SHANE Sweetnam and the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse James Kann Cruz have added another Grand Prix win to their tally, with a victory in the CSI3* $125,000 Hagyard Lexington Grand Prix at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show on Saturday night.

Bred in Galway by Patrick Connolly, James Kann Cruz has been a very reliable partner to his Cork rider and, once again, the pair showed their class with a brilliant and fast double clear. From the starting field of 28, 12 made it through to an exciting jump-off, where Sweetnam’s speedy time of 40.68 seconds just pipped Canadian Tiffany Foster on Electrique (40.83) by only 0.15 seconds! Argentinian Luis Pedro Biraben on Chacco Bumpy (41.44) took the remaining podium place in third.

“He’s very talented – he can be a little bit spirited, but I don’t mind that,” noted Sweetnam after his win.

“I like that he really understands his job, so if I can keep him in the right place, then he’ll do the rest. From the start, we’ve been a good match, so hopefully we can stay that way!”

The testing course was designed by Anderson Lima and comprised several challenges for horses and riders; of the 12 first-round clears, just seven managed to jump clear again second time round. Biraben and Chacco Bumpy jumped clear in 41.44 seconds, which was the time to beat until Foster and Electrique stopped the clock in 40.83. Sweetnam and James Kann Cruz were out to win and they rode some inside lines and galloped through the beams in 40.68 seconds to claim the top prize of $31,250.

Head start

“He was quite handy coming inside the gazebo – I think that line and the line after, I was quite quick,” explained Sweetnam. “That really got me a head start to catch up with Tiffany. The last two, I just kept coming a little bit, but nothing wild. I think it was early on the course that got it for me.”

Sweetnam has been riding James Kann Cruz (by Kannan (KWPN) out of CSF Telly Cruz (ISH) by Cruising (ISH)[TIH]) for the past three years, and is using the Kentucky Spring Horse Show to prepare for representing Ireland in the Nations Cup in Rome in a few weeks’ time.

“It’s a great facility and they do a great job here, so we are happy to be back,” he concluded. “They have good footing, good atmosphere and always have nice courses. Anderson did a good job with the course, so I just thought it’d be a good getting going. He hadn’t jumped since WEF 12, and I think it was a nice course.”

Fellow Corkman, Conor O’Regan rode a double clear on Manchester to take fifth place, while Andrew Bourns on board Menko vd Wellington incurred four faults in the jump-off to finish ninth.


Wednesday, May 8th, saw Irish riders placed in the $31,500 CSI3* 1.45m Welcome class, with Richie Moloney on Rocksy Music in the runner-up spot and Sweetnam in fourth with Irandole Du Flot and in ninth with James Kann Cruz. Meanwhile, O’Regan on Carmen De Bonnieres placed seventh in the day’s 1.35m class, followed by Bourns on Q in ninth and Moloney on KS Rubellite were 10th in the 1.40m class.

Kevin Gallagher was runner-up with MHS Cardenta in Thursday’s 1.35m class, while Bourns rode Q into seventh place in the 1.40m class, followed by Gallagher on Casello in 10th. The $62,500 CSI3* 1.50m class saw Sweetnam finish 10th on RR Combella.

Friday’s 1.35m class saw Moloney finish seventh with Skelwith Diamond Lady. O’Regan was runner-up in the day’s 1.45m class riding the 11-year-old Big Boy Z, with Bourns on Tranquility Bay in 10th. Saturday’s 1.45m class saw O’Regan finish seventh with Carmen De Bonnieres.

The Irish were on form in Sunday’s €35,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix, taking second and third places on the podium, behind winner Quentin Judge (USA) and HH Griffin Van De Heffinck, as well as fourth place. Lorcan Gallagher from Newry was runner-up on Hunters Conlypso II and fourth on Copycat, O’Regan, who is originally from Cork, split these two, placing third with Big Boy Z.

FEI show jumping continues next week with the Kentucky Spring Classic.