Five-star win for Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam in Florida ahead of $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix

  • 27 March 2021, 10:52

Cork-born Shane Sweetnam has once again shown his is one of the fastest riders on the planet, by taking victory with Indra van de Oude Heihoef in Friday’s $37,000 Bainbridge Companies 1m45 Classic at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida.

Shane Sweetnam and Indra van de Oude Heihoef (Photo:  Sporfot)

Nineteen of the 46 starters jumped clear,  with Olympic individual gold medalist Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Chacco Kid taking the early lead with a time of 62.24 seconds, which would hold up for second place at the finish. Riding early in the class as well, in fifth spot in the order, Sweetnam and Indra van de Oude Heihoef, owned by The Blue Buckle Group, shaved almost a full second off the leading time, taking it down to 61.26. None of the remaining entries were able to catch Sweetnam’s time, but Jessica Springsteen (USA) and Hungry Heart came close in 63.10 to take third place overall.

Although Sweetnam had not seen Lamaze’s round, seeing his time gave the Irish rider a good idea of what kind of speed he would need.

“I had walked a plan for myself,” explained Sweetnam. “Everything came up the way I had planned it and imagined it. On Wednesday, I thought I could have won that class as well, but I just got caught in one place with a second distance. Today, everything came up nice. It was beatable, but it was going to force people to always have to try hard for it.”

Shane Sweetnam (IRL) with Richard Schechter, Chairman and CEO of Bainbridge Companies, in his winning presentation. (Photo: Sportfot)

Sweetnam noted that having everything show up out of stride in Friday’s course made his horse’s path smooth and quick, due to “Ivy’s” way of going.

“She has a very big stride, so when everything shows up, it makes it a bit easier,” he said of the 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Casantos x Action-Breaker. “If you have to slow down with her, it definitely takes a half a second from you when you have to add a stride. Also, she jumps quite high, so all those inches and extra strides make a big difference to her. You have other horses that naturally are quick and can add a little stride here and there, like McLain’s horse [Catoki], who is super quick without leaving out strides. For a class like this, to win it, it has to all show up.”

The $500,000 five-star Rolex Grand Prix takes place this evening in Florida starting at 6pm Irish time, with a strong group of Irish riders looking for a slice of the huge prize fund.

Final Results: $37,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.45m Classic CSI5*

1. INDRA VAN DE OUDE HEIHOEF: 2008 Belgian Warmblood mare by Casantos x Action-Breaker
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), The Blue Buckle Group: 0/61.26

2. CHACCO KID: 2006 Oldenburg by Chacco Blue x Come On
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Chacco Kid Group: 0/62.24

3. HUNGRY HEART: 2012 SWB gelding by Baltimore 1178 x Loucaibo
JESSICA SPRINGSTEEN (USA), Stone Hill Farm: 0/63.10

4. OAK GROVE’S LAITH: 2011 Selle Français gelding by London x Sirene De Riverland
ABDEL SAID (EGY), AS Sporthorses: 0/64.09

5. KIANA VAN HET HERDERSHOF: 2010 BWP mare by Toulon x Starlight VD Hemelseschoot
DANIEL DEUSSER (GER), Stephex Stables: 0/64.29

6. VIENNA: 2011 Hanoverian mare by Valentino x Leena J
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms, LLC: 0/64.59