The first CSI5* class of Royal Windsor has been claimed by a self-professed fan of the British royal family who hails from across the pond, but which top British riders did she beat to win? H&H’s reporter Sarah Radford has all the details from Friday’s five-star jumping classes...
The USA’s Lillie Keenan intercepted a British one-two on her Royal Windsor Horse Show debut to top the opening CSI5* class with Agana Van Het Gerendal Z.
The CSI5* Manama speed stakes was a mix between Olympic contenders warming up their top rides with Sunday’s Rolex grand prix in their sights and those setting out to win this two-phase on speed horses.
Israel’s Daniel Bluman had set an early lead with Gemma W which had remained unchallenged for most of the class, until Guy Williams and the 11-year-old mare Crispina Z found a two-second advantage.
Next in John Whitaker with his own and his wife Clare’s 13-year-old gelding Unick De Francport slotted into second place, before Lillie came in to steal the class with a one-second lead.
While Lillie has jumped at both Hickstead and Dublin, this was her first opportunity to compete at Windsor. She came over with other members of the US squad who have fitted this show into their pre-Tokyo Olympics programme.
“I wasn’t in the original US squad and didn’t know I was coming to Windsor until four days ago,” she said. “Since I had the chance to jump here, I couldn’t not try to win.
“It’s very, very special to be here and I hope it’s the first time of many,” she added. “I’m a bit of a nerd about British royalty so being in the castle grounds felt particularly special.”
Ten-year-old Agana Van Het Gerendal Z is Lillie’s horse for the second classes, while she plans to jump Fasther in the grand prix.
“I’m very lucky that I have two horses who are both competitive in their respective classes,” she said.
Lillie was fifth in the CSI5* grand prix at Knokke last week (27 June), riding Fasther, and will go on to Valkenswaard after Windsor.
“I feel lucky to be busy,” she added.
Celebrations for Holly Smith
Holly Smith secured the first British CSI5* win at the show on the same day as her British Olympic showjumping team place was confirmed when heading a world-class field in the 1.50m Pearl Stakes with Fruselli.
Sue and Gordon Hall’s rising 11-year-old stallion looked to have really stepped into his prime, giving the track air while delivering the fastest clear from third draw in an ultra-competitive, 12-strong jump off.
Meanwhile Lillie continued to seize the day on her Windsor debut, guiding her top ride Fasther into second place just 0.28sec down on the clock.
As the first big-track jump-off class of the show, the class gave a scintillating early taster of form in the run up to the Tokyo Olympics.
Britain’s young riders put in strong performances, with Tokyo travelling alternate Harry Charles, who was the jump off pathfinder, picking up third place with Princess Haya and his father Peter’s 11-year-old mare Stardust.
Joe Stockdale, who shared the puissance spoils with Guy Williams on Thursday, picked up fifth place with Don Diego De Plata, just behind Irishman Michael Duffy and Jeff Ten Halven.
Holly stole the class with a tight line to the penultimate double that only a handful of others attempted to emulate.
“As I went round, I tried to stay just inside everyone else’s tracks in the sand,” said Holly.
“He absolutely flies against the clock,” she added. “He was up against a class field and he was a fantastic horse to come out on top.
“He’s a horse you never have to ask, he’s always trying to give it to you.”
Keep up to date with all the action from Royal Windsor on HorseandHound.co.uk and pick up next week’s magazine for our indepth analysis of all the action.
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