SHANE Sweetnam is on a stellar run of form at just about the right time of the year, illustrated once more by winning the La Baule Derby at the prestigious French show on Saturday.

On the week in which he was revealed to be ninth in the Longines FEI world rankings, the Corkman piloted Irandole Du Flot to add another international five-star class to an already jam-packed CV. Last into the arena on the 10-year-old mare owned by Sweet Oak Farm and Seabrook, Sweetnam guided his willing and talented partner through the mammoth examination of 26 jumping obstacles without fault.

They shaved 2.5 seconds off the time of leader and world number three Steve Guerdat (SUI), riding Easy Star de Talma, to bag the first prize of €15,620 with a time of 137.97 seconds.

“It’s a great win,” declared the enthusiastic Sweetnam afterwards. “That’s Irandole’s first Derby. She’s a very good horse, owned by the Gilbertson family, getting placed all the time, so it was great to get to the top of the podium with her.

“I obviously had a good draw. I was last to go and had seen Steve go. It’s still difficult to get a clear round, but I knew I was on track and just tried to keep the pace up a little bit towards the end and pipped him. It’s lovely to win. It has always been a very special class, with a packed crowd there making it a great atmosphere.”

Just hours later, Sweetnam scored another podium finish in the 1.50m jump-off class riding the 10-year-old mare RR Combella. The combination were among nine to advance to the jump-off, and they jumped another clear against the clock to finish in third place and half a second behind Dutch winner Lars Kersten with Funky Fred Marienshof Z.

Grand Prix

Sweetnam was the only Irish rider to line out in Sunday’s €500,000 Rolex Grand Prix, where he finished seventh with the Patrick Connolly-bred Irish Sport Horse CSF James Kann Cruz (Kannan x Cruising), who has since been named for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The pair were among 11 first round clears and lowered a single fence in the jump-off, where victory went to America’s Kent Farrington and Greya with the fastest of four double clears. USA dominated the podium, with Karl Cook taking second place with Caracole De La Roque.

“I have never asked her to go at that speed before and she answered great. Our first international win is a Rolex Grand Prix!” Farrington commented.”It was a difficult course for a very high quality field.”

Ireland were not part of Friday’s Nations Cup at the venue, which was won by the German team of Andre Thieme (DSP Chakaria), Kendra Claricia Brinkop (Tabasco de Toxandria Z), Marcus Ehning (Coolio 42) and Philipp Weishaupt (Zineday). They saw off the home nation, France, by one fault.