Show Jumping

Shane Sweetnam and Palina De L’Escaut Win in Wellington, Confuse Around the World

©AnneGittinsPhotography

Which one is the horse? Who’s the rider?

Show jumping is confusing, let’s watch football.

World #20 ranked rider Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and horse-with-a-human-sounding-name Palina De L’Escaut captured their first FEI win, in their international debut together in Wellington, FL on Wednesday.

For the sake of the sport, let’s hope this trend doesn’t continue. Or that they spring for a name change. Because equestrian sport has enough marketing challenges without making it hard to tell the horses apart from the humans. (Just sayin’, no one ever confused Justify or American Pharoah with their jockeys.)

The promising pair produced a speedy double clear in the $35,000 Dover Saddlery Holiday & Horses Opener CSI 4* at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC).

Of the 45 entries to contest the Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) designed power and speed course, none could capture Sweetnam and Palina’s time of 30.499 seconds.

The Irishman credits the nine-year-old Hanoverian mare’s “nifty” turning agility with the win.

“The second half in the speed part, there was an option with a turn that obviously not everybody did and that made a big difference for the win,” said the 37-year old. “I think naturally she covers the ground and is quite a quick horse, but I do think she saved two seconds when she turned the way she did, because she literally came off the jump before, turned and looked, and we went straight for it. She zoned in on it perfectly.”

Palina De L’Escaut, owned by Sweetnam, Paul Tracy, and Spy Coast Farm, LLC (you hear how human-trafficky that sounds, right?), is a new mount for the 2017 European Championship team gold medalist.

“I’ve had her since the end of the summer and she’s a bit green still,” continued the Irish rider.

“She gives a great feel and she’s very sensitive, but at that stage she was still quite raw and she still has little things to learn, but she’s a very quick learner and she’s picking up everything very fast.”

Watch for Sweetnam and his new international mount to tackle a 1.45m class later this week in the (Working) Holiday & Horses CSI4*.

“This week, since I’m still getting to know her, she’ll do the [$35,000 Dever Golf Cars 1.45m Classic] class Friday and hopefully she can do a lot more in Florida this year. I definitely think she’ll do a couple Grand Prix classes, but I’m not sure yet [what she’ll do this winter]. When the timing is right, I’m sure she’ll let me know if she’s ready or not,” Sweetnam concluded.

Fingers crossed, they shorten her name to Palina first.

Samuel Parot (CHI) and the 14-year-old Swedish Warmblood stallion Thriller P took second with a double clear in 30.59 seconds. Daniel Bluman (ISR) and the 11-year-old stallion Cartouche rounded out the podium in 31.327 seconds.