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.

Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and James Kann Cruz. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

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.”

McLain Ward (USA) and Ilias. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

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.

Daniel Bluman (ISR) and Gemma W. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“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.

Final Results: $73,800 Callidae CSI5* 1.50m

1. JAMES KANN CRUZ: 2013 ISH gelding by Kannan x Cruising
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Gizmo Partners LLC: 0/0/36.62

2. ILIAS: 2008 BWP stallion by Emerald x Ludwig von Bayern
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Beechwood Stables, LLC: 0/0/36.72

3. GEMMA W: 2011 KWPN mare by Luidam x Unaniem
DANIEL BLUMAN (ISR), Blue Star Investments: 0/0/37.28

4. KAROLINE OF BALLMORE: 2010 BWP mare by Diarado x Convento van de Helle
ASHLEE BOND (ISR), Gladewinds Partners, LLC: 0/0/37.49

5. DEZ OOKTOFF: 2008 KWPN stallion by Colandro x Lys Rouge
ROBERTO TERAN TAFUR (COL), Roberto Teran Tafur: 0/0/39.15

6. VITAL CHANCE DE LA ROQUE: 2009 SF gelding by Diamant de Semilly x Rivage du Poncel
CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Conor Swail: 0/0/39.99

7. CHRYSTAL BLUE: 2011 OLDBG gelding by Chacco Blue x Calvaro Z
SAMUEL PAROT (CHI), Ilan Ferder: 0/0/40.94

8. GARANT: 2011 KWPN gelding by Warrant x Verdi TN
CALLIE SCHOTT (USA), Southern Arches LLC: 0/0/41.81

9. CHARTRAINE PRE NOIR: 2012 SF mare by Kannan
BEAT MANDLI (SUI), Grant Road Partners LLC: 0/8/46.00

10. ORAFINA: 2012 KWPN mare by For Fashion x Canturo
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Kent Farrington LLC: 0/WD

11. IDOL H&H: 2013 KWPN gelding by Action-Breaker x Glennridge
ANDREW WELLES (USA), Evergreen Stables, LLC: 1/79.12

12. ENANDA: 2009 KWPN mare by Nabab de Reve x Holland


Samantha Schaefer and In The Know. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Samantha Schaefer Steals the Spotlight in $50,000 Performance Horse Final

Securing big wins in hunter championships was not initially on In The Know’s agenda when he came into Samantha Schaefer’s barn. Six years ago he was purchased to do the equitation, but he has stepped into the hunter ring in dramatic fashion since then, taking the win in Friday’s $50,000 Performance Horse Final during the second-annual running of the Traverse City Hunter & Derby Finals.

“‘Spyder’ was actually purchased to be my sister’s equitation horse,” Schaefer said of Madeline Schaefer’s 13-year-old Warmblood gelding by Arkansas. “He actually did that job for about a year and a half and along the way we started to work in some international hunter derbies and high performance. He did it all really well. She bonded with another horse in the barn and Spyder became my derby and high-performance horse. I’ve been able to create a great partnership with him and he loves his job.”

Samantha Schaefer and In The Know. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Leading through the entire Final, held at 3’3”, 3’6”, 3’9”, and 4’ fence heights, Schaefer and her reliable partner recorded a high score of 91 in the first round, then returned and replicated that score for an overall 182 and the win.

“He’s truly a show horse and I’ve said that since he was seven years old,” Shaefer continued. “He really gets it. He wants to win. I think he gets better when it’s more important or I add a little extra pressure. He thrives on that. We have mutual respect for each other. He’s a special horse all around. He’s great and he knows it. He’s the cocky quarterback, and we go with it.

Nick Haness and Reese’s. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“He just has this softness,” Schaefer continued about how In The Know truly stood out among top hunter competitors Friday afternoon. “Everything looks the same when he goes around. Our partnership plays into that because I trust him completely. Overall the fluidity and smoothness of the rounds helped us win.”

Like many hunter riders, Schaefer and her team have spent a bit of time in Traverse City and were overjoyed to come back and compete in the Traverse City Hunter & Derby Finals. “I love Traverse City,” she concluded. “It’s one of my favorite shows of the year. We came back with 13 horses. We have the incentive to jump the Hunter Finals but we also love the show. We focused on the ones that could really be competitive in the Junior and Amateur Finals as well as the Performance and Open Derby.”

Jacob Pope and Unbelievable. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Nick Haness claimed second place aboard Reese’s, owned by West Coast Equine Partners LLC on a two-round total of 179, while Jacob Pope captured third with Forget Me Not Farm’s Unbelievable with a 178.25 total score.

Greg Crolick and Nick Haness Top Green Hunter Finals

Greg Crolick and Chappy. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Greg Crolick continued his winning ways in Traverse City, earning a victory aboard Chappy, owned by Carole Chase, in the $25,000 3’6”/3’9” Green Hunter Final. The pair held the lead throughout the entirety of the class, earning a high score in round one of 89 and following it up with a 92 in round two to seal the deal. His score of 181 earned him the win and the lion’s share of the prize money.

Nick Haness found himself another podium placing, taking second with Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Love on a 178 total score. Hillary Johnson and Elliot, owned by Copper Fox LLC, claimed third with a 171 score.

Greg Crolick and Chappy. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“We’ve had Chappy for two years,” Crolick said of the 11-year-old Mecklenburg gelding by Chacco Blue. “He mainly does the International Derbies and 3’9” and 4’ divisions. He’s a real special horse. He’s quiet, and he’s out of the stall to the ring; just really easy to prepare and pretty much anyone can ride him.”

Fresh off a successful run at the USHJA International Derby Championships in August, Crolick returned to Traverse City with his sights set on the Traverse City Hunter & Derby Finals.

Nick Haness and Small Love. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“The hunter incentives here are wonderful,” Crolick echoed. “It gives hunters a chance to showcase their abilities. There’s more hunters participating this year which is wonderful. To have a chance to go for this kind of prize money in a weekend is unheard of. It’s a great opportunity.”

Hillary Johnson and Elliot. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Nick Haness started the day off strong, taking three of the top-four placings in the $25,000 3’/3’3” Green Hunter Final, winning aboard Bernadette Mulliken’s Mardi Gras. With the 7-year-old Warmblood gelding by Namelus R, Haness secured the high score of 91 in round one of the two-round final, returning and securing victory with a round-two score of 89 for a combined total of 180.

Nick Haness and Mardi Gras. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Second-place honors went to Ilana Mark-Fisher’s Diaro and Kelsey Epperson on a total score of 175, while third place went to Haness and Remember Romance for Romance Sport Horses on a total score of 172.5. Haness also claimed fourth with Marilyn for West Coast Equine Partners LLC, starting the Traverse City Hunter & Derby Finals with a bang.

Nick Haness and Mardi Gras. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“This horse, Mardi Gras, we purchased earlier this year so it’s a newer partnership for me,” Haness, based in Temecula, CA, explained. “We’ve been showing together over the last few months on the East Coast. We had high hopes for a good result here today.”

Kelsey Epperson and Diaro. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Haness has spent some time in Traverse City gearing up for his second Traverse City Hunter & Derby Finals with a group of highly competitive horses. “We appreciate and love these finals,” he said. “It’s a great way to involve our horses and owners. It’s a great program. The prize money is awesome for this championship week. We’re excited to be a part of it. We brought quite a few horses and I’m excited for the rest of the weekend to unfold. Winning the first final of the weekend feels great.”

Nick Haness and Remember Romance. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

The Traverse City Hunter & Derby Finals continue Saturday with the 3’3” and 3’6” sections of the Amateur-Owner and Junior Hunter Finals, each offering $25,000 in prize money, before Sunday’s $25,000 Non-Pro Traverse City Derby Final, presented by Makoto Farm, and the big finale $100,000 Pro Traverse City Derby Final.

Final Results: $50,000 Performance Horse Final

1. In The Know / Samantha Schaefer / Madeline Schaefer / 91 + 91 = 182
2. Reese’s / Nick Haness / West Coast Equine Partners LLC / 90 + 89 = 179
3. Unbelievable / Jacob Pope / Forget Me Not Farm / 88.25 + 90 = 178.25
4. Counselor / Jacob Pope / Judgment Farms LLC / 88 + 87.5 = 175.5
5. San Pedro 15 / Jacob Pope / Donald Stewart / 88.5 + 86.5 = 175
6. G. Eleven / Jacob Pope / Donald Stewart / 86.5 + 88= 174.5
7. Testify / Greg Crolick / Jon Cotton / 88.75 + 85 = 173.75
8. Philadelphia Story / Samantha Schaefer / The Lignelli Family / 87.5 + 83 = 170.5
9. Catwalk / Greg Crolick / Renaud Farm LLC / 86.25 + 84 = 170.25
10. Virgo DC / Nick Haness / Evergreen Stables LLC / 89 + 80 = 169
11. Sweet Romance / Nick Haness / Romance Sport Horses / 86 + 82.5 = 168.5
12. Skyhawk / Stella Wasserman / Laura Wasserman / 87 + 78 = 165

Final Results: $25,000 3’6”/3’9” Green Hunter Final

1. Chappy / Greg Crolick / Carole Chase / 89 + 92 = 181
2. Small Love / Nick Haness / Iwasaki & Reilly / 88 + 90 = 178
3. Elliot / Hillary Johnson / Copper Fox LLC / 86 + 85 = 171
4. Catwalk / Greg Crolick / Renaud Farm LLC / 81 + 87 = 168
5. San Pedro 15 / Jacob Pope / Don Stewart / 83 + 84 = 167
6. Disco Superfly / Stella Wasserman / Donald Stewart / 77 + 80 = 157
7. Breathless / Owen Gajoch / Sara Barnes / 75 + 75 = 150
8. Suede / Hillary Johnson / Copper Fox LLC / 45 + 83 = 128
9. Vincent / Jacob Pope / Natalie Groulx / 82 + 45 = 127

Final Results: $25,000 3’/3’3” Green Hunter Final

1. Mardi Gras / Nick Haness / Bernadette Mulliken / 91+ 89 = 180
2. Diaro / Kelsey Epperson / Ilana Mark-Fisher / 89 + 86 =175
3. Remember Romance / Nick Haness / Romance Sport Horses / 84.5 + 88 = 172.5
4. Marilyn / Nick Haness / West Coast Equine Partners LLC / 84 + 87 = 171
5. Serengeti / Tamara Provost / Moyer Farm LLC / 83 + 87.5 = 170.5
6. Red Label / Tamara Provost / Dean Burger / 85 + 84.5 = 169.5
7. Clooney / Greg Crolick / Nicole Jeffries / 82 + 85 = 167
8. True That / Megan Ghere / Donald Stewart / 81 + 83 = 164
9. Chewbacca / Jacob Pope / Elizabeth Devor / 87 + 74 = 161
10. Debonair / Kelsey Epperson / Debra Gross / 86 + 72 = 158
11. Breadwinner / Megan Southam / Kate Kosnoff / 78 + 75 = 153
12. Famous Last Words / Alex Granato / Jennifer Levi / 72 + 80 = 152

Alex Granato (USA) and Carlchen W. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Alex Granato Makes a Splash in Lakemore Resort CSI5* Speed Stake

Alex Granato (USA) and his seasoned partner Carlchen W are back on top in CSI5* action, winning the 1.45m Lakemore Resort Speed Stake CSI5* Friday during the Tournament of Champions. With his partner from the 2019 Pan American Games, Granato took an efficient path around Alan Wade’s (IRL) track and bested the elite field.

“Today with Carlchen my main goal was a nice smooth round,” Granato said. “He’s such a naturally fast horse that today worked out in my favor. I’m aiming him for the [American] Gold Cup Grand Prix Sunday. He’s had a bit of a break this season, so I’ve been building my summer and fall towards this week.”

Alex Granato (USA) and Carlchen W. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

With Carlchen W taking a break from top competition, Granato has taken to dressage lessons at home to focus on flatwork to keep his horses fit without overjumping them.

Alberto Michan (ISR) and Firewall. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“I see it paying off for all my horses, but it’s really been fundamental for Carlchen,” Granato remarked on his dressage practice. “Knowing him so well is a great thing in a lot of ways but it can also be a handicap because little things can slip. Focusing less on jump training and more on his flatwork has been instrumental in bringing him back to top fitness this season.”

Winner of his first CSI5* Grand Prix just last year in Traverse City, Granato is feeling good about his chances this week in the American Gold Cup. “This has been a special show for me, so I’m glad to be back,” he said. “I feel really good. Since I haven’t been competing Carlchen at the top level all season my main focus will be a consistent round. He’s such a speedy horse so we have that luck on our side. If we have a good day he could be naturally quick in the jump-off, but my main focus is hopefully a double-clear round and let his speed carry.”

Alberto Michan (ISR) and Bugatti. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Final Results: 1.45m Lakemore Resort CSI5* Speed Stake

1. CARLCHEN W: 2008 MECKL gelding by Chacco Blue x Continue
ALEX GRANATO (USA), The Bright Lights Group: 64.65

2. FIREWALL: 2010 KWPN gelding by Lexicon x Padinus
ALBERTO MICHAN (ISR), Eduardo Leon: 66.14

3. BUGATTI: 2006 KWPN gelding by Heartbreaker x Pilot
ALBERTO MICHAN (ISR), Eduardo Leon: 0/66.59

4. HUMMER Z: 2014 KWPN gelding by Harley x Hemmingway
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/69.81

5. GREYA: 2014 OS mare by Colestus x Contender
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Kent Farrington LLC: 0/72.43

6. FUNK YEAH: 2014 HANN gelding by Messenger x Centadel
JACQUELINE STEFFENS (CAN), Team Eye Candy: 0/73.28

7. KOBLENZ VAN DE VINUSAKKER: 2010 BWP gelding by Toulon x Leader M
SAMUEL PAROT (CHI), Samuel Parot: 4/69.24

8. ORWELL SCF: 2014 BWP gelding by Diktator van de Boslandhoeve x Heartbreaker
TANNER KOROTKIN (USA), Sandalwood Farms: 4/73.27

9. ELIANTE Z: 2013 ZANG mare by Ermindo W x Namelus R
TOMAS YOFRE (ARG), Stellium Sport Horses LLC: 4/74.61

10. KASSIODAM: 2012 AES mare by Luidam x Kolibri
TJ O’MARA (USA), Caroline Blake: 7/78.25

11. LOPEZ T: 2013 OS mare by Lord Pezi Junior x Lordanos
HUNTER HOLLOWAY (USA), H.J.S. Trading: 8/79.63

12. CACHEMIRE DE BRAIZE: 2012 SF gelding by Quality Touch Z x Jaguar Mail
DANIEL BLUMAN (ISR), Over The Top Stables LLC: 11/78.38

McLain Ward (USA) and Catoki. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

McLain Ward Records a Win During American Gold Cup Week

McLain Ward (USA) has not been in Traverse City for long, but he’s already off to a winning start, hoping his luck sticks around for Sunday’s American Gold Cup. Kicking off CSI2* action Friday morning, Ward took top honors in the $37,000 1.45m CSI2* Speed aboard Marilla Van Buren’s speed demon Catoki.

Late to go in the order of 56 entries, Ward piloted the freaky fast 13-year-old Westphalian gelding (Catoki x Caretello B) to a time of 57.75 seconds, too quick to be caught and nearly two seconds faster than any other competitor.

McLain Ward (USA) and Catoki. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Karl Cook (USA) and E’Special P.S., owned by Signe Otsby, claimed second place honors in 59.56 seconds, while Roberto Teran (COL) took third aboard BP Wakita for Trefoil Farm LLC in 59.76 seconds.

Caktoki and Ward are no strangers to the winner’s circle in speed classes. “He’s a super careful, unbelievable, and fast horse,” Ward said of Catoki. “That’s his job: to cover these shows and try to win these second classes. I always say he pays the entries and the bills for the rest. He’s a blast. He’s always in for a shot and he really does his job well.”

Karl Cook (USA) and E’Special P.S. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Back in Traverse City for a chance at his first American Gold Cup victory, Ward brought a different string of horses along. “Callas and Ilias have been with the Revers family and Max Amaya for a number of years and I’ve known them well through that connection,” he said of his history with his current string. “Their previous rider, Annable Revers, is now focused on school so I had the opportunity to show them a little and it’s very exciting.”

Roberto Teran (COL) and BP Wakita. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Prior to one appearance at the Hampton Classic and his win on Friday in Traverse City, Catoki took a lengthy break over the summer to relax and get some sunshine. “He lives in the field at home,” Ward said of Catoki’s leisurely home life.

CSI2* athletes now focus on Saturday’s $37,000 Cabana Coast CSI2* Grand Prix.

Final Results: $37,000 1.45m CSI2* Speed

1. CATOKI: 2009 WESTF gelding by Catoki x Caretello B
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Marilla Van Buren: 0/57.75

2. E’SPECIAL P.S.: 2009 KWPN mare by Berlin x Caruso
KARL COOK (USA), Signe Otsby: 0/59.56

3. BP WAKITA: 2013 ISH mare by Pacino x Cruising
ROBERTO TERAN (COL), Trefoil Farm LLC: 0/59.76

4. SEXY BEAST: 2013 OS mare by Cabachon x Stakkato
PAUL O’SHEA (IRL), Eye Candy Jumpers: 0/60.84

5. FRASIER: 2010 KWPN gelding by Carambole x Padinus

6. FASOLE DU SEIGNEUR: 2011 SBS mare by Doremi x Ogano Sitte
CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Hot Horses LLC: 0/61.19

7. IRANDOLE DU FLOT: 2014 SBS mare by Vivaldi du Seigneur x Ogano Sitte
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Sweet Oak Farm: 0/62.14

8. HIGHWAY FBH: 2010 KWPN gelding by Plot Blue x Cornet Obolensky
JACOB POPE (USA), Team Rakowsky Equestrian LLC: 0/63.18

9. STENA: 2013 HOLST mare by Stakkato x Caretino 2
CHARLISE CASAS (USA), Always Faithful Equine LLC: 0/63.29

10. IDEAL: 2012 SWB gelding by Cardento x Cortez
TANNER KOROTKIN (USA), Castlewood Farm Inc. & Sandalwood Farms: 0/63.83

11. ONERMIE VAN HET WEYENSHOF: 2014 BWP mare by Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Nabab de Reve
GIAVANNA RINALDI (USA), ANdrew Welles LLC: 0/64.17

12. FAIR FIELD: 2010 KWPN gelding by VDL Zirocco Blue x Chin Chin
CALLIE SCHOTT (USA), Southern Arches LLC: 0/64.73