By Kate Pettersen, and Summer Grace for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Wellington, FL – April 2, 2021 – A busy Friday afternoon at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) was highlighted by a victory for Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Indra Van De Oude Heihoef owned by The Blue Buckle Group, in the $73,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic Series Final on Friday, April 2, in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC).
The twelfth week of WEF, sponsored by Wellington Agricultural Services, has CSI4* competition along with a concurrent CSI2* running through Sunday, April 4, the final day of the 2021 WEF. An exciting weekend schedule is highlighted by the $214,000 Wellington Agricultural Services Grand Prix CSI4* and WEF Circuit Champion Parade on Saturday. The week concludes with the $50,000 Wanderers Club 1.45m Grand Prix CSI2* on Sunday.
Hunter competition continues on the grass during WEF 12 at the Derby Field at Equestrian Village with the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Round 1 on Saturday at 11 a.m. Following that, the top 12 will return for a handy round. All feature classes can be watched for free both live and on-demand on the livestream.
The series final began over a 1.50m opening round track set by Olaf Petersen Jr. (GER) featuring 16 jumping efforts for the 33 competitors who qualified for Friday’s competition. From there, 13 horse-and-rider combinations representing five different nations put forth clear efforts to punch their ticket into the jump-off.
First to return for the second round, Erynn Ballard (CAN) piloted Gakhir, owned by Ilan Ferder and Esperanza Imports, LLC, to a clear effort in 40.60 seconds, setting the pace for the remainder of the field. Next to go, Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Brighton, owned by Artisan Farms, LLC, had an unlucky rail at the final fence on course. With the following combination, there was a change atop the leaderboard as Jessica Springsteen (USA) and RMF Zecilie, owned by Rushy Marsh Farm, jumped a clear round in 39.04 seconds.
The overall CaptiveOne Advisors Jumper Series leader was caught by the final jump as Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Scarlett Du Sart Z, owned by Vlock Show Stables, LLC, landed on four faults in a time of 35.58 seconds.
Two riders after that, Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) and Bennys Legacy owned by Starlight Farms, LLC, moved into the lead, stopping the clock at 37.60 seconds. In the end, the 27-year-old rider would land in third position aboard the 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Lupicor x Acordia.
Following Sternlicht, the door was left open just a crack and one of the world’s fastest Irishmen seized the opportunity. Sweetnam and Indra Van De Oude Heihoef, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Casantos x Action-Breaker, who shaved nearly a full second off the leading time to take over top spot in 35.56 seconds.
Last to go, Eugenio Garza Perez (MEX) and Armani SL Z owned by El Milagro, gave it their best shot and came close. The 24-year-old rider piloted his 13-year-old Zangersheide stallion by Asca Z x Cumano to a second-place finish in a time of 35.70 seconds, less than two-tenths of a second off the leading pace.
“This class was the aim for my horse for the end of circuit,” said Sweetnam of his plan heading into Friday’s final. “I actually gave her a break and then did two nice classes last week on the derby field. She won one of them, and then her focus was to try to have a good chance at winning this, which she delivered. I’m very happy when the plan comes together.
“She has a big heart, and she’s super, super careful,” he continued. “She really does not want to hit the jumps, and obviously when you’re going at that speed in the jump-off, you need a special horse to keep the jumps up. You see the standard of horses in that jump-off, Nations Cup-caliber horses, championship horses; that’s what you’re up against, so I’m very happy with her.
The win marked one of many for Sweetnam, who had an incredibly successful campaign during the 2021 WEF with victory in the $401,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate Grand Prix CSI5* during WEF 5, as well as representing his home country of Ireland for a second-place finish in the $150,000 Nations Cup CSIO4* during WEF 8.
“This is probably the best WEF I’ve had,” he said, “between grand prix wins and being consistently in the ribbons with a good team of horses and owners behind me. This is my last class of the season, so this win is just the cherry on top. It’s a great way to finish off.”
Sweetnam added, “I think [WEF Show Manager] David Burton, [Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) President] Michael Stone, [ESP CEO] Mark Bellissimo, and the entire ESP team have done a great job running a brilliant circuit that hasn’t been interrupted. As you can see around the world, that seems to be a very hard thing to do, so my hat is off to them for doing that. They’ve worked very hard for it.”
Following the final, Ireland’s Darragh Kenny was crowned overall champion of the CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic Series. In honor of his win, Kenny was awarded a Yacht Outing on the CaptiveOne professional fishing vessel ‘Reel Captivating’ – with the choice of between a sunset dinner cruise, or day trip deep-sea fishing, for up to six people.
Final Results: $73,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic Series Final
1. INDRA VAN DE OUDE HEIHOEF: 2008 Belgian Warmblood mare by Casantos x Action-Breaker
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), The Blue Buckle Group: 0/0/35.56
2. ARMANI SL Z: 2008 Zangersheide stallion by Asca Z x Cumano
EUGENIO GARZA (MEX), El Milagro: 0/0/35.70
3. BENNYS LEGACY: 2008 Oldenburg gelding by Lupicor x Acordia
ADRIENNE STERNLICHT (USA), Starlight Farms, LLC: 0/0/37.60
4. DICAS: 2009 Rheinlander gelding by Diarado x Cassini I
MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Storm Ridge Capital LLC, Show Horses, Selma Garber & Gladewinds Partners LLC: 0/0/38.81
5. RMF ZECILIE: 2007 Holsteiner mare by Acolord x Canturo
JESSICA SPRINGSTEEN (USA), Rushy Marsh Farm: 0/0/39.04
6. TANAEL DES BONNES: 2007 Selle Français gelding by Watch me van’t Zorgvliet x Don Pierre
BRIANNE GOUTAL-MARTEAU (USA), Gerald Ford: 0/0/40.00
7. GAKHIR: 2011 KWPN gelding by Spartacus x Indorado
ERYNN BALLARD (CAN), Ilan Ferder and Esperanza Imports, LLC: 0/0/40.60
8. SCARLETT DU SART Z: 2010 Zangersheide mare by Stakkato de hann x First Bride
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Vlock Show Stables, LLC: 0/4/35.58
9. BRIGHTON: 2006 KWPN gelding by Contender II x Quick Star
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/4/35.76
10. BLOSSOM Z: 2010 Zangersheide mare by Balou Du Rouet x Cleopatra Z
MCLAIN WARD, Wyndmont, Susan Heller and McLain Ward: 0/4/35.80
11. CONFU: 2007 Holsteiner gelding by Contact Me x Cambridge
LAURA KRAUT (USA), St. Bride’s Farm: 0/4/36.89
12. GRAFTON: 2006 Selle Francais gelding by Calvaro x Vondeen
HYDE MOFFATT (CAN), Ariel Grange: 0/4/39.36