Impressive Sweetnam second in CSI4* GP at Wellington

  • 29 January 2023, 08:59

Aga Khan Trophy hero Shane Sweetnam finished second in the $216,000 CSI4* NetJets Grand Prix at Wellington, Florida overnight.

The Corkman, on board Namaste Van Het Eyckeveld, put in a spectacular round of jumping in round one to join 13 other pairings, including Ireland’s Daniel Coyle, in the 1.55m jump-off.

With seven combinations left to jump, Sweetnam and his 10-year-old mount jumped into the lead in a time of 38.46 seconds.

That would prove tough to beat until Britain’s Ben Maher and Dallas Vegas Batilly pipped them by just over one tenth of a second to seal the victory in a time of 38.35 seconds.

America’s Kent Farrington joined Maher and Sweetnam on the podium in third, after he jumped clear in round two in 38.77 seconds.

Despite just missing out on the win, Sweetnam was happy with the performance.

He said: “I rode my plan and I know my fellow has a really big stride, especially at the end of the course so I trusted that it was there and he jumped it great. Obviously, it was not quick enough but I’m very happy with him.”

Coyle, who had jumped clear quicker than the whole field in round one, finished eighth overall after the jump-off.

The Derryman was again quickest but had an unfortunate four faults, nonetheless securing a top 10 finish.

The result came off the back of another superb performance in Florida, as Bertram Allen and Emmylou won the Wellington Equestrian Realty CSI4* 1.45m for owners Ballywalter Stables and Noel Delahunty Connaught Bloodstock on Friday evening.

Olympian Allen was delighted with the result, saying: “I was very early to go in fourth, so I was just going to go and give it my best shot. I have a very competitive horse and she gave a massive effort. She’s just fantastic and I knew that if I rode well that I could have a chance today.”