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‘When I tried him, I didn’t want him’: unlikely stallion purchase comes good for Lillie Keenan at WEF

Lillie Keenan (USA) won the $37,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 1 CSI3* at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) during Week 1 at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) with a stallion she has had since he was six years old.

But their journey to Thursday’s win (January 14) has been anything but ordinary. If it weren’t for her mom, Pam Keenan, the successful pair would likely have never ended up together.

Speaking about the 10-year-old Agana Van Het Gerendal Z, with whom she bested a field of 73 combinations, Keenan said: “Honestly, when I tried him, I didn’t want him.

“I knew that he was very talented. He has been winning since he was four years old with his previous riders, always a winner, but I felt that I didn’t necessarily suit him very well. My mom was the one that picked him and was like, ‘You are learning to ride this horse, and we are buying him.’

“My mom rides him every single day for me,” explained Keenan. “She was a very successful junior [rider], and then stopped riding for a long time. She’s actually a really tiny lady and awesome rider, and he’s the one horse in the barn I can always trust to put her on even if he’s had some easy days. She does an unbelievable job keeping him happy and keeping him fit, so my job in the ring is really easy.”

There was fierce competition on display for the class and the scope of international attendance was well represented in the jump-off with riders from seven different nations contesting the shortened course set by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) and Andy Christiansen Jr. (ECU).

Last to go, Keenan piloted the 10-year-old Zangersheide stallion owned by Chansonette Farm, LLC around the track flawlessly for a double clear effort in a time of 39.95 seconds.

“I had a different plan if no one had been clear,” she said. “I knew I could do six down to the combination where a lot of people opted to do seven. In the first round I did seven; my horse is ridiculously talented so really my job is to stay out of his way. So, in that kind of situation with the speed I would be going in a jump-off, the six was simpler, because I was going to do less. Obviously, Shane [Sweetnam] was not only fast but also clear, so what changed was that I not only had to go fast, I had to try to be faster than him and clear.”

Returning to the International Arena for the second round, Sweetnam (IRL), aboard Indra Van De Oude Heihoef for The Blue Buckle Group, was the first to execute the jump-off without fault, finishing the day in second place with a time of 40.51 seconds. Cassio Rivetti (BRA) guided Genesis for Neil Jones Equestrian Inc to a third-place finish in the class with a clear effort in 43.15 seconds.

A native of New York City, NY, Keenan has now relocated to Wellington, FL, full-time as she continues to pursue a career in show jumping. With a farm nearby, Keenan is right around the corner from WEF making it easier to execute her plans for the show season.

“I’m very fortunate to have a few different horses, not only my own but for some other people that have chosen to support me, and I’m really lucky with that opportunity that I can kind of diversify my string and try to spread my horses out,” she said. “Right now, it’s full steam ahead and we’re really glad to be back in Wellington.”

$37,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 1

1 AGANA VAN HET GERENDAL Z: 2011 Zangersheide stallion by Aganix Du Seigneur x Naminka

LILLIE KEENAN (USA), Chansonette Farm, LLC: 0/0/39.95

2 INDRA VAN DE OUDE HEIHOEF: 2008 Belgian Warmblood mare by Casantos x Action-Breaker

SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), The Blue Buckle Group: 0/0/40.51

3 GENESIS: 2011 KWPN gelding by El Dorado Vd Zeshoek x Buminka B

CASSIO RIVETTI (BRA), Neil Jones Equestrian Inc: 0/0/43.15

4 AMEX Z: 2009 Zangersheide Mare by Andiamo Z x Landaris

TODD MINIKUS (USA), Bit By Bit Group: 0/4/38.38

5 FINE LADY 5: 2003 Hannoverian mare by Forsyth x Drosselklang II

ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC and Torrey Pines: 0/4/38.69

6 QUIBELLE: 2009 Hannoverian mare by Frh Quaid x Sherry

SPENCER SMITH (USA), Gotham Enterprizes, LLC: 0/4/41.05

7 UNE DE L’OTHAIN: 2008 Selle Français by Conterno Grande x Cento

HARRIE SMOLDERS (NED), Evergate Stables, LLC: 0/4/42.02

8 CALLE 67: 2009 Westphalian gelding by Carell x Cleo N.w.

RODRIGO PESSOA (BRA), Artemis Equestrian Farm, LLC: 0/4/44.94

9 UPSILON DE LA LINIERE: 2008 Selle Français gelding by Tinka’s Boy x Querlybbet Hero

TAYLOR ST. JACQUES (USA), Taylor St. Jacques: 0/8/38.95

10 NORTHERN LIGHT: 2011 SWB mare by Plot Blue x Contender

TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms, LLC and Tiffany Foster: 0/8/41.90

11 F ONE USA: 2010 KWPN stallion by Toulon x Beat Me

EMILY MOFFIT (GBR), Poden Farms: 0/8/49.38

12 HOPE STREET: 2009 Holsteiner mare by Casall x Quick Nick I

LUCAS PORTER (USA), SPR Fund One: 0/10/55.36

Victoria Colvin and newcomer Acclaim earn the Tricolor ribbon in the Green Conformation Hunters

The Green Conformation Hunter division wrapped up on Thursday in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring with the crowning of the champion. Victoria Colvin rode Parker Peacock’s Acclaim to top honors in the division, with three firsts, a second, a third, and a fourth-place finish.

Colvin has only partnered with Acclaim for a month, which is also how long the gelding has been a hunter. This week marked Acclaim’s first time showing in a hunter division, which did not stop the pair from rising to the top of the class.

“He had been a jumper, so this was his first class as a hunter and he was pretty spectacular,” Colvin said of the nine-year-old Oldenburg by Heartbreaker. “He is super, super easy and has a great personality.”

Loxahatchee, FL, resident Colvin piloted Acclaim to win three of the four over-fences classes and a high score of 87 on the second day of the division.

“I thought today he was a little more relaxed, being his second day as a hunter,” Colvin commented. “He goes around easy and doesn’t want to make any mistakes, so he is very consistent.”

Colvin plans to continue Acclaim’s already successful hunter career for the rest of the circuit. “I think we will continue in this division and then probably show in a hunter derby or two,” Colvin explained. “His owner may also show him in the junior hunters.”

Reserve champion honors in the division went to Julie Curtin and RPW Show Horses, LLC’s Ice. Curtain, of Woodstock, GA, rode Ice to first, second, third, and three sixth-place ribbons.

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