Aug. 20—Lexington, KY
The evening started out a little rough for Lillie Keenan at the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals. But by the night’s end, she had an 8-point lead over some of the top hunter riders in the country, most of them more than a decade her senior.
In tonight’s first round of the top 25, Keenan, 14, was the fourth rider on course with Madison, and they added a stride in the one-stride in-and-out of hedges at fences 9-10. But Keenan regrouped and came back with a top-scoring round aboard Chansonette Farm LLC’s C Coast Z, placing second only to Scott Stewart and Carlos Boy heading into the handy round. As the next-to-last rider in the handy round, she went all out, galloping around and slicing turns to lay down a trip that would be almost impossible to beat with a score of 410.
Watch Keenan's handy round on C Coast Z.
Carlos Boy had won both the qualifying round yesterday and the classic round tonight, but when Stewart got back on him for the handy, “he lost it,” he said. The former grand prix jumper thought he was headed back into the Sheila C. Johnson Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park for a jump-off. Although Stewart said he usually settles once he’s in the ring, he just didn’t tonight, playing a bit between the fences and not acting as rideable as he’d shown he could be in the earlier rounds. He finished fifth overall for owners Krista and Alexa Weisman.
Watch Carlos Boy's handy round.
“His first round was great though,” said Stewart. “It was one of his best.”
Keenan, New York, N.Y., said she knew Stewart was well ahead of her, so she planned to give it her all in the handy. “I knew I really had to run in the hand gallop, and I trusted my horse to do it,” she said.
Stewart, Flemington, N.J., still took second with Fashion Farm’s Declaration, who had a hard gallop to the final fence as the crowd egged him on and launched huge over it.
“He saved my life at the last, because I thought for sure he was chipping,” said Stewart with a laugh.
Watch Declaration's handy round.
Tammy Provost claimed the third spot with the 7-year-old Carlson, who’s usually competing in the small junior hunters with owner Alliy Moyer. “He’s very green for this, but he’s incredibly brave,” said Provost, Westfield, Ind. “And he’s all of maybe 15.2 [hands].”
Watch Carlson's handy round.