Lillie Keenan Does the Double in IDA Development Grand Prix

March 24. 2024

Lillie Keenan (USA) went two-for-two during Week 11 at the 2024 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Sunday’s $200,000 IDA Development CSI4* Grand Prix, presented by Barnwalkers, after also winning Friday’s qualifier at Wellington International in Wellington, FL. 

Lillie Keenan & Agana van het Gerendal Z, winners of the $200,000 IDA Development CSI4* Grand Prix, presented by Barnwalkers. Photo © Soprtfot

Keenan, 27, and Agana van het Gerendal Z, a 13-year-old Zangersheide stallion (Aganix du Seigneur x Topas), owned by Chansonette Farm, led the way from final draw in a five-horse jump-off over courses designed by Andy Christiansen (ECU). They stopped the clock in 35.75 seconds to pip Mario Deslaureiers (CAN) riding 15-year-old Holsteiner mare Bardolina 2 (Clarimo x Landos) owned by Wishing Well Farm. The Canadian Olympian and his Tokyo games mount posted a time of 37.23 seconds.

France’s Nina Mallevaey (FRA) rounded out the podium in 38.41 seconds aboard Cartier SR, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Canturenter x San Patrignano Cassini) owned by the Rein Family.

“Every class I put him in he can win, so when he’s my number-one I have a few chances to win some important classes,” said Keenan, a member of the U.S. team at the 2022 FEI World Equestrian Games in Herning, Denmark. “He was a star on Friday and he bettered that performance in the grand prix.”

Lillie Keenan & Agana van het Gerendal Z, are presented by winners of the $200,000 IDA Development CSI4* Grand Prix, presented by Barnwalkers, by Bobbi Rottman, Owner of Eques Solutions, and Chloe Reimer representing IDA Development. Photo © Soprtfot

Keenan also took top call in the Adequan® WEF challenge Cup qualifier on Friday with Agana van het Gerendal Z, and as a result, accepted the Martha Jolicoeur Leading International Rider Award, presented together with Michael and Wendy Smith.

Lillie Keenan accepted the Martha Jolicoeur Leading International Rider Award, Martha, Dr. Stephen Norton and Michael and Wendy Smith. Photo © Sportfot

“Unlike many in the jump-off, he improves from the speed round,” continued Keenan. “He gets scope from speed and momentum. That’s why he's a wonderful horse to have in your string; no matter the type of class, he can win."

Keenan explained that Aggie—as he’s known around the barn—requires very little work during show week. “We had a nice flat around on Saturday, and then he came in here to win the grand prix,” she said. “I was in the best position to be able to go last. I have had him for many years and he is my partner, but when your emotions are running high and you’re trying to win, your horse has to believe in you. I trust him completely.”

To cap the week, Keenans groom and Agana van het Gerendal Z's caregiver, Kelly Rohe, was presented with the $500 Grooms Award by Double H Farm. 

Kelly Rohe is presented with the $500 Grooms Award by Double H Farm. Photo © Sportfot

Christopher Payne Reigns in $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, Presented by YETI

The week’s highlight derby took place on the grass field at Equestrian Village on Sunday with the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by YETI. The culmination to a week of national and international derbies on the field, twenty-four horses took to the turf once more over Ken Krome’s (USA) courses. Held in the traditional hunter derby format where all riders tested across the classic round course, the top 12 returning for the handy round.

Christopher Payne & Reign, winners of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by YETI. Photo © Sportfot

Topping the field after both rounds to take victory was Christopher Payne of Cincinnati, OH, and Reign, owned by Provence LLC. The pair sat in the second heading into the handy after laying down a total classic score of 193 between the two judging panels. Payne and Reign moved up to the winning slot after adding a handy round score of 189 for a class total of 382. 

“Reign is wonderful. I won the green incentive on him and he has been champion so many times, but he hasn't done a lot of derbies,” said Payne of the 10-year-old stallion. “We've come through the ranks and he's a very smart horse. He's very athletic. In my mind I find him to be the epitome of a hunter because he is a beautiful mover, jumps in beautiful style and I think the grass was fun for him because you could open his stride up and give such a beautiful gallop.”

After placing fifth in Friday’s derby, Reign is proving his talent in the derby ring, taking the high options and handy turns with ease once again on Sunday. “When we got him I did him in the first year green or 3’6” greens and he'd be champion, so I would say to myself, ‘he was so good, I don’t want to wind him up for the derbies,’ so we put the derbies off but it's time to get in the derby ring and do it. He's only done a few, but seems to be coming through it pretty well. He did great out here.”

Christopher Payne & Reign are presented as winners of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by YETI. Photo © Sportfot

Following Payne on the podium was a tied second place finish once again, this time going to Jimmy Torano, of Wellington, FL, and Laskano, owned by Isalou, Inc, and Jacob Pope, of Columbia, MD, and Unbelievable, owned by Forget Me Not Farm, who also tied for second in Friday’s derby. The pairs came out with total scores of 379 across both rounds; Torano earning a classic score of 185 then moving up in the ranks with a handy score of 194, while Pope kept his scores nearly even, earning a 189 for the classic round and a 190 for the handy. 

“Ken did an excellent job with the course today,” said Payne. “I tend to be a cautious rider so my goal was to keep everything a bit loose and allow Reign to really use this space and gallop. It's amazing to have a course designer that has the insight and wants to make it the best for the horses. He made the last jump in the handy to an oxer which was so smart because nobody wants to gallop to a vertical towards the in-gate so he did an amazing job with it.” 

With the WEF season wrapping up for Payne and Reign, Payne now has sights set on a summer circuit in Kentucky with hopes of stepping up to derby finals with his new derby star.