Lexington, Kentucky, USA – May 20, 2021 – As the sun set on the Kentucky Horse Park Thursday evening to conclude the second day of the Kentucky Spring Classic, international show jumping athletes gathered at the Rolex Arena to contend for top honors in the $37,000 1.45m Spring Classic CSI3*. Out of a whopping field of 86 competitors, just 22 athletes managed clear efforts, and in the end it was Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Ideal to emerge victorious and claim their rightful spot in the winner’s circle.
Ken Krome (USA) set forth a 13-obstacle track and a 73-second time-allowed to challenge athletes through a winding course starting with a triple bar and followed by several combination lines and long approach fences. Competitors representing 10 different nations were hopeful to navigate qualifying rides in order to nab one of 60 coveted spots in Saturday evening’s $137,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix, presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, and a shot at the lion’s share of the prize money. The second pair in the order of go, Ireland’s Daniel Coyle and Legacy, navigated the first clear round of the evening, followed by 21 athletes to qualify for the tie-breaking jump-off.
Just 16 athletes elected to return for the jump-off round, with the United States’ Bliss Heers (USA) and Goodbye, owned by Bridgeside Farms LLC, being the pathfinders for the shortened 7-obstacle course. Heers set the standard high finishing on a clear round in a swift 43.43 seconds aboard Goodbye, owned by Bridgeside Farms LLC. A few riders to follow would leave all of the rails intact, including Ali Ramsay (USA) and Ben Asselin (CAN), but none were quick enough to take the leading spot.
Veteran competitor Rowan Willis (AUS) entered the arena hungry for a win aboard his own Wellington Grey Goose, cutting corners and speeding around the track to nearly take Heers’ top spot in 43.02 seconds. New Zealand’s Sharn Wordley didn’t knock any rails out of the cups, but couldn’t compete with Willis’ new leading time.
Known for his speed and finesse through a jump-off course, the United States’ Kent Farrington (USA) navigated a near effortless ride with Orafina, owned by Kent Farrington LLC, to shave just one-hundredth of a second off of Willis’ time to move into first on a time of 42.91 seconds. It appeared Farrington would take the win until Ireland’s Sweetnam (IRL) entered the arena riding Ideal, owned by Sweet Oak Farm and Seabrook Farm LLC. The pair knew they had to be tactful on course in order to best Farrington’s time, and they were successful, emerging through the timers in 42.68 seconds and sliding into first place. The final rider on course, Lacey Gilberton (USA), could not match Sweetnam, ultimately lending him top honors. Farrington and Orafina would then claim second place, with Willis (AUS) and Wellington Grey Goose rounding out the top three.
Sweetnam (IRL) recently gained the ride back on Ideal in December 2020 after loaning the 9-year-old Swedish Warmblood to David O’Brien for the 2020 season. The gelding has notched notable wins during his short career thus far, including multiple second-place finishes in CSI5* competition at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) with Sweetnam in the irons. Sweetnam spoke highly of the young gelding’s talent and looks forward to his successful future.
Shane Sweetnam – $37,000 1.45m Spring Classic CSI3* winner
“I have had him since he was a 7-year-old. I competed with him when I first got him, but just started really competing with him in December. I gave him to David O’Brien who rides for Spycoast Farm for last year, and he did a wonderful job with him. He had a few good results from him and then I took him back in December and from there we have been really successful together. He has actually been second in four big classes down at WEF [Winter Equestrian Festival] in the 1.50m, which are hard classes to get placed in. This is sort of our first big win, which is great.”
On the jump-off:
“In the jump-off, I knew that [Ideal] could be very fast. I had a little bit of luck at the second part of the double combination, but he jumped great. I saw what Kent [Farrington] had done and I knew that I had to be quick. So basically, my quickest plan possible, I did it. I did one more stride to the green oxer than many other people did, which I knew could be an option, but I did one less to the oxer beforehand. And it worked out.”
On the first round:
“There were a lot of horses in the first round. It was a very hard course to build and it was going on for a really long time, so it turns into middle of the day, middle of the afternoon and then turns into a night class. It is tricky for the younger horses and maybe for the younger riders sometimes. If you noticed, the later it got, there were less clear rounds, just with the shadows and everything. That was expected. I think last week that happened a little bit also. But [Ken Krome] did a great job. It was a great class and I won, so I will take it!”
Final Results – $37,000 Spring Classic CSI 3*
1) Shane Sweetnam (IRL) & Ideal – 0 / 0 – 42.680
2) Kent Farrington (USA) & Orafina – 0 / 0 – 42.910
3) Rowan Willis (AUS) & Wellington Grey Goose – 0 / 0 – 43.020
4) Bliss Heers (USA) & Goodbye – 0 / 0 – 43.420
5) Ali Ramsay (CAN) & Bonita VH Keizershof Z – 0 / 0 – 43.430
6) Ben Asselin (CAN) & The Freshman – 0 / 0 – 45.330
7) Sharn Wordley (NZL) & Verdini D’Houtveld Z – 0 / 0 – 45.830
8) Rene Dittmer (GER) & Emmerton – 0 / 0 – 47.530
9) Alex Granato (USA) & Carlchen W – 0 / 4 – 41.280
10) Eve Jobs (USA) & Charleville – 0 / 4 – 41.760
11) Lacey Gilbertson (USA) & Viti De Longa – 0 / 4 – 46. 220
12) Kent Farrington (USA) & Austria 2 – 0 / 4 – 51.250
Source: Press Release from Kentucky Horse Shows
Photos: © Allyson Lagiovane