Wellington, Fla. – March 2, 2017 – Week Eight of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) continued Thursday with round eight of the $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup. The Ken Krome-designed course stood at a solid 1.50m with various combinations and bending lines that challenged some of the world’s top riders.
Round eight of the WEF Challenge Cup was a single-round competition with no jump-off. The course welcomed 59 competitors, but only 10 horse-and-rider combinations finished with no faults. At the end of the day, it as Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam and Cobolt who took home the top prize.
“Cobolt came back out this week and went great,” Sweetnam said. “He is jumping well and this class is never easy, so it’s great to win it. He is improving and getting better. It takes a while to develop a newer horse and to really learn their buttons. It took me about six months to really click with him. Ever since this summer our partnership has really solidified.”
Todd Minikus and Valinski S, a 15-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Wyndmont, were the 14th pair to complete the course, setting the pace for the remaining competitors and tripping the timers in 69.91 seconds. While most were unable to rise to the challenge with a faultless round under 71 seconds, Sweetnam and Cobolt did.
Sweetnam and the 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding conquered the speed set by Minikus and Valinski S in a time of 69.13 seconds. With only a fraction of a second separating the two, Sweetnam and Minikus secured their places atop the leaderboard with their closest competitor trailing by nearly two seconds.
“I didn’t watch Todd, but I obviously know he is a very quick rider,” Sweetnam remarked. “I feel like the difference could have been from my decision to leave out a stride in the last line.”
Sweetnam has been riding Cobolt, owned by Blue Buckle Group, for nearly 12 months and has been in the stirrups of his sire Cyklon for the past five years.
“Cobolt is similar to Cyklon — they look similar and have the same sort of attitude,” said Sweetnam. “They both like to go fast, and they each have won a lot in the past year. I have a very special place in my heart for Cyklon. It is hard to compare them in regards to their achievements alone.”
Rounding out the top three in the eighth round of the $35,000 WEF Challenge Cup was Jeroen Dubbeldam and SFN Zenith, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding owned by the Dutch syndicate Springpaarden Fonds Netherlands, in a time of 71.43 seconds.
$35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round Eight
Place / Rider / Horse / R1 Faults / JO Faults | Time
1. Shane Sweetnam / Cobolt / 0 / 0 | 69.13
2. Todd Minikus / Valinski S / 0 / 0 | 69.91
3. Jeroen Dubbledam / SFN Zenith / 0 / 0 | 71.43
4. Laura Chapot / ISHD Dual Star / 0 / 0 | 71.87
5. Daniel Bluman / Ladriano Z / 0 / 0 | 72.01
6. Ben Maher / It’s Real Love VD Sims Z / 0 / 0 | 72.08
7. Kristen Vanderveen / Bull Runs Testify / 0 / 0 | 72.26
8. Samuel Parot / Dazzle White / 0 / 0 | 72.7