Shane Sweetnam got his long-awaited first Longines FEI Jumping World Cup victory Saturday night during the National Horse Show (Kentucky), sweeping to the top of an 11-horse jump-off with James Kann Cruz.
Sweetnam, who went fourth in the jump-off for the $226,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Lexington, stopped the clocks in a time of 33.41 seconds that proved unbeatable. Defending champion Daniel Bluman of Israel and Gemma W came closest, finishing second in 34.14. Devin Ryan (USA) finished third for the second week in a row with Eddie Blue (34.22), which secured him the lead in the NAL standings with 30 points.
“To win this class is a big deal,” said Sweetnam, whose summer base is in Lexington, adjacent to the Kentucky Horse Park. “For me, it was always one of the ones I wanted to win.”
Sweetnam caught plenty of air in the first round, as James Kann Cruz, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Kannan—CSF Telly Kruz, Cruising) owned by Gizmo Partners LLC, showed off his brilliant power and scope. In the jump-off, that could have cost valuable time on the clock, but it also allowed Sweetnam to take more risks in his track. The pair set themselves apart with a pair of left-out strides and a bold turn back to a combination toward the end of the course. When James Kann Cruz slipped, it left the horse not even a stride to judge the fence. Still, he cleared it with ease.
“I felt that there were a lot of fast riders, good riders behind me. Honestly, when I came out of the ring, I was thinking I still might not have done enough,” Sweetnam said. “I definitely wasn’t sure I had the win, but I really did as much as I could in the ring.
“We slipped a little bit going into the double, and [James Kann Cruz] had to show how amazing he was,” he added. “That wasn’t planned, but it just shows how talented he is.”
Watch their winning jump-off, courtesy of FEI.tv:
See complete results here.