Lillie Keenan Wins CSI4* Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 11

March 22. 2024

Lillie Keenan (USA) scored a four-star win at the 2024 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Friday’s $62,500 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup during the IDA Development-sponsored Week 11 at Wellington International in Wellington, FL. Keenan, 27, and Agana van het Gerendal Z led the way in the qualifier for Sunday’s $200,000 IDA Development CSI4* Grand Prix. 

A competitive field of 15 moved forward to the tie-breaking jump-off over an Andy Christiansen (USA) designed course. Keenan guided “Aggie”—as her horse is known around the barn—to a time of 37.39 seconds for the win. 

Lillie Keenan & Agana van het Gerendal Z, winners of the $62,500 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup. Photo © Sportfot

“He has really become my soldier; he does whatever class I need him to do whether it's a speed, Nation's Cup or grand prix,” said Keenan of the 13-year-old Zangersheide stallion (Aganix du Seigneur x Topas), owned by Chansonette Farm. “It's like he's a chameleon; he can morph into whatever I need him for.

“Once I was clear, I was debating even jumping off because he's my grand prix horse this week,” continued Keenan, a tap for the U.S. team at the 2022 FEI World Equestrian Games in Herning, Denmark. “He has a real shot in the grand prix, but he's a competitor and always wants to win. He's the type of horse that when you put him under pressure and ask him to give everything, he gets better.”

Mexico’s Carlos Hank Guerreiro gave his best effort from last draw to finish second aboard H5 Ganesh Hero Z on a time of 37.39 seconds. 

Carlos Hank Guerreiro & H5 Ganesh Hero Z. Photo © Sportfot

“He made me sweat,” said Keenan of Hank coming behind her. “But, that’s why we do this and it's great to have riders in there that keep pushing us to be better.”

The podium was rounded out by Italy’s Piergiorgio Bucci riding Hantano for owner Iron horse Farm. They stopped the clock at 37.91 seconds.

Piergiorgio Bucci & Hantano. Photo © Sportfot

Of Aggie’s personality, Keenan noted that there’s a trick to keeping the stallion happy. “He loves my mother. It's really shocking but whenever I feel like I've hit a roadblock with him, I put my mom on at home and he goes back to being an angel to ride. Once you're riding him, he has only the best qualities of a stallion; he has so much heart. I would love to clone him a hundred times—anyone would dream of a horse like that in their barn.”

Keenan will focus Agana van het Gerendal Z on Sunday’s grand prix before heading to Europe this spring. 

“I’ll jump some of the Nation's Cups for Team USA,” she said of her plan. “Obviously, the Olympics are on the radar. I would love to go to Paris, but anything that I can do for the team and to represent America at any of the observations is obviously a huge goal in and of itself.”

Greg Crolick and Chappy Jump to Blue in International Hunter Derby, Presented by Marshall & Sterling/ Great American

Derby action returned to the Equestrian Village Derby Field on Friday with the International Hunter Derby, presented by Marshall & Sterling/ Great American. Thirty-three riders braved the rain and tested themselves across the Ken Krome (USA) designed Hunt-and-Go track, ahead of the weekend’s largest International Derby, presented by YETI, taking place on Sunday. 

Held in a Hunt-and-Go format, horse and rider combinations performed their classic and handy rounds as two phases over a single track. Fences 1-7 made up the Classic phase while fences 8-14 represented the Handy phase, consisting of a single trot fence and options for tight, “handy” turns. 

Greg Crolick & Chappy, winners of the International Hunter Derby, presented by Marshall & Sterling/ Great American. Photo © Sportfot

Proving derby best was Greg Crolick, of Clarkston, MI, and Chappy, owned by Carole Chase. The pair swooped in for the win as the second-to-last to take to the course, putting out a classic phase score of 93 and a handy score of 90.75 for a grand total of 183.75. 

“Our partnership has been going on for about three years now. Right from the get-go it was wonderful,” said Crolick of the 13-year-old gelding. “We only had him for five or six weeks, and he did his first derby with me, and the second derby we did he won the $50,000 class during week 12 down here. 

“He came really far, really quickly, and was still a greenish horse for doing these but he is naturally talented. He has a natural scope and carefulness. Once in a while we make a mistake here and there, but he's got a level head and is very quiet, so it's really nice to go in these classes.” 

Over their three year partnership, Crolick and Chappy have made quite the name for themselves in the arena. Just this season alone the pair has placed top three twice in international derbies, as well as taking High Performance Hunter Champion during WEF 8. 

Greg Crolick & Chappy are presented as winners of the International Hunter Derby, presented by Marshall & Sterling/ Great American. Photo © Sportfot

Following Crolick’s top prize was a rare tie for second on the podium. Nick Haness, of Temecula, CA, and Caristo, owned by John & Stephanie Ingram, LLC, along with Jacob Pope, of Columbia, MD, and Unbelievable, owned by Forget Me Not Farm, laid down two beautiful rounds that were too close for judges to split. Both earning a total score of 183, Haness earned a classic score of 91 and a hand score of 92, while Pope earned a reverse of 92 for the classic and 91 for the handy. 

“I love jumping out here. I think the horses jump so much better. For a horse like Chappy who needs something more thrilling and more daring and more challenging, it's great for him,” said Crolick of the day on the field. “There was a big field and some high scores going out there with good riders and great horses, so my plan was to put in a good solid round and be as handy as I could in the handy and give a little wow factor.” 

Crolick and Chappy will try to bring their wow factor back to the field on Sunday for the week’s ultimate competition, the $50,000 International Hunter Derby, presented by YETI.