Traverse City, Michigan, USA – September 18, 2022 – What a horse! That was the phrase echoed throughout Flintfields Horse Park all week, but especially after the conclusion of the $405,300 American Gold Cup Grand Prix CSI 5*, when Shane Sweetnam (IRL) took the win aboard James Kann Cruz.
“It’s a great feeling to have,” Sweetnam said of the ride aboard James Kann Cruz, owned by Gizmo Partners LLC. “It’s one of those horses you search your whole career to find, and when you find it you don’t believe it’s real. Every day he comes out and his form is even better. So I have to echo: what a horse.”
Sweetnam scored his second-ever CSI5* grand prix win with the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Kannan x Cruising) as the sole double-clear effort over Alan Wade’s (IRL) course, besting a three-horse jump-off and becoming only the second-ever non-North American to win the prestigious title.
Behind Sweetnam, still chasing his first American Gold Cup win, was McLain Ward (USA) and Callas (Casall x Coriano), owned by Beechwood Stables LLC. With one rail down in the jump-off, Ward was still thrilled with the outcome considering his still budding partnership with the mare.
“I’m a huge fan of Alan Wade’s,” said Ward. “To me he’s one of the three best [course designers] in the world. I thought today’s course was challenging. He certainly built a proper five-star grand prix. [Open] water in a sand arena is always a challenge, which we saw today. A phenomenal horse won the class and I was excited to be in the mix.”
Lacey Gilbertson (USA) took third place as the only other clear effort over the first-round track aboard the Seabrook LLC-owned Karlin van’t Vennehof. Third to jump off, she had the comfort of watching two of the very best in the sport take on the short course, one of whom was Sweetnam, her own trainer.
“Following both of them took the pressure off,” Gilbertson said. “They’re both amazing – two of the best in the world. I just needed to go in, be confident, and try to do what I could.”
The Morrissey Management Group was thrilled with the turnout from Northern Michigan horse fans and the exceptional sport put on display to conclude the season in Traverse City. “The crowd here today was great,” said Michael Morrissey, Sr. “So many top athletes in the world are here competing, and they gave them quite a performance. Today Alan [Wade] gave them a hard test and the horses performed, the athletes performed, and it was a great class.”
Sweetnam was not alone in believing his horse had unlimited potential, and the crowd saw that on display in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring twice during the week. “I always thought there was something special about him but you never know until you start working with a horse and start building the relationship,” he said of James Kann Cruz. “As soon as we turned up in January, everything went the right way and everyone was talking about him. It’s a different kind of pressure to win, and instead of managing every little detail I just have to let him do what he can do. He’s a great horse and he showed that [today].”
Sweetnam’s season was filled with top results for his entire team, including two Sweet Oak Farm team members atop the podium in the final Grand Prix of the season. “Each year they up the standard,” he said of Traverse City Horse Shows. “From the top level, to the progression of younger horses and for the clients, it’s great. Lacey started here jumping three stars at the start of the summer and she was able to jump into the five-star. They have a great niche here for progression. And it’s a nice place to be as well.”
Final Results – $405,300 American Gold Cup Grand Prix CSI 5*
Place / Rider / Country / Horse / Breed / Sire / Dam Sire / Owners / R1 Score / Jump-off Score / Jump-off Time
1. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) & James Kann Cruz: 2013 ISH gelding by Kannan x Cruising, Gizmo Partners LLC – 0 / 0 – 40.42
2. McLain Ward (USA) & Callas: 2008 HOLST mare by Casall x Coriano, Beechwood Stables LLC – 0 / 4 – 41.71
3. Lacey Gilbertson (USA) & Karlin van’T Vennehof: 2010 BWP mare by Fantomas De Muze x Quasimodo Van De Molendreef, Seabrook LLC – 0 / 12 – 42.25
Source: Press Release from Traverse City Horse Shows
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography