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Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Daisy Win Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic at WEF

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Daisy. Photos © Sportfot.

Keenan Goes Two for Two in Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix Series

Wellington, FL – January 22, 2017 – Week two of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) concluded on Sunday, January 22, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. Competition featured the $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic, which saw victory for 2016 Olympic Team Bronze Medalist Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) riding Daisy. The $25,000 Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix was also held with a win for young rider Lillie Keenan (USA) and Be Gentle.

Course designer Ana Catalina Harris Cruz (MEX) concluded week two with 64 entries in the 1.50m competition and 12 in the jump-off. The times were fast, but only three were able to complete the short course without fault. Michaels-Beerbaum took the win with Artemis Equestrian Farm’s Daisy in 41.98 seconds.

Marie Hecart (FRA) jumped Normandie Connection’s Cenwood Delle Lame to second place in 42.57 seconds, and Kimberly Prince (USA) rode Rushy Marsh Farm’s RMF Fatum to third place in 44.08 seconds. Jessica Springsteen (USA) had the fastest round in 40.44 seconds, but finished fourth with one rail down on Stone Hill Farm’s Davendy S.

A nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Excenel V x Timeless), Daisy jumped the young horse classes throughout Europe with Michaels-Beerbaum in 2016, and is just stepping up to the 1.50m level.

“She is absolutely fantastic. She has a heart as big as this horse show,” the rider described. “She wants to do it. She has a wonderful character, a wonderful attitude, and it makes riding fun. This was her first 1.50m jump-off class, and it was just amazing how well and how easily she jumped it. Then to go and win it like she did was really the icing on the cake.”

With five riders ahead of her in the jump-off that all had rails down, Michaels-Beerbaum was the first to jump a double clear round and keep up the pace.

“I knew everybody was going a little bit too fast, that’s why the rails were coming, so I tried to not overdo it,” she explained. “There were a lot of fast horses in the jump-off, and fast riders, so I think some riders were trying to win it before it was even over. I just tried to give her the best ride I could. She is a fast little horse, so the time was good enough. She is kind of like a little motorcycle. She is adorable and you know she is on your side.”

Michaels-Beerbaum plans to keep Daisy at the 1.50m height this winter to give the mare more experience. “We will just take it as it comes, and try to manage her well and not overdo it, but I think she has a big future,” she concluded.

Keenan Goes Two for Two in Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Series

The Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix Series hosted its second event of the circuit with back-to-back wins for 20-year-old Lillie Keenan of New York, NY aboard Chansonette Farm LLC’s Be Gentle. Keenan and the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Ticallux Verte x Gentleman) topped Saturday’s $10,000 Welcome speed class and returned to take victory in Sunday’s $25,000 Grand Prix jump-off.

The $25,000 Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix saw 65 entries Sunday morning in the International Arena at PBIEC. Ana Catalina Harris Cruz (MEX) set a challenging test for the young competitors, which saw five clear rounds advance to the jump-off.

Taylor Land (USA) was first to return over the short course, with a clear track in 43.56 seconds that eventually placed fourth riding Jay Land’s For Edition. Lucas Porter (USA) went next, jumping the second place time of 40.74 seconds aboard Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s Diamonte Darco. Kerry McCahill (USA) and Cadensky followed with the third place time of 43.43 seconds. Keenan then jumped the winning round in 39.85 seconds aboard Be Gentle. Last to go, Jennifer Gates (USA) incurred eight faults in 42.74 seconds to finish fifth.

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Lillie Keenan and Be Gentle

“I have a lot of confidence in my horse,” Keenan said following her win. “I have had her for over a year now and I have jumped her in some bigger classes, so we have experience together. She is lightning fast against the clock. I would say out of all my horses, she is the most straightforward and trustworthy. The feeling that she gives you is that you could really point her to the eye of a needle. Some of the angles that you can point her at for a jump are really remarkable.”

Keenan detailed her jump-off, explaining that her position to go fourth out of five was an advantage.

“I got to see Lucas go and I think really where I made up time was on the turns,” Keenan said. “I have experience going very fast on my horse. That was something that I tried to fine tune throughout the year, and I feel like now it’s really coming together.”

Lucas Porter (19), of Wellington, FL, took the reins on Diamonte Darco in 2016 after the mare showed with his older brother Wilton for two seasons. The 12-year-old Great Britain Sport Horse (by Unbelievable Darco) has jumped bigger tracks and is an experienced mount for her young rider.

“She’s a super competitive horse,” Porter stated. “Even though she has jumped bigger, our team feels that she jumps the best at this height. These classes are usually really quick, and she has now learned how to go fast against the clock, so she is super useful. It is the perfect fit for these U25 classes.”

McCahill (20), of Windermere, FL, just began showing Cadensky two weeks ago. She bought the 14-year-old Oldenburg stallion (Cornet Obolensky x Carthago Z) late in November and is getting to know the mount through the Under 25 classes.

“I was just trying to be smooth and give him a good ride,” she noted. “I really wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but he’s incredible. I am very lucky to have him.”

McCahill first showed in the Under 25 Series in 2016 and has made it her goal to qualify for this year’s $50,000 Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix Final, which the top 30 riders in the point standings will be invited to contest on Sunday, April 2.

The series, presented by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte, has been expanded to ten events offering a total of $215,000 in prize money for the 2017 season. Developed as a bridge to the international level of grand prix competition, the Series gives athletes, both human and equine, an opportunity to compete under a myriad of conditions, including jumping on grass, under the lights at night, and in team competition; all important elements that competitors will face as their international careers progress.

Keenan, who has been competing and training in Europe with Olympian Cian O’Connor of Ireland, enjoys the experience that the Series offers.

“I am very grateful that they offer this division because it is a great stepping-stone,” she noted. “I haven’t been in the show ring since November, so it is a big confidence boost to start the circuit with two events like this.

“I am very fortunate to have had the experience of competing in America throughout my junior divisions, going to Young Riders and making the transition to competing in Europe and showing against the pros,” Keenan continued. “Having the experience of myself jumping on a Nations’ Cup team, you need to learn how to deal with pressure and how to work in different environments, so I think we are very lucky that Hollow Creek Farm offers that for us here.”

A Family Affair for Martha Ingram

On the final day of competition at WEF 2, Martha Ingram, of Nashville, TN, rode Lyons Creek Bellini to the championship title and Ice Time to reserve honors in the Adequan® Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 3’3″ division. Both horses are owned by John and Stephanie Ingram, LLC.

Ingram and Lyons Creek Bellini placed first in the handy, second, third, and eighth over fences, and third under saddle to secure the championship. Aboard Ice Time, Ingram won two over fences classes and placed eighth under saddle. Ingram is a 20-year-old student at Furman University who competes at WEF with her parents, Stephanie and John Ingram.

Lyons Creek Bellini is a 2006 Polish gelding. Ingram purchased Lyons Creek Bellini two years ago from Hunter Holloway, who had successfully showed the gelding in the Junior Hunters.

“He’s really fun and an incredible handy horse,” applauded Ingram. “He’s my favorite to compete in the handy classes on. He likes to whinny when he walks in the ring. He’s sassy and has an attitude, but he’s very spoiled. He loves his treats. He’s a very sweet boy.”

Ingram’s other mount, Ice Time, is a coming ten-year-old Oldenburg gelding.

“I nicknamed him Sunny Bunny; I don’t know why,” confessed Ingram. “He’s just the cutest thing ever. He has a huge stride, no spook, and is very comfortable. He likes to hangout and loves his group of people.”

Ingram will return next weekend to compete and then is looking forward to week six, World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week. She cherishes being able to spend time with her family doing a sport she loves.

“My mom was supposed to come show this weekend. My dad is here obviously. He helped hack, jog, and was in the photo with me. It’s a family affair, and I wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Ingram.

The 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival continues with its third week of competition, sponsored by Adequan®, on January 25-29, 2017. Week highlights include the $35,000 Ruby Et Violette WEF Challenge Cup on Thursday, January 22, the $130,000 Adequan® Grand Prix on Saturday, January 28, and the $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Classic on Sunday, January 29. For full results and more information, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

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