Wellington, Fla. – April 2, 2021 – The final week of competition at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) continued Friday, April 2, brining show jumping athletes back to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) for the $73,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic Series Final CSI4*. The esteemed finale of the 13-week long series rallied a star-studded field of international athletes from 10 different countries, totaling in 33 horse-and-rider combinations. All putting forth their best efforts in hopes of clinching the final title and the lion’s share of money, it was Shane Sweetnam who bested the competitive field with The Blue Buckle Group’s Indra Van de Oude Heihoef.
Course designer Olaf Petersen Jr. (GER) crafted the track fit for 4* status, with 13 obstacles and an 80-second time-allowed making up the first round. Setting the tone early on, Erynn Ballard (CAN) produced a clear round effort as the first athlete to take on the 1.50m track with Gakhir. Third on course, Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Brighton posted zero faults to the scoreboard, forcing a jump-off early on in the class. Ten others would book a return visit after the first phase, including Jessica Springsteen (USA), Hyde Moffatt (CAN), Darragh Kenny (IRL), Brianne Goutal-Marteau (USA), Adrienne Sternlicht (USA), Margie Engle (USA), McLain Ward (USA), Emily Moffitt (GBR), Sweetnam (IRL), Laura Kraut (USA) and Eugenio Garza Perez (MEX) for a total of 13 pairs in the jump-off.
Trimmed to eight fences for the second phase, Petersen’s tie-breaker pattern offered athletes and their mounts a series of rollback turns that left each partnership with decisions to be made about striding as they attempted to cross the timers as quickly as possible. First to attempt the abbreviated course, Ballard and Gakhir set the pace at 40.60 seconds without knocking any rails. Ballard’s lead would maintain following Foster’s 4-fault finish in 35.76 seconds with Brighton, but would be short lived as Springsteen and RMF Zecilie concluded the second phase track in a clear 39.04 seconds. Both Moffatt and Kenny would tip a rail each, keeping them from overtaking Springsteen despite their swift times. As the competition continued, Goutal-Marteau passed the timers with a faultless ride in 40 seconds, momentarily placing her in second. Speedy as ever, Sternlicht and Engle also posted double clear efforts in 37.60 seconds and 38.81 second, putting them in first and second place respectively. Moffitt and Ward would also post faults to the scoreboard, keeping them out of the running for the winning title. However, Sweetnam’s impressive jump-off in 35.56 seconds with Indra Van de Oude Heihoef would put him atop of the leaderboard with only two competitors remaining.
As the last successful challengers in the first round, Garza Perez and El Milagro’s 13-year-old Zangersheige stallion, Armani SL Z, laid it all on the line, but a fault free round just shy of Sweetnam in 35.73 seconds would ultimately lead them to the reserve honors of the day, and award Sweetnam and Indra Van de Oude Heihoef with the championship title. Finishing in third was Sternlight and Starlight Farms 1 LLC’s 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Benny’s Legacy.
Hot on the heels of a recent win, Sweetnam and the 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare are notorious for their swift rides thanks to “Ivy’s” lengthy stride. During Week 11 of WEF, the pair captured the win in the $37,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.45m Classic CSI5*. Indra Van de Oude Heihoef is a seasoned partner for Sweetnam, having competed in Nations Cup team event for Ireland and multiple CSI5* competitions.
Fellow Irishman Kenny claimed the CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic Series Leading Rider award for his consistent placings on a variety of horses throughout the 13 weeks of competition.
Show jumping competition at Week 12 of WEF will continue Saturday, April 3, with the High Junior Jumpers taking to the International Arena at 8:00 a.m., and will conclude with the highlight event of the day, the $214,000 Wellington Ag Services Grand Prix CSI4*. The Winter Equestrian Festival will conclude all competition Sunday, April 4.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Shane Sweetnam – $73,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic Series Final CSI4* winner
On Indra Van de Oude Heihoef:
“She’s an old and experienced grand prix horse at this point. If you follow her results, she goes clear pretty much every time, but you have to have a little bit of luck. We can plan, but we might touch a fence and then it’s over. Her results speak for themself. Normally she delivers, so I felt we had a good shot at winning today. She has a big heart and is super careful. She really doesn’t want to hit the jumps and 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 the jump-off today – Nations Cup horses, Olympic horses – that’s what you’re up against.”
On the class:
“This was the goal I had for [Indra Van de Oude Heihoef] for the end of the circuit. I actually gave her a break until last week when we did two nice classes and we won one of them out on the grass and then our focus was to have a good chance at winning today and obviously she delivered. I am very happy with how things went today.”
On WEF coming to an end:
“The WEF team has done a great job running a brilliant series that hasn’t been interrupted, which as you can see around the world right now, that’s a hard thing to do, so hats off to them for that. I’m sure it’s been a successful series for them too, but they really had to work hard for that. As for me personally, this has been my best WEF season so far, between grand prix wins and consistently earning the ribbons, today is really the cherry on top and it was really great to win today.”
$73,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic Series Final CSI4*:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Country / R1 Time | R1 Faults / R2 Time | R2 Faults
1. Indra Van De Oude Heiheof / Shane Sweetnam / The Buckle Blue Group / IRL / 77.81 | 0 / 35.56 | 0
2. Armani SL Z / Eugenio Garza Perez / El Milagro / MEX / 78.66 | 0 / 35.73 | 0
3. Benny’s Legacy / Adrienne Sternlicht / Emma Chapman / USA / 79.57 | 0 / 35.73 | 0
4. Dicas / Margie Engle / Storm Ridge Capital LLC, Show Horses, Garber & Gladwinds LLC / USA / 77.31 | 0 / 38.81 | 0
5. RMF Zecilie / Jessica Springsteen / USA / Rushy Marsh Farm LLC / 79.84 | 0 / 39.041 | 0
6. Tanael Des Bonnes / Brianne Goutal-Marteau / USA / Gerald Ford / 79.47 | 0 / 40.009 | 0
7. Gakhir / Erynn Ballard / CAN / Ilan Ferder & Esperanza Imports / 76. 79 | 0 / 40.602 | 0
8. Scarlett Du Sart Z / Darragh Kenny / IRL / Vlock Show Stables LLC / 75.66 | 0 / 35.588 | 4
9. Brighton / Tiffany Foster / CAN / Artisan Farms, LLC / 79.45 | 0 / 35.762 | 4
10. Blossom Z / Mclain Ward / Wyndmont, Susan Heller, Mclain Ward / USA / 75.12 | 0 / 35.809 | 4
11. Confu / Laura Kraut / USA / St. Bride’s Farm / 76.29 | 0 / 36.809 | 4
12. Grafton / Hyde Moffatt / CAN / Ariel Grange / 78.74 | 0 / 39.366 | 4