Keenan Coasts To Victory In USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals
August 20, 2011
Lexington, KY—It was no surprise that the third annual $100,000 United States Hunter Jumper Association International Hunter Derby Finals concluded with a thrilling finish. After all, the 2010-11 series finale brought many of the nation’s top show hunters to the Bluegrass State, where they vied for the title tonight over a masterful course with a Kentucky Horse Farm theme.
In the end, 14-year-old Lillie Keenan and C Coast Z topped a star-studded field with 765.50 points in front of an appreciative crowd of close to 900 and thousands more from every continent (except Antarctica) who tuned in live online via the USEF Network. Scott Stewart guided Fashion Farm’s Declaration to second place with 758, while Tammy Provost and Carlson claimed third with 725.50.
“This is amazing. Winning this really hasn’t sunk in,” said Keenan, who trains with Andre Dignelli and Patricia Griffith of Heritage Farm. “I couldn’t give my horse more credit. He’s a wonderful, wonderful horse. He wanted to win as much as I did, and he took care of me. I love him.”
Although Scott Stewart was the odds-on favorite after placing four of his mounts in the top six in the qualifier yesterday, he entered the Classic Round with a clean slate, as did the other top-25 competitors who qualified from the field of 59 starters. Keenan qualified two of her mounts, Madison and C Coast Z, respectively, in the fourth- and fifth-placed spots.
Tonight’s courses in the Sheila C. Johnson Ring at the Rolex Stadium featured a farm-themed setting, designed by Bobby Murphy (KY) and Patrick Rodes (TX). The fences and decorations created a feeling of cantering through a Kentucky Thoroughbred farm, complete with a tack room, stables and paddocks. The fence heights ranged from 3’6 to 4’ and offered riders an opportunity to pick up bonus points by taking any one or all of the four optional fences set from 4’ to 4’3.
Bettors may have still had their money on Stewart after tonight’s Classic Round, however, when he and Carlos-Boy topped the field with a beautifully consistent round. Keenan and C Coast Z placed second, while her trainer, Patricia Griffith, claimed third aboard Sienna.
The final Handy Round shook up the standings, though, with riders taking chances, angling fences and galloping all out in an effort to make an impression on judges, Scott Hofstetter (FL), Otis Brown (KY), Russell Frey (MD), Julie Winkel (NV), Carleton Brooks (CA), Jimmy Torano (FL), Jim Clapperton (MI) and Mike Rosser (NC).
Winkel was impressed with Keenan from the moment she walked in the ring. “She rode to win. She was consistent, and you could see the teamwork between her and her horse,” said Winkel.
Stewart, the final rider on course, couldn’t catch Keenan when Carlos-Boy, 16, a veteran grand prix show jumper, acted up on course to eventually place fifth. “He thought he was in a jump-off,” said Stewart simply.
Provost, Westfield, IN, and Alliy Moyer’s Carlson moved up to third with a beautiful, bold round that drew cheers and whistles from the spectators. “This was one of his best rounds,” said Provost of the 7-year-old Hanoverian. “I couldn’t have asked him to be better.
Keenan, New York, NY, has owned C Coast Z for two years. She originally purchased the 11-year-old gray warmblood, owned by Chansonette Farm, LLC, as an equitation prospect. The former jumper turned out to have an affinity for the hunters, though, and that’s where they’ve allowed him to blossom under Keenan’s guidance.
“She’s been awesome to teach since she was 7 years old,” said Dignelli. “My advice to her going in the handy round was to ride like Jen Alfano. Go in and ride like you want to win.”
In addition to her victory, Keenan earned the top junior award, and Susan Baker, who guided Tell All to 14th, the best amateur performance.
The USHJA thanks its generous sponsors Dietrich Equine Insurance, Charles Owen, Frantisi Incorporated/Grand Prix, Dover Saddlery, The Clothes Horse, Essex Classics, G4 Marketing, Telluride Farm, McGuinn Farms Ann K. Hubbard’s and Texas High Performance Series.
To learn more about Dietrich Equine Insurance’s line of quality products, please visit them at www.dietrich-insurance.com or call 800-942-4258.
For additional information on the 2011 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals, Presented by Dietrich Equine Insurance, please visit www.ushja.org.
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