/ Equestrian

Sweetnam takes glory at Wellington

Updated: Wednesday, 28 Mar 2012 09:50

Shane Sweetnam
Shane Sweetnam

Cork’s Shane Sweetnam kicked off the St Patrick's Day weekend with a win for Ireland in the tenth round of showjumping's Winter Equestrian Festival Challenge Cup at Wellington, Florida, tonight, beating a star-studded international field.

Riding the bay stallion Amaretto Darco, the 31-year-old was one of a dozen to make the cut for the jump-off, and outpaced Canadian runner-up Tiffany Foster and Victor by just under a second to chalk up his first ever WEF Challenge Cup victory.

He said afterwards: "I've been coming here for eight years now and that's the first time I've won a WEF Challenge Cup round.

“It's tough to win this class. The numbers are big. This is a quiet week and there were still a lot of horses.

“There are a lot of good combinations; all the big riders with multiple rides. I think it's very difficult. Luckily it wasn't so fast today for me, but it is still a very tough class."

US-based Sweetnam also took a second place in Thursday's opening class at Wellington's three-star show, riding the stallion Cyklon. The competition was won by Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa and HH Palouchin.

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Ireland's Natalya Coyle tonight finished eighth overall in the modern pentathlon, which takes her through to Saturday's Women's Final in the second round of the World Cup.

In Paris, meanwhile, action in the big five-star show at the Grand Palais sees Jessica Kurten and Billy Twomey fly the Irish flag when jumping begins on Friday, with Meath's Alexander Butler competing in the under-25 classes.

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