park. A large crowd filled the Rolex Stadium to cheer ton Sweetnam during his winning round. "The crowd was brilliant and I really enjoyed it," said Sweetnam. "It is one of the biggest crowds we get for a jumping class here in Kentucky so it's neat to see, and I hope they come out to more weeks as well."
For more information on the Kentucky Summer Series please go to www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
RESULTS: $50,000 ROOD & RIDDLE GRAND PRIX
1 1020 FINEMAN SHANE SWEETNAM 0 0 0 74.585 0 0 0 44.442
2 8 CARTIER MAX AMAYA 0 0 0 75.568 0 0 0 46.620
3 1169 DERLY CHIN DE MUZE SHARN WORDLEY 0 0 0 74.691 0 0 0 47.851
4 661 SPIRIT OF ALENA AARON VALE 0 0 76.070 4 0 4 45.180
5 1281 AMIGO ANGEL KAROLYI 0 0 0 77.645 4 0 4 48.159
6 1313 SOLERINA SHANE SWEETNAM 4 0 4 71.347
7 473 PALOUBET WILTON PORTER 4 0 4 73.357
8 1288 AMBOSELL PABLO BARRIOS 4 0 4 75.013
9 317 URBAN BLYTHE MARANO 4 0 4 75.015
10 57 ZARA LEANDRA PABLO BARRIOS 4 0 4 75.074
11 594 EVITA VAN'T PARADIJS COLIN SYQUIA 4 0 4 75.699
12 872 GELEDIMAR HANNAH VON HEIDEGGER 4 0 4 76.387
Source: Press release from Phelps Media Group, Inc. International.
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