Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam and Darragh Kenny finished second and third respectively in the five-star Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of London at the Royal Hospital Chelsea this evening.
The two Irish riders were among 12 combination that went through to the jump-off in the €300,000 class.
Sweetnam, early to go in the jump-off on Alejandro, set the pace with a fast clear round in 37.44 seconds. The Corkman’s time forced others to make mistakes as they chased a faster clear round.
One after another they fell by the wayside, until eventual winner, Britain’s Ben Maher and Explosion W, bettered the Irishman’s time when stopping the timers at 35.98 seconds.
The runner-up finish from Sweetnam was all the more impressive as he only got the 10-year-old grey Alejandro in January, with the US-based rider admitting:
“He’s been amazing. I’m lucky because I found him in January. He’d never jumped an international Grand Prix. He’s naturally very quick.”
Shane Sweetnam and Alejandro in full flight in tonight’s Grand Prix of London. Credit: Breandán Ó hUallacháin.
Offaly rider Darragh Kenny, who earlier in the day qualified for the Grand Prix when riding Balou du Reventon, chose Classic Dream instead for the main class of the three-day show in Chelsea.
The 9-year-old chestnut gelding took Kenny to a clear round in 37.62 seconds on the Alan Wade-designed course, a time which was good enough for third place on the podium.
Kenny later explained his decision to choose Classic Dream over Balou du Reventon, stating:
“Balou jumped super and he felt in very good form. I wanted to save him a little bit.”
Darragh Kenny and Classic Dream were last to go in the jump-off for the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of London. Credit: Breandán Ó hUallacháin.
Tonight’s result means Shane Sweetnam now joins the already-qualified Kenny at the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix in Prague in November, with the Cork rider saying:
“I am delighted (to qualify for the Finals). I had that in the back of my head. I only had New York left. To succeed in it, I’m very happy.”
In the first round of the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of London, Mark McAuley and Valentino Tuiliere had four faults in 69.90 seconds. Denis Lynch and GK Chopin’s Bushi had 13 faults in a time of 72.44 seconds, while Bertram Allen retired GK Casper following some early errors in their round.