Shane Sweetnam and Cyklon 1083. Photos © Sportfot.
University of South Carolina’s Katherine Schmidt Tops Collegiate Equitation Championship
Wellington, FL – February 7, 2014 – Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Spy Coast Farm LLC’s Cyklon 1083 earned their second FEI world ranking win of the 2014 season in Friday’s $34,000 G&C Farm 1.45m speed class during week five of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF). The pair beat out Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Prof de la Roque and Beezie Madden (USA) aboard Vanilla, who placed second and third respectively.
FTI WEF week five, sponsored by Rolex, runs February 5-9, 2014. The week will continue with the $370,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix CSI-W 5* presented by Rolex on Saturday night, and the $84,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic on Sunday afternoon. The FTI WEF, held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, features 12 weeks of world-class competition through March 30, awarding $8 million in prize money.
Great Britain’s Robert Ellis set the speed track for 70 entries in Friday’s $34,000 G&C Farm 1.45m with 20 clear rounds. Beezie Madden and Abigail Wexner’s Vanilla set the pace early on in 67.19 seconds to eventually finish third. Darragh Kenny and Postage Stamp Farm LLC’s Prof de la Roque improved on the time in 65.62 seconds to earn second place honors. They held the lead for 40 rounds before Shane Sweetnam and Cyklon 1083 cleared the course a full second faster in 64.62 seconds for the win.
Sweetnam and Cyklon, a 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood stallion by Cardento x Cortus, also won the $34,000 G&C Farm 1.45m at the beginning of week three during this year’s FTI WEF. The pair was extremely close to a victory earlier this week as well in Wednesday’s $34,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.45m, but finished a close second to McLain Ward and Wings. This time, Sweetnam noted that he had the advantage of a course that was very suited to Cyklon’s strengths of speed and tight turns.
“He has had a good week,” Sweetnam stated. “He was unlucky not to win the class on Wednesday, but McLain did a great job. There was one place that I thought I lost time, and McLain definitely took advantage of it. Today I watched a couple go. I didn’t get to see Darragh go, but it looked like a fast time, especially since I saw Tiffany (Foster) go and she was really moving. I had a plan, and he did a great job. We stuck to the plan, and we executed it as well as we could.”
“He is a very quick horse rolling back on the jumps,” Sweetnam explained. “Bob Ellis normally likes to have a lot of rollbacks, even in his grand prix courses, so it definitely played to my advantage with him. You can really turn back tight with Cyklon, and he always tries to leave the jumps up.”
Sweetnam spoke more about Cyklon, noting that the beautiful stallion is very well-behaved at home and at the horse show and has a fantastic drive to win when he gets in the show ring.
“For sure when he is in the ring he goes a little bit more,” Sweetnam detailed. “He still always has a little bit of go with the blood, and he is feisty, but he is quite easy. In the ring, when he sees a jump and he knows he is going fast, he really puts in the extra effort. You do have to fight with him a little bit to get what you want done, he is a little bit more aggressive in the ring, but he also gets the job done.”
Cyklon is done showing now for week five and will have some time off. Sweetnam has not yet decided what week Cyklon will show again, but explained that he tries to keep his top horses on a good rotation to keep them feeling fresh.
“He had the week off last week,” Sweetnam noted. “He had done two weeks in a row before that, so he needed a week off and Solerina went last week and she did great. I try to rotate them as much as I possibly can, those two, because they are both winners.”
In addition to the 1.45m class, competition kicked off in the International Arena on Friday morning with a win for Eugenio Garza (MEX) and Providence in the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge. A $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m jump-off class was also held later in the day with a win for Katie Prudent (USA) riding Michael Smith’s Onisha.
University of South Carolina’s Katherine Schmidt Tops Collegiate Equitation Championship
Twenty-one-year-old Katherine Schmidt, of Ridgefield, CT, emerged victorious from the Collegiate Equitation Championship on Friday evening at the FTI WEF. Schmidt is a junior at the University of South Carolina (USC), where she is a double major in Marketing and Management.
Schmidt made it through the first round of the evening’s competition after beating out Auburn University’s Christina Lin. Schmidt rode David Raposa’s Chanel to a 76 to advance to round two. Schmidt secured her trip to the final round with a score of 87 aboard Ashleigh Stewart’s Coco, jumping past Baylor University’s Samantha Schaefer.
For the final round, Schmidt was up against Oklahoma State University’s Samantha Elser, who ultimately finished second. Both ladies rode Emma Butchard’s Striptease, owned by Emma Butchard, for the final round of competition. Schmidt edged out the victory with a score of 83 to Elser’s 80.
Schaefer was also awarded with the Professionals for NCAA Equestrian High Score Award for her first round score of 90 with Ilan de Taute, owned by Alan Chesler.
The Collegiate Equitation Championship pits the nation’s best varsity level collegiate riders against each other in a head-to-head competition. Riders are organized into brackets, where each bracket must each complete a course on the same horse, which is unfamiliar to them. The rider with the highest score on that horse advances to the next round.
Schmidt, affectionately known as “Schmidty” to her teammates and coach, put in consistent rounds throughout the night before laying down an incredibly handy final course with Striptease.
“I saw Sam go and [Striptease] got a little quick, so I thought I could manage her here and there and try to slip inside [for a few of the turns]. I think I was able to get her back a little bit early and do the inside turns, which I think set me apart from Sam at the end of the day,” Schmidt commented.
Schmidt had total confidence in her final round mount, a 15-year-old Royal Dutch Warmblood mare, despite never getting on the horse before entering the International Arena Friday evening.
“Striptease knows her job. She was happy to be out there. It was nice to kind of relax a little bit and try to show off,” Schmidt explained. “She’s been around the block I think. She was a little bit downhill, so I had to pick her up a little bit, but she was very sweet and would jump from anywhere.”
Schmidt was born into a family of horse lovers; her mother had horses all her life and Schmidt described being born with ponies in her backyard. By the time she was a toddler, she was already in the irons. After showing ponies throughout her childhood, Schmidt went on to the equitation and jumper divisions.
“I started doing jumpers with Darren Graziano. He gave me a lot of rides, and he taught me a lot. He introduced me to Andre Dignelli [of Heritage Farm], and I did my equitation years with him. I have a lot to owe to both Darren and Andre for getting me to where I am,” Schmidt expressed.
Schmidt’s coach, Carol Gwin felt Schmidt also owed a lot of her success to her relentless work ethic and well-grounded demeanor.
“Schmidty’s just a great person. She’s a really hard worker. She’s always the one that’s going to be practicing extra and trying to be better. She’s very modest. I think she rides beautifully, and I can’t say enough nice things about her. She’s definitely someone that deserves this kind of win,” Gwin smiled.
A testament to Schmidt’s humble character is the fact she failed to mention she’s undefeated this season for the USC Gamecocks. Gwin revealed she’s yet to be beat, with her record currently standing at 8-0 before her victory in Wellington.
While Schmidt and her teammates will hit the road to take on the University of Georgia on Saturday, the Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) Children’s Medal will kick off hunter competition for the weekend at the FTI WEF. Jumper action continues tomorrow with the highlight of the week, the $370,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix CSI-W 5* presented by Rolex, at 7 p.m.
For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
About FTI Consulting, Inc.
FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 4,000 employees located in 24 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges in areas such as investigations, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues, reputation management, strategic communications and restructuring. The company generated $1.58 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2012. For more information, visit www.fticonsulting.com.
About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival
The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 8 through March 30. The FTI WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are “AA” rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $7 million in prize money will be awarded.
Please visit www.equestriansport.com or call 561-793-5867 for more information.
Lauren Fisher and Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations