Shane Sweetnam & Chaqui Z. Ph. Taylor Renner/PMG
The 2016 CP National Horse Show continued under the lights of the Alltech Arena in Lexington, KY on Thursday evening with the $130,000 CP International Open Jumper Grand Prix CSI4*
For the second evening in a row, Ireland would be the country to come out on top, with Shane Sweetnam taking the win aboard the Spy Coast Farm LLC-owned Chaqui Z (Chacco Blue x Quilina Z).
“The course was difficult… the combination and the last line in particular. I was pretty tight everywhere but I wasn’t galloping fast or taking big risks,” Sweetnam said. “I thought when I came out of the ring that I might be in the top four or something like that. But it seemed to work out – today was my day.”
Forty-four horses attempted the first track designed by Michel Vaillancourt. A difficult triple combination and a tight time allowed bested the majority of riders, sending only ten to the jump-off phase.
Sweetnam and Chaqui Z, a 2006 Zangersheide stallion, were first to go in the jump off round, and completed the short track in a fast time of 38.13 seconds. The time would prove to be unbeatable through nine more efforts.
“I knew I was going to have a time fault if I did the outside turns so I had to do something about it. Some horses, like Katie’s (Dinan), are naturally quick, so she could go around and she was always going to be comfortable. But the slower horses did struggle unless they did something different,” Sweetnam explained.
Close on the Irishman’s heels was American rider Charlie Jacobs aboard the CMI Sporthorse LLC ride Cassinja S (Carinjo x Casina). He completed the shortened track in a time of 40.69 seconds, two seconds behind Sweetnam.
“I was in the stands watching when Shane (Sweetnam) went. I had aspirations to go and get a crack at it, but when I saw him go, I said ‘you know, it’s probably better for me to back off the gas and focus on a nice clean round.’ We were fortunate enough to do that tonight,” Jacobs said.
Rounding out the top three finishers was young American talent Katie Dinan aboard the Grant Road Partners LLC owned Dougie Douglas.
“I can’t really take much credit for training Dougie, I’ve only been riding him since the beginning of this year,” Dinan explained. “I think over the last 11 months we’ve built up a great partnership together and I have a lot of trust him. He’s really a pleasure to ride. I just went in the ring hoping to be clear and competitive.”
Dinan, who stayed on track with the leading time for the first half of her course, rode conservatively to the final combination and finished in a time of 40.74 seconds.
Margie Goldstein- Engle finished in fourth place aboard Abunola in a time of 41.40 seconds. Rounding out the top five placings was Wednesday’s Welcome Speed winner Richie Maloney. He piloted Carrabis Z to a faultless round in a time of 46.57 seconds.
With competition just getting underway in Lexington, one thing is for sure; the Irish will be the ones to beat this week.