‘He got himself out of trouble’: even a mistimed buck can’t stop this speedy winning duo

  • Saturday night’s speed class at the CHI Geneva was action-packed, with Conor Swail’s Vital Chance De La Roque losing his bridle and running free. Even the brilliant winning performance from Conor’s team-mate Shane Sweetnam wasn’t without incident.

    Shane and his outstanding partner, the 13-year-old grey gelding Alejandro, rocketed out of the starting blocks to clear the first three fences, but almost came unstuck at fence four – a lofty oxer off an acute turn-back from an airy vertical.

    “When I was rolling back, he wasn’t really looking and he gave a little buck and that put us in trouble,” Shane told H&H.

    The gelding managed to paddle his way over the huge oxer – without touching a single pole in the process.

    “He got himself out of trouble! After that, he got it back together and really finished strong,” said Shane.

    The pair powered round the snaking track, which featured three sets of doubles, in the show’s vast indoor arena and Shane punched the air in delight on seeing he’d soared into the lead in a time of 63.13sec, beating long-time leader Henrik von Eckermann on Glamour Girl by just 0.17sec.

    Shane Sweetnam: ‘It’s on the bucket list’

    “It’s on the bucket list to win a five-star class in Geneva,” said Shane Sweetnam. “I’ve won in Aachen, La Baule, Dublin, a lot of places, but never here. This is only my second time in Geneva, but last time I was in this class I had the fastest time but with one fence down, so I didn’t have luck that day but I definitely had a bit of luck today.”

    Paying tribute to his Tokyo Olympic partner Alejandro, who has been a multi-winner for Shane over the years, he said: “He’s been brilliant and he’s had a fantastic year – he’s come back strong and nearly everywhere he’s gone he’s been in the money.

    “He’s finished now, so he’ll have a break till February in Florida – he’s deserved it,” said Shane.

    The highest placed British rider was Ben Maher, who finished eighth with a nippy round on Enjeu De Grisien.

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