Irish riders win the $140,000 1.50m classic final – and the series – at the Winter Equestrian Festival

  • While last night’s victory in the $140,000 1.50m championship jumper classic final went to Ireland’s Paul O’Shea, his fellow countryman, Shane Sweetnam claimed the win for the 1.50m jumper classic series at the Winter Equestrian Festival.

    “This series produces an incredibly tough class every week, and the level of competition in these classes is set at a very high standard,” said Shane, who despite never claiming a win, had a steady Winter Equestrian Festival with six top-five placings – enough to give him the title.

    “You need to have a good string of horses,” he said “This year I had an up-and-coming group of horses as well as some older ones, and it worked out well. While I did not win any, I was consistent at being towards the top of the class each week and that consistency is what ended up winning it overall.”

    With 48 starters, Olaf Petersen Jr’s course design whittled the field down to five for the jump-off as Paul and Chancelleros took on USA’s Spencer Smith, Laura Kraut, and Alex Matz, as well as compatriot Mark McAuley who claimed second.

    “I knew Alex would be fast,” said Paul. “And that Laura was after me too. I didn’t get to see Mark go but he is always fast, so I just tried to do the best round that I could.”

    Mark was first to go clear in 36.97 seconds aboard LT Competition’s 10-year-old CH mare O’Hara ELS. “There were a few elements of the jump-off that were quite difficult,” Mark said. “So I just decided I would try to jump the jumps instead of worrying about being fast.”

    Sure enough, Paul was hot on his heels and skimmed over a second off the clock to jump round in 35.51. “Chancelloress felt in top form tonight, and everything was coming up easily,” Paul said. “She is going to do the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix next week, and I kept that in mind when I was riding tonight so I wouldn’t overdo it.”

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