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Lillie Keenan and Be Gentle race to five-star win at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival

Saturday, 11 March 2017
CSI5* WEF Week 9 2017

Photo (c) Sportfot. Lillie Keenan with Be Gentle. Photo (c) Sportfot.

Lillie Keenan (USA) and Be Gentle clocked a blazing fast time to win the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m CSI 5* on Friday, March 10, at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.

Course designer Alan Wade (IRL) saw 18 clear rounds out of 47 entries to contest his 1.45m speed track, and the times got faster and faster until the very end.

Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Spy Coast Farm's Cyklon 1083 raced in at 60.50 seconds for a brief lead, but eventually finished fourth. Ali Wolff (USA) and John C. Wolff's Caya stole the lead in 60.34 seconds, but settled for second in the end. Eduardo Menezes (BRA) came close to the time, but placed third with his round in 60.40 seconds riding E2 Stables' Caruschka 2. With three left to go, Keenan and Chansonette Farm's Be Gentle raced to the win in 59.83 seconds. 
"That was really exciting!" Keenan stated. "That horse gives you a great feeling because pretty much any class you enter, you have a shot at winning as long as you stay out of her way. I think there are very few horses that you can say that about."

Keenan had the advantage of jumping the track first on her horse Super Sox, and then going at the end with 'Jenny,' an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Ticallux Verte x Gentleman). "After I jumped my first horse, the one that I really wanted to watch to get a sense of what the winning track would need to be was Shane Sweetnam," Keenan detailed. "I think everyone would agree that he is a master of these classes, especially on Cyklon. I watched him go, and I thought that I would be happy if I was second to that. Then they started going faster and faster.

"The great thing about Jenny is that we walked a plan, and I knew what I had to do. She lets you make decisions in advance because she is so dependable," Keenan continued. "I was able to do a lot of the leave-outs. Where she makes up so much time is in the turns. I count the strides between the jumps that are on the corners. I think that is what made the difference, but the class got really fast at the end."

The 20-year-old rider is in school at Harvard University and splits her time between Boston and Wellington each week. The busy schedule is a bit different from most professionals, but trainer Cian O'Connor and his team at Karlswood Stables keep Keenan's horses ready to go.

"It is fun to be able to participate in classes like that and actually have a shot," she noted. "Unlike most professionals, I go to school for half the week. I don't sit on a horse, and then I show up on Thursday morning and try to jump the main class that day. When I first started the circuit, it was a little bit of a reality check. I am much shorter on experience than a lot of the riders in these classes, and I am tough on myself about that, but at the same time I have to be realistic.

"It is amazing to have a horse like Jenny that knows her job," Keenan added. "She is funny because at home on the flat, or in the schooling area, she does not want to do traditional work. She does not need to be drilled on anything; she just wants to go her own way. When you watch her walk into the ring, I just have her on a loose rein, and then as soon as she hears the buzzer, she knows. As soon as you pick up a canter and point her at a jump, it is like she zeroes in. She is an amazing horse."

Also competing in the International Arena on Friday, the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m CSI 2* class saw 62 entries and 18 qualified for the jump-off. Sixteen entries continued on for the tiebreaker, where eight jumped double clear.  The win went to Hilary McNerney (USA) and Z Acodate DDL in the fastest time of 35.17 seconds. Molly Ashe (USA) and Louisburg Farm's d'Arnita finished second in 35.52 seconds. Laura Chapot (USA) aboard her own and McLain Ward's Quointreau un Prince placed third in 35.64 seconds. 

McNerney's Z Acodate DDL was also given the Champion Equine Insurance Jumper Style Award for week eight, presented by Laura Fetterman.

Earlier in the day, Spain's Sergio Alvarez Moya earned his second win of the week, topping the $6,000 1.40m Speed Challenge riding Iron Man 111. The $2,500 Engel & Völkers High Amateur-Owner Jumper Power and Speed concluded the day with a win for Olivia Chowdry and Cosma 20.

Final Results: $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m CSI 5*

1. BE GENTLE: 2006 KWPN mare by Ticallux Verte x Gentleman
LILLIE KEENAN (USA), Chansonette Farm LLC: 0/59.83

2. CAYA: 2006 Holsteiner mare by Carolus I x Lancer II
ALI WOLFF (USA), John C. Wolff: 0/60.34

3. CARUSCHKA 2: 2004 Oldenburg mare by Caspar x Continue
EDUARDO MENEZES (BRA), E2 Stables: 0/60.40

4. CYKLON 1083: 2001 Swedish Warmblood stallion by Cardento x Cortus
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Spy Coast Farm LLC: 0/60.50

5. COSMOPOLITAN 30: 2006 Holsteiner gelding by Calido I x Ricardo
HEATHER CARISTO-WILLIAMS (USA), M/M Ralph Caristo: 0/60.75

6. BÖCKMANNS LAZIO: 2000 Westphalian stallion by Lancer II x Cor de la Bryere
MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Elm Rock LLC: 0/61.22

7. CON TOUCH S: 2006 Westphalian mare by Con Cento x Capitol I
LAURA KRAUT (USA), Julius Peter Sinack: 0/61.79

8. DOUBLE O SEVEN 7: 2008 KWPN gelding by Mr. Blue x Celano
KEVIN BABINGTON (IRL), Kevin Babington & Katznelson Jumpers LLC: 0/62.12

9. SAN SOUCIS Z: 2003 Zangersheide gelding by Surrealist v/h Paradijs x Voltaire
JIMMY TORANO (USA), Caroline Lloyd: 0/62.23

10. ARMAGEDON: 2005 KWPN gelding by Solitair x Cavalier
DANIEL BLUMAN (ISR), Cenci Jumper LLC: 0/63.74

11. COLLIN: 2007 KWPN gelding by Colandro x Amethist
LUIZ FRANCISCO DE AZEVEDO (BRA), Luiz Francisco de Azevedo: 0/64.01

12. SHERKAN D'AMAURY: 2006 Selle Francais gelding by Kannan x Quick Star
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Kent Farrington, Haity McNerney, and Daniel Crown: 0/65.08

Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media Inc / Photo (c) Sportfot

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