The $20,000 International Open Jumper Gambler’s Choice Costume Class is always an exciting event at WIHS, especially with Barn Night and thousands of young fans cheering on the riders. In tonight’s class, Irish rider Shane Sweetnam jumped to victory dressed as a keg of beer riding Sweet Oak Farm's Solerina. The duo earned 960 points over the course and jumped clean over the Joker fence for an additional 200 points. Their 1160 total was the winning score.
For his victory, Sweetnam was presented with the Crown Royal Trophy, donated by Crown Royal, as the winning rider. Solerina, a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare by Cruising, won The Sue Ann Geisler Memorial Trophy, donated by the Washington International Horse Show, as the winning horse.
Beezie Madden (USA) dressed as her signature bumble bee riding Abigail Wexner's Vanilla and scored 1100 points to place second. Spiderman, a.k.a. Conor Swail (IRL), and Susan Grange's Ariana finished third with 1090 points. “Dr.” McLain Ward (USA) and Wings had the same 1090 total and a slower time placed them in fourth.
Shane Sweetnam has a good record with Gambler's Choice classes, finishing third in the class at WIHS two times and winning one in Harrisburg last year as well as placing in several others. He came up with a good plan tonight, and it paid off. “I’m good at math so I have a good plan I think, even with knocking a fence,” he stated. “Normally I have a decent plan. You have to leave the jumps up for the course.”
Sweetnam's mount, Solerina, is a successful horse and always puts in a great effort. “She has a lot of character, (and) she’s had great results since I’ve had her,” Sweetnam described. “She likes to stay in a rhythm. She really enjoys her jumping, so once she gets her eye on the jump she’s normally trying for you, so I can just jump-jump-turn. She’s naturally very quick.”
On his costume choice, Sweetnam explained that good friend Charlie Jayne gets him a costume each year and they have a good time with it. “It’s good fun,” he smiled. “We enjoy this class every year. We have a bit of banter about it, so I’m glad I beat him this year again.”
The cheering and great support of the Barn Night crowd also gets the riders into the fun mood. “It’s brilliant,” Sweetnam said of Barn Night. “It’s a very good idea. All evening it’s been buzzing between the pony racing and the High (Jr/AO) Jumper class and this class. There’s a big crowd and great atmosphere and those people understand show jumping as well, which is great. I really enjoy it.”
Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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