Both Shane Sweetnam and Cian O’Connor recorded notable successes at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida over the weekend.
Corkman Sweetnam beat off a world class field to score a superb victory in Saturday $401,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate five-star Grand Prix.
Sweetnam and Alejandro, a 12-year-old gelding, won after a stunning jump-off round when last to go against the clock.
Switzerland’s world number two Martin Fuchs and his 2018 world championship individual silver medalist mount, Clooney 51, had held the lead with a clear round in 37.16 seconds. However Sweetnam crossed the line in 37.03 seconds after a daring gallop to the last fence to take victory.
American Devin Ryan and Eddie Blue finished third with a clear in 38.74 seconds. Wexford’s Bertram Allen and The Irish Sport Horse Pacino Amiro were sixth with one fence down against the clock in 37.18 seconds.
Final Results: $401,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate Grand Prix CSI5*
- Alejandro and Shane Sweetnam 0/0/37.03
- Clooney 51 and Martin Fuchs 0/0/37.16
- Eddie Blue and Devin Ryan 0/0/38.74
O’Connor wins on Sunday
Cian O’Connor and the 10-year-old gelding Careca LS Elite won Sunday’s $50,000 Restylane two-star Grand Prix.
Seven of the 44 starters made it through to the second round. O’Connor, despite being first to go in the jump-off led from start to finish with his clear in 45.65 seconds proving unbeatable.
Canada’s Rachel Cornacchia and Valkyrie De Talma were second, two-hundredths of a second behind the winner. Jennifer Waxman of the USA and Mecho Van’t Kiezelhof finished third in 46.07 seconds.
The Olympic individual bronze medalist who has represented Ireland in 15 international championships has a string of up-and-coming horses at WEF this season with a very specific goal in mind for the 2021 season.
O’Connor will continue to campaign for the duration of WEF. He is also training students at the elite level, including Canadian Nicole Walker and up-and-coming Irish riders Max and Tom Wachman, grandsons of Coolmore owner John Magnier.
Final Results: $50,000 Restylane Grand Prix CSI2*
- Careca’s LS Elite and Cian O’Connor 0/0/45.65
- Valkyrie De Talma and Rachel Cornacchia 0/0/45.67
- Mecho Van’t Kiezelhof and Jennifer Waxman 0/0/46.07