Traverse City, Michigan, USA – July 10, 2020 – Flintfields Horse Park in Traverse City hosted a new field of eager show jumping competitors Friday as a lofty international field of 63 contenders took center stage for the $36,600 Honor Hill Farms Welcome Stake CSI 2*, the highlight event thus far of the second week of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC.
Representing five countries, including the United States, Israel, Ireland, Great Britain and Canada, the group of challengers vied over two rounds of riding that saw a final number of 8 double-clear efforts, led by the swiftest pair of the day, Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Dacantos Group’s Hunters Conlypso II. Friday’s win was the second Welcome Stake triumph for the Irishman after topping the same class just seven days ago.
Contributing to the large field was the fact that a number of riders increased their chances of taking home some prize money with three entries in the contest. Teddy Vlock (ISR), Hunter Holloway (USA), Rich Fellers (USA) and Charlie Jayne (USA) each improved their probability of victory with three mounts apiece, followed by a handful of riders who followed the same logic with two horses. Up to the task with a fair, yet technical, track, course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral (POR) provided a pattern of 16 fences for the initial phase of competition.
Serving as the pacesetter, Charlie Jayne (USA) turned in the first clear round aboard Amice Z, but he was soon joined by a talented group of jump-off qualifiers including Taylor Flury (USA), Shane Sweetnam (IRL), Teddy Vlock (ISR), Lauren Crooks (USA), Brian Moggre (USA) and Jennifer Waxman (USA) by the halfway point of the first round. The latter half of the round saw Holloway, Amanda Derbyshire (GBR), Andrew Bourns (IRL), Andrew Welles (USA), Paige Matthies (USA) and Abigail McArdle (USA) all ride to eligible trips on their respective mounts. Though they managed to keep all the rails in the cups, Peter Leone (USA), Margie Engle (USA), Isabella Russekoff (USA) and Holloway (USA), on one of her mounts, each incurred a single time fault to keep them out of the list of short course contenders. Interestingly, none of the riders with multiple mounts earned more than one slot in the jump-off.
Pruned to eight efforts, Cabral’s jump-off track ultimately saw 13 returners tackle the abridged course. The trailblazers, Jayne and Amice Z laid down the gauntlet with a speedy double-clear jump-off ride in 35.79 seconds. Not to be outdone as one of the fastest riders in the game, Week One’s Welcome Stake winner, Sweetnam, turned on the gas and sliced across the track with Hunters Conlypso II to break the beam in 35.61 seconds and usurp the early frontrunners to claim their stake as the leaders. Though six more partnerships logged second clear trips as the class continued, none were able to surpass the leading pair, or even the second-place duo.
Sweetnam and Hunters Conlypso II managed to lead the tie-breaker round for nearly the entire phase thanks to their footspeed to grab victory in the $36,600 Honor Hill Farms Welcome Stake CSI 2*, Sweetnam’s second Welcome Stake win in as many weeks. Jayne and his own Amice Z earned the runner-up honors, followed by owner-rider Bourns and Sea Topblue just milliseconds behind in 35.86 seconds, bookending the podium with another Irishman.
Previously sitting in fourth, Sweetnam jumped up the standings in the CaptiveOne Advisors $30,000 Leading Jumper Rider Bonus thanks to his standout results Friday. Now boasting 24 points, Sweetnam is in the runner-up position hot on the heels of Jonathan Corrigan (IRL) with 26 points. The bonus will be awarded to the rider who accumulates the most points in competitions $25,000 or more in prize money over the course of 11 weeks of riding in Traverse City, with the conclusion being the $213,300 CaptiveOne American Gold Cup Grand Prix CSI4* on September 13.
Two more days of competition will offer show jumpers shots at prize money during Week Two of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC. Sunday afternoon will showcase the greatest purse in the $50,000 Meijer Grand Prix CSI 2*, which is set to begin at 3 p.m.
Winner’s Circle – Shane Sweetnam (IRL)
On two Welcome Stake victories:
“It’s great! It’s a very hot class, so I probably had to let [my horse] out of the box a little more than I wanted. I’m not sure how Sunday will go now, but he did a great job today and was very fast.”.
On Hunters Conlypso II:
“This horse has been part of the Sweet Oak team for a while, probably three years now. Lorcan [Gallagher] has had great success with him in Nations Cups, 4* grand prix placings and World Cup placings, so I’m still getting to know him. Lorcan has done an amazing job with him and I’m lucky to have him. We will see how he bounces back Sunday after today. He has a lot of experience so hopefully I can get him to relax again and not be running away with me Sunday.”
On competing in Traverse City:
“Last week it was already hot enough, like Rich Fellers was here. Now there are more people here this week and there will be no easy wins. As we saw in this class, the first three or four were all within a second of each other.
On the Rider Bonus:
“I leave after this week, so I better get as many points as I can! It’s a great incentive from CaptiveOne and I’m hoping maybe I can stay up there at the top.”
Results – $36,600 Honor Hill Farms Welcome Stake CSI 2*
Place / Rider / Country / Horse / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) & Hunters Conlypso II / Dacantos Group / 0 | 69.10 / 0 | 35.61
2. Charlie Jayne (USA) & Amice Z / Charlie Jayne / 0 | 70.26 / 0 | 35.79
3. Andrew Bourns (IRL) & Sea Topblue / Andrew Bourns / 0 | 71.02 / 0 | 35.86
4. Abigail McArdle (USA) & Victorio 5 / Victorio Equine Group LLC / 0 | 70.98 / 0 | 36.84
5. Brian Moggre (USA) & MTM Vivre Le Reve / / Major Wager LLC / 0 | 71.09 / 0 | 37.81
6. Teddy Vlock (ISR) & Ricore Courcelle / / Vlock Show Stables LLC / 0 | 70.72 / 0 | 39.29
7. Jennifer Waxman (USA) & Deleyn / / Sweet Oak Farm / 0 | 70.74 / 0 | 41.31
8. Paige Matthies (USA) & Dirkie Z / / Barbara Smith / 0 | 69.94 / 0 | 42.30
9. Hunter Holloway (USA) & Lucky Strike / / Hays Investment Corp. / 0 | 70.79 / 4 | 36.18
10. Lauren Crooks (USA) & Dinamika / Dinamika Group / 0 | 71.06 / 4 | 39.16
11. Taylor Flury (USA) & Calano Z / MDM Equestrian Group LLC & Aliboo Farm Inc. / 0 | 71.43 / 4 | 39.57
12. Andrew Welles (USA) & CW Incorporated / Corporate Way LLC / 0 | 69.73 / 8 | 36.18
Source: Press release by Elaine Wessel / Phelps Media Group for Great Lakes Equestrian Festival
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography