Shane Sweetnam & Cobolt. Ph. ©Tori Repole/NoelleFloyd.com
Shane Sweetnam scored one for Team Ireland during the all-important FEI Nations Cup week at the Winter Equestrian Festival on Thursday, March 2, 2017 in Wellington, Florida.
The Irish rider topped the $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup CSIO4* – Round 8 aboard Cobalt, an 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Cyklon 1083 x Camaro M), over the Ken Krome-designed track. With a busy schedule of international show jumping competition slated for the week at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, the day’s competition was run in a single round speed format.
Sweetnam’s Thursday victory was a welcome boost ahead of the $150,000 FEI Nations Cup CSIO4*, when Ireland will be set to defend their 2016 WEF Nations Cup win. Sweetnam, who rode on the Irish squad last year, is preparing to make a return appearance on Friday evening.
But on Thursday it was all about Cobolt, and Sweetnam, who went late in the order, found the winning path in 69.13 seconds. That was enough to push the USA’s Todd Minikus and Valinski S into 2nd place over their time of 69.91 seconds. Jeroen Dubbeldam and Zenith SFN, the reigning World Champions from The Netherlands, slotted into 3rd place in a time of 71.43 seconds. In all, ten pairs managed clear rounds out of the entry list of 58.
Leslie Howard and Donna Speciale were very close to the winning time in 69.41 seconds, but a rail at the penultimate fence kept them out of the money. And five pairs jumped without ticking a rail, but were a little off the clock for a single time fault.
“I think the course builder did a good job,” Sweetnam said. “There were a lot of numbers, and a couple of rollback turns that you could make up time. In the last line there was a leave-out, which I did take a chance there. That could really help you win or lose a class. I felt the course suited my horse beforehand, and then it did work out well.”
Sweetnam is also the jockey for Cobolt’s sire, Cyklon, but noted that it’s difficult to compare the two.
“He is similar to Cyklon. He looks similar and they have the same sort of attitude,” Sweetnam detailed. “He likes to go fast, and he is naturally quick. Cyklon is still going and I have a very special place for him. He has won everywhere, and I do not think there are many horses as good as Cyklon at what he does, so it is hard to compare them. We judge Cobolt as a different character.”
See the complete results of the $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup at this link.