CSI 4*

Lillie Keenan Puts on a Show Amidst the “Love Battle” of the $226,000 Bainbridge Companies Grand Prix CSI 4*

Lillie Keenan (USA) & Fasther– Photo: © Snowmanview Magazine / Jeena Jah Photography

Wellington, Florida, USA – March 26, 2023 – The heat was on in regards to more than one aspect for the $226,000 Bainbridge Companies Grand Prix CSI 4* on Sunday, the last day of the eleventh week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), offering a battle between partners, that is boyfriend and girlfriend for the top spot on the podium.

Besides, feauting a friendly “Battle of the Sexes”, riders not only had to face a fair but demanding course set by Olaf Peterson Jr. (GER), but also the 90 degrees heat which they were forced to compete under. In the end, it was Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Vancouver Dreams who emerged victoriously at the Wellington International equestrian venue.

Despite the inclement weather which kept many spectators away from the stands, 44 combinations were resilient, challenging the first round course with much courage. Daniel Coyle (IRL) showed the way aboard Quintin, being the first ones to register a clean round.

Having had great performances throughout the week and fresh off a great second-place finish in last night’s $146,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Classic Series Final CSI 4*, Charlotte Jacobs (USA) guaranteed a jump-off. As the fifteenth to go in the order, the rising star produced a textbook first-round clean performance aboard Edocenta, making it look smooth and easy, more like an equitation championship ride.

Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) and H&M Luna van’T Ruytershof also completed the course in flawless fashion. Under blue skies and the scorching heat of 90 degrees, clear rounds came few and far between after that, but at the end of the first round Zoe Conter (BEL), Samuel Hutton (GBR), Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Lillie Keenan (USA) had all joined the list of qualified combinations for the tiebreaker.

In the jump-off, Daniel Coyle (IRL) galloped from the get go, getting things started quickly but it proved costly as the Irishman and Quintin had a rail down along the way. Charlotte Jacobs (USA) and Edocenta put on another foot-perfect performance, however it was evident that their time of 42.06 seconds could be improved.

Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) and H&M Luna van’T Ruytershof (Levisto Z x For Pleasure) confirmed that, lowering the mark by almost four seconds. However, their final time of 38.11 would be good enough for bronze honors. Zoe Conter (BEL) did not have the same fate as in the first round, having a few issues along the track that incurred 25 penalty-points to the Belgian rider.

Samuel Hutton (GBR) and Casablanca-H put on a valiant effort to take over the lead, falling short by just over a second. There were two pairs left to come, in fact, one of the power couples of showjumping.

Lillie Keenan (USA) & Fasther– Photo: © Snowmanview Magazine / Jeena Jah Photography

Joining a list that includes the likes of world number one Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) and partner Janika Sprunger (SUI), Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Paris Sellon (USA), Marlon Zanotelli (BRA) and Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli (BRA), amongst others, it turned out, the luck of the draw had pinned Lillie Keenan (USA) and Darragh Kenny (IRL) as the last two to go in the decisive round. Battle of the Sexes II again at WEF this season? Who would prevail?

Keenan (USA) and Fasther (Vigo d`Arsouilles x Farmer) were deceptively fast, in fact, almost three tenths (37.85 seconds) faster than Philippaerts, moving to the top of the leaderboard.

After having secured the overall title in the CaptiveOne 1.50m Championship Series the previous day, it was back to business for Darragh Kenny (IRL). Showing the nerves of steel and speed he is known for, while being cool as a cucumber under the scorching sun, Kenny (IRL) seemed unfazed by the pressure, turning on the nitro on the 13-year-old chestnut Hanoverian mare (Valentino x Stakkato), completing the winning round in 36.18 seconds.

Winner’s Circle – Darragh Kenny (IRL)

“When I got her{Vancouver Dreams}, she was a bit tense and she would freeze a bit in the air. We have spent a lot of time trying to get her to relax and jump the jumps a bit softer. She just jumps clear rounds.”

Lillie Keenan (USA) & Fasther during the awards ceremony of the $226,000 Bainbridge Companies Grand Prix CSI 4* with Richard and Jennifer Schechter from Bainbridge Companies – Photo: © Snowmanview Magazine / Jeena Jah Photography

Final Results – $226,000 Bainbridge Companies Grand Prix CSI 4*

1) Darragh Kenny (IRL) & Vancouver Dreams – 0 / 0 – 36.18

2) Lillie Keenan (USA) & Fasther – 0 / 0 – 37.85

2) Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) & Luna van`T Ruytershof Z – 0 / 0 –38.11

Text: Jumper News, no reproduction without permission.

Source Interview: Insert Press Release fron ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions

Photos: © Snowmanview Magazine / Jeena Jah Photography