Lexington, KY - November 5, 2011 - This evening hosted an array of talented Junior and Amateur-Owner Jumper riders as they vied for the top honors at the Alltech National Horse Show, 128th Edition. The $50,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Championship put riders and horses to the test as the qualifying riders competed for the coveted winning honors. This was the first time in the history of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame series that such a large purse was offered. It was Lillie Keenan who rode Vanhattan to the top of the leaderboard for the third consecutive night and led the victory gallop.
The course this evening was designed by Richard Jeffery of Bournemouth, England, and he built it with several oxers, a double combination, a triple combination, roll backs, and several bending lines. Out of the original field of 31 qualifying riders, only five rode clear and continued into the jump-off. The short course challenged the horse and rider combinations beginning over a standalone vertical designed to look like a traditional starting gate from the Keeneland racetrack. From there, the course continued over a vertical-oxer combination headed toward the in-gate. A sharp right turn upon landing from the oxer had the riders quickly showing over the second oxer of the outside vertical-oxer combination. With a hard right rollback, a single green vertical led to the Alltech oxer where riders then raced to finish over the Muhammad Ali skinny vertical and trip the timers.
Being the first to go clear during the first round, Christina Kelly and Camirage, owned by Diamond Edge Farm of Nicholasville, KY, had the first slot entering into the jump-off. The duo kept a fast pace all around, sliced every turn, and their determination showed as they tripped the beam at 37.300 seconds. Unfortunately, an unlucky rail on the last single vertical cost the pair. They eventually earned the fourth place award. Lauren Ward and Oskar, owned by McLain Ward of Brewster, NY, took the fifth place award.
Charlotte Jacobs and her mount Promised Land, owned by Candy Tribble and Windsor Show Stables of East Windsor, CT, began their turn around the short track with the plan to give her competitors something to chase. Her tight and neat turns cut time easily, ending with a time of 36.776 seconds, but an unfortunate rail over the Keeneland vertical proved detrimental, earning them the third place prize.
The first double-clear effort of the evening occurred when Robert Lee of Old Saybrook, CT, guided El Grecco over the short course and stopped the clock at 41.492 seconds, eventually garnering the second place honors. "My plan going into it, since no one had gone clean, was just to be safe and go around knowing I would either be first or second. I couldn't really risk running and having rails; I just wanted to play it safe," Lee expressed.
Lillie Keenan and Vanhattan, owned by Chansonette Farm LLC of New York, NY, knew what had to be done in order to ride to the top honors. "I saw part of Robert's round near the ending and one of my trainers, Patricia Griffith, had watched him and told me that he had gone clean, but chosen to take the turn around the Alltech oxer," she explained. "For me, since I have a naturally fast horse, it was about leaving up the fences and making all the turns, I knew he was quick enough. I did all the inside turns, but he is a naturally quick horse, so I didn't have to think about it too much."
Keenan and Vanhattan took every inside turn available, shaving off the seconds and leaving all rails intact. The talented duo tripped the beam at 39.663 seconds, greeted by the applause of the spectators and fellow exhibitors. "Just watching them build, I knew it was probably going to be a bit bigger than the last two classes," Keenan described. "For me this is a really special place, I love the Kentucky Horse Park, and it's a lot of fun to be here. I also don't worry about the footing because it is great, especially for this type of class. It holds up well, the horses are not in pain, and they don't slip very much. What I love about this venue is that they fill up the seats and there's cheering; it makes it really special."
"There was a lot of prize money involved in this evening's class, and it's a Classic, so you would expect it to be challenging. I didn't find the size to be too threatening, but the course was very technical. You had to really be a rider out there rather than sitting there passively and having the perfect horse. You had to be able to help them out, and I thought the course was very appropriate for everything it signified," Keenan said.
This was the third night that the duo took the top honors for the junior jumpers, but winning the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Championship was an outcome Keenan did not anticipate. "I have always expected a lot of Vanhattan, and I know he's special, but I definitely didn't think that I would make it here this year and have such a great outcome. Going into today after the past few days, I was confident, but it was still a challenging course and I couldn't make many mistakes. Vanhattan knows his job and he was ready to take care of me and he was on top of his game."
Following the $50,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Championship, the season-long series champions were announced for the Junior and Amateur-Owner jumper riders. Winning the East Conference Amateur-Owner Championship were Charlie Jacobs and Leap of Joy, owned by Deeridge Farm of East Aurora, NY, for his winning efforts. Christina Kelly and Camirage were presented with the East Conference Junior Championship after consistently earning top ribbons in competitions throughout the year.
Today's event benefited the Lexington Mounted Police and concluded the Junior/Amateur-Owner jumper action at the 2011 Alltech National Horse Show, 128th Edition. Tomorrow morning riders will return to the Alltech Arena to compete during the Maclay National Championship for the ASCPA Maclay Horsemanship Classes - Presented by Hadfield's Saddlery and benefiting the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. For more information, please visit www.nhs.org.
$50,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Championship
Order Entry # Horse Name Rider Name JF1 TF1 AF1 Time 1 JF2 TF2 AF2 Time 2
1 353 VANHATTAN LILLIE KEENAN 0 0 0 5.000 0 0 0 39.663
2 387 EL GRECCO ROBERT LEE 0 0 0 4.000 0 0 0 41.492
3 306 PROMISED LAND CHARLOTTE JACOBS 0 0 0 2.000 4 0 4 36.776
4 438 CAMIRAGE CHRISTINA KELLY 0 0 0 1.000 4 0 4 37.300
5 262 OSKAR LAUREN WARD 0 0 0 2.000 16 0 16 51.732
6 129 ULTIMATE VDL KALVIN DOBBS 0 1 1 79.460
7 274 DELILAH HASBROUCK DONOVAN 0 3 3 81.100
8 315 WHITTAKER MVNZ LAURA LINBACK 0 3 3 81.450
9 365 ROCKY W KAITLIN CAMPBELL 4 0 4 72.931
10 374 PAKO LILLIE ROSS 4 0 4 74.557
11 376 KOSTA DANIELLE COOPER 4 0 4 75.856
12 269 OLINDA GENEVIEVE ZOCK 4 0 4 77.118
Photo Credit: Lillie Keenan and Vanhattan won the $50,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Championship at the Alltech National Horse Show Photo, 128th edition. By: Shawn McMillen.