Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z Conquer CSIO4* Grand Prix at WEF

Shane Sweetnam
Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z. PC: Sportfot
Wellington, FL – March 5, 2017 – Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam concluded an exceptional week of CSIO 4* competition at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL, with a win aboard Chaqui Z in Sunday’s $216,000 Grand Prix CSIO 4*, presented by Lugano Diamonds.

After winning Thursday’s $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 8 aboard Cobolt, and Friday’s $150,000 FEI Nations’ Cup riding Chaqui Z for team Ireland, Sweetnam led the round of honor ahead of teammates Conor Swail and Rubens LS La Silla in Sunday’s feature event. Ali Wolff and Casall placed third after also helping team USA to a silver medal in Friday’s Nations’ Cup.

The Winter Equestrian Festival continues in its ninth week of competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on March 8-12, 2017. The $380,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix CSI 5*, presented by The Bainbridge Companies, is the week’s feature event onSaturday, March 11. The 12-week WEF circuit continues through April 2, 2017, awarding over $9 million in prize money.

Course designer Ken Krome (USA) concluded the week with 43 entries in Sunday’s grand prix and a 17-horse jump-off. The large number over the short course set an interesting challenge, as riders raced against the clock, and only seven cleared the tiebreaking course without fault. Sweetnam and Spy Coast Farm’s Chaqui Z took the win in 41.79 seconds. Swail and Vanessa Mannix’s Rubens LS La Silla were close behind in 41.82 seconds. Wolff and Blacklick Bend Farm’s Casall clocked in at 43.02 seconds.

USA’s Beezie Madden jumped Abigail Wexner’s Coach to a fourth place finish in 43.11 seconds. Great Britain’s Jessica Mendoza and Toy Boy placed fifth in 43.23 seconds.

Sweetnam swept international competition during WEF 8 to be awarded the Niall Grimes “Cheers” Perpetual Trophy as the top Irish rider during CSIO week, an honor he also received in 2011. His winning mount for Nations’ Cup and grand prix competition was Chaqui Z, an 11-year-old Zangersheide stallion (Chacco-Blue x Quinar Z)

“It was brilliant. Honestly, this is a dream week for me,” Sweetnam acknowledged. “Any week of WEF, if you can win the WEF (Challenge Cup) and the grand prix, it nearly can make a WEF [circuit]. So to win the WEF, the Nations’ Cup, and then the grand prix, it is amazing.”

Ali Wolff, Shane Sweetnam, and Conor Swail in their winning presentation with Ariel Bluman, Craig Dickmann, Director of Equestrian,and Stuart Winston, Chief Marketing Officer, Executive Director of Retail, Lugano Diamonds; Lisa Lourie of Spy Coast Farms; Olivia, Lucy, and Collin Sweetnam; Tina and Bill Justice; Jerry and Maria Sweetnam; Noel Phelan; Michael Stone, President of Equestrian Sport Productions; and ringmaster Steve Rector. PC: Sportfot
Remarking on his win on Sunday, Sweetnam stated, “It was a fantastic first round, but then there were 17 in the jump-off, and I was thinking that I had no hope. Chaqui is very good at turns, which he proved, but he is not always the fastest. I was quick, and Chaqui did the turns super. Lucky enough, my time lasted.”

Sweetnam is a fan of Ken Krome’s courses after the success he had throughout the week. The rider noted, “I think all week he did a great job. I was impressed with the WEF starting off, because it was not just a speed class. It was a lot of jumping, but you did not have to run your horse off its feet.Friday night, he only had three double clears, which was a great course. Today, okay there were probably more clears than you would want, but then it was a very good jump-off. That is the way the sport seems to be going. It makes it more exciting, and it makes people want to come watch. It just gets faster and faster. There were a lot of good horses, and it made for a very good class.”

The top three celebrate with a champagne spray. PC: Sportfot

For his second place finish, Swail was also aboard his winning Nations’ Cup mount with the 11-year-old Mexican Sport Horse stallion (Rebozo LS La Silla x Cash) Rubens LS La Silla. Remarking on his round, Swail stated, “I think I felt a little bit the same as Shane when there were 17 clear. My horse is not the fastest horse. He is a big, rangy, slower type. I was thinking, ‘Okay, if we can get into the top four, I am building on what is becoming a very consistent and promising horse.’ I was lucky with a good draw; I was second to last to go. When I was going into the ring, I felt I could beat Shane. The big key for me was I needed six strides from one to two. Unfortunately, I got a slow shot to number one, and I was not able to get it. I was a little bit chasing after that, but how the horse jumped and how he did, I was so pleased with him.”

Conor Swail and Rubens LS La Silla. PC: Sportfot

Wolff’s mount for CSIO week was Casall, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Casall ASK x Capitol I) that she has been partnered with for five years.

“We have just kind of been bringing him up the ranks,” Wolff detailed. “I bought him as a sales horse to maybe do the Junior/Amateurs on, but he ended up just jumping higher and higher. He still has a bright future ahead of him. He is pretty seasoned now, but he has just been phenomenal for me and my career.”

Ali Wolff and Casall. PC: Sportfot

Describing her jump-off round, Wolff added, “Going early on, it is a little hard because I knew I had about 12 other people behind me, including Shane and Conor. But then I saw Kent go, and he made an error and was a little rushed. I just had to go in knowing that I had to go my own speed. I started off with my pace that I wanted. I was able to finish on the same pace, and everything kind of came up naturally. I got a little bit of a lucky rub on the last fence, but he was really good for me.”

For her success this week, Wolff was also presented the Leading Lady Rider Award for week eight, presented by Martha Jolicoeur of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
Also competing in the International Arena on Sunday, Tracy Williams and Bendoctro won the $10,000 Horseware Ireland Don Little Masters Classic. Lucy Deslauriers and Mario Deslauriers’ Curo won the $10,000 SJHOF High Junior Jumper Classic, presented by Sleepy P Ranch.

Victoria Herran and Con-Grande Top Palm Beach International Academy Children’s Hunter 15-17

Victoria Herran and Con-Grande were named champions of the Palm Beach International Academy Children’s Hunter 15-17 division on Sunday morning. Herran piloted her mount to a win over fences, third, fourth, and sixth place finishes over fences, as well as a third place finish under saddle. Herran lives in Miami, FL, and commutes to WEF to show on the weekends.
Victoria Herran and Con-Grande. PC: Sportfot

Speaking of her over fences rounds, Herran said, “He felt great. My first round went very well. We had a consistent pace and didn’t chip anywhere. My horse was right on the game. The second round wasn’t our best, but we still did okay. Overall, I’m very happy.”

Con-Grande, an entry owned by CPS Equest, LLC, is a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Conterno Grande.
“I’ve had him for about a year now,” Herran continued. “I love him. He’s a very serious horse; he knows what he has to do, likes to work, and isn’t really the fun and play kind of dude. We’ve been showing in the Children’s Hunters, and next year we’re planning on moving up to the 3’6″ Juniors.”
Victoria Herran and Con-Grande in their championship presentation with trainer Vivianne Marzullo. PC: Sportfot

The division had a three-way-tie for reserve champion with Sophia Soja, Sarah Ekola, and Abigail Tinsley each earning a tricolor ribbon. Soja of Chappaqua, NY, piloted Casco De La Vie Z, an entry owned by Jimmy Torano, to a win and a fourth place finish over fences. Abigail Tinsley of Sudbury, MA, rode her own Zonder Z Quattro to two second place finishes over fences. Sarah Ekola of Blythewood, SC, guided Zanzibar to a win and a fourth place finish over fences.

The Winter Equestrian Festival continues in its ninth week of competition on March 8-12, 2017. For more information and full results, please visit
$216,000 Grand Prix CSIO 4*, presented by Lugano Diamonds Results: