Traverse City, Michigan, USA – September 08, 2022 – Shane Sweetnam (IRL) wasn’t going to let the summer pass without a big victory. This one came in Thursday’s $37,000 Corcoran Group Speed CSI 3* aboard Alejandro, a horse no stranger to the winner’s circle.
Sweetnam had two rides out of the 36 starting entries in Thursday’s class. Over a track built by Germany’s Olaf Petersen, Jr. (GER), the Irish rider piloted Caraghs Quality Lady, owned by Anna Beth Athey, to an early lead after clocking in at 65.45 seconds. His lead would hold strong until he returned to the ring 32nd in the order aboard Alejandro, the 13-year-old Rhinelander gelding (Acorado’s Ass x Continue) he owns with Seabrook LLC and Spy Coast Farm.
Putting his own time to the test, Sweetnam raced around the long, winding track and shaved off just below half a second which set a new time-to-beat of 64.60 seconds with only four remaining to challenge him.
The only pair to come close was Lisa Goldman-Smolen (USA) with Sovereign as the final combination on course. Denying Sweetnam the one-two finish, she piloted Barbara Disko’s 16-year-old Selle Francais stallion (Frontal x Galoubet A) across the finish line in 65.01 seconds to secure second place and pushed Sweetnam to third aboard Caraghs Quality Lady.
“I was lucky I had been around once already with Caraghs Quality Lady,” Sweetnam reflected on his plan with Alejandro. “I’d been pretty quick with her so I had a feel for the course. When I went with Alejandro, I knew the ones after me were really quick so I thought I’d try to get a bit quicker around the corners and the turns than I did with the first one.”
While Sweetnam has traveled back and forth between Traverse City and Europe to show and train, Alejandro has stayed primarily in Europe, competing at top venues.
“This year we’ve been going fast at most of the shows,” Sweetnam said about the horse’s progression. “He’s been the backup horse so he’s had to do a lot of speed classes. We’ve been getting a little quicker. This year he’s had more opportunities to go fast, and he’s beginning to get the hang of being quick without forcing it.”
“I turned back to the plank, and the start [of the turn] wasn’t great but the second half ended up being quicker,” he said, of where he thought he made up the time. “Coming home to the last I was really fast, and he was quick in the air so I think it made a difference there. He jumped really well, and I’m very happy with him.”
Sweetnam’s entire team at Sweet Oak Farm has had a successful season, from FEI jumping to pony hunters. “We love it here,” he commented. “We’ve been coming here for a long time. During COVID they ran fantastic shows here and we were here most of the summer, and same for last year we did six or seven weeks. We’re now here for a three-week spell. I find for the clients and students it’s great because they get up and running and can jump at a high level and learn to deal with that level. Then it’s also good for younger horses to get mileage; I have a good few eight-year-olds who are getting in the ring here and haven’t had much jumping this summer. It’s a great facility. The Morrisseys, Tom Blankenship, and everyone run a great show, and we’re happy to be here.”
International athletes will compete again Friday in the $37,000 GGT-Footing Welcome Stake CSI 3* before Sunday’s $138,600 Agero Grand Prix CSI 3*.
Final Results: $37,000 Corcoran Group Speed CSI 3*
1) Shane Sweetnam (IRL) & Alejandro: 2009 RHEIN gelding by Acorado’s Ass x Continue, Shane Sweetnam, Seabrook LLC, and Spy Coast Farm – 0 – 64.60
2) Lisa Goldman-Smolen (USA) & Sovereign: 2006 SF stallion by Frontal x Galoubet A, Barbara Disko – 0 – 65.01
3) Shane Sweetnam (IRL) & Caraghs Quality Lady: 2013 ISH mare by Obos Quality x Limmerick, Anna Beth Athey – 0 – 65.45
4) Alex Granato (USA) & Carlchen W: 2008 MECKL gelding by Chacco Blue x Continue, The Bright Lights Group – 0 – 65.65
5) Roberto Teran Tafur (COL) & Babycomeback: 2011 SF mare by Corofino II x Joyau D’or A, Trefoil Farm LLC – 0 – 66.24
6) Jacob Pope (USA) & Highway FBH: 2010 KWPN gelding by Plot Blue x Cornet Obolensky, Team Rakowsky Equestrian LLC – 0 – 66.77
7) Nicole Shahinian Simpson (USA) & Akuna Mattata: 2008 AHHA mare by Quinar Z x Landwind II, Silver Raven Farms – 0 – 66.98
8) Roberto Teran Tafur (COL) & Santana: 2013 HOLST gelding by Cascadello x Carthago, Rocking Basilisk Farm LLC – 0 – 68.07
9) Filippo Pignatti (ITA) & Ideaal ES: 2013 KWPN gelding by Ukato x Conway, Take The High Road, LLC – 0 – 71.82
10) Hilary McNerney (USA) & Captain Cooper: 2007 KWPN gelding by Namelus R x Corland, Hilary McNerney – 0 – 72.17
11) Hilary McNerney (USA) & Lovelight: 2011 HOLST stallion by Lord Z x Lordship, Hilary McNerney – 0 – 72.59
12) Victoria Ketchum (USA) & Extasy: 2012 HOLST mare by Quadros x Clearway, Copperline Farm LLC – 0 – 73.55
Source: Press Release from Traverse City Horse Shows
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography