Shane Sweetnam Certainly Kann Cruz in Callidae CSI5* 1.50m
Major League Show Jumping CSI5* action came to a head in Traverse City Friday afternoon as riders competed to qualify for the prestigious American Gold Cup CSI5* Grand Prix, set for Sunday afternoon. The jump-off for the $73,800 Callidae CSI5* 1.50m offered a list of who’s who in international show jumping, and the pace just kept getting quicker. Over Alan Wade’s (IRL) track, 10 pairs advanced to the jump-off.
James Kann Cruz, owned by Gizmo Partners LLC, made the trip from Europe especially for the American Gold Cup, and the trip across the pond was well worth it. Jumping a clutch clear round near the end of the first order, Shane Sweetnam (IRL) had the advantage of knowing what needed to be done and exactly how he could improve an already blazing fast time in the jump-off.
“He was great,” Sweetnam said of James Kann Cruz. “I saw McLain [Ward] go right before me and he has a big-strided horse, so I knew what I had to do number-wise. He just got back from Europe and I haven’t really gone that fast with him since I’ve had him. Now the target is to try to go a bit faster and try to win some classes. It was great that it paid off today.”
Ashlee Bond (ISR) was the first to break the 38-second mark in the jump-off with Karoline of Ballmore, owned by Gladewinds Partners, LLC. Her Israeli teammate Daniel Bluman, hot off recent CSI5* wins with Gemma W, owned by Blue Star Investments, came in and set the bar a notch higher, scoring a time of 37.28 seconds. But the class wasn’t over.
McLain Ward (USA), aboard a newer mount, Ilias, owned by Beechwood Stables LLC, used the stallion’s massive stride to shave even more valuable seconds off the winning time, clocking in at 36.72 seconds. Sweetnam had the last word, however, and with the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Kannan x Cruising) he secured the winning time of 36.62 seconds and topped the podium.
“I bought him this time last year,” Sweetnam continued about his winning mount. “During this show last year I flew over to try him. Since he came over we’ve been learning each other. We had a great [circuit in] Florida, and he was on the winning [Nations Cup] team in Vancouver and Dublin. He’s been very consistent for me since I got him.”
Sweetnam knew the horse would be a top contender, but at only nine years old James Kann Cruz has already delivered at the highest level and still has years ahead of him. Getting to know the horse was an adjustment but went smoothly considering the pair is only one year into their partnership. “He’s very sharp and has a lot of blood,” Sweetnam remarked. “He’s a very smart horse so he was a bit of a handful to get the feel of, but the jump felt amazing. He’s like dynamite, any light touch he reacts to. I have to be patient and ride quite light.”
CSI5* athletes now aim to etch their names onto the American Gold Cup, preparing for Sunday’s $405,300 CSI5* American Gold Cup Grand Prix as well as the $37,000 Premier Equestrian CSI5* Winning Round just prior.