Shane Sweetnam and Cobolt came out on top in Thursday’s $35,000 Ruby et Violette Challenge as the action continued on Week 8 of the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida.

American Todd Minukus and Valinski S had the upper hand from early on in the 60-rider contest, but, coming in midway through the event,  Sweetnam managed to coast home almost a second quicker to snatch a lead he was not to relinquish.

Belgian Olympic medalist Jeroen Dubbleldam and SFN Zenith came close to threatening the Irish rider with a late clear, though it was only good enough for third place, with Minikus holding onto second.

Speedy efforts by American Leslie Howard (Donna Speciale) and Great Britain’s Amanda Derbyshire (Sibell BH) came at the expense of four faults.

“I was thinking we would get caught,” said Sweetnam. “Normally the second half, towards the end of the class, can get really hot. Leslie was pretty quick at the end there, but luckily she knocked a fence.”

As it turned out Howard’s time would have only been good enough to overhaul Ward for second spot had she stayed clear.

In the $25,000 Nutrena Jumper Classic, Ireland’s Darragh Kenny claimed second with Bolero behind USA’s McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z. Spaniard Sergio Alvarez Moya took third on G&C Durania K, while Kevin Babington of Ireland placed fourth on Mark Q.

Mike Dunne