It had been seven months since Lillie Keenan (USA) had jumped internationally in the United States when she met her stallion Agana van het Gerendal Z for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Las Vegas (USA). She received a warm homecoming when she recorded her first career World Cup victory, besting a six-horse jump-off before a packed crowd Saturday night at the South Point Hotel.
Keenan was the last to jump-off over Anderson Lima's (BRA) 1.60m short track and caught the standard set by Daniel Coyle (IRL) and his 9-year-old mount, Ivory TCS. The winning time was 36.31 seconds. Coyle finished in 36.47 seconds, with 18-year-old Elisa Broz (USA) and Kardenta van't Meerhof third (36.65 seconds).
"I've taught myself when I go later [in the start order] to just walk my course, think about my plan and stick to it. I know Daniel's really fast. I didn't need to see him do it to know that I'd have to do everything I could to try to beat him."
Coyle, fresh off a World Cup win at Toronto (CAN) with Legacy, set a strong standard in the jump-off, but Keenan gained the advantage with an early gallop up the first line and a particularly tight turn back to the penultimate fence.
"On the approach to [fence] one, I can trust my horse so much to go on a slice," Keenan said. "For him, he's so competitive in every kind of class."
Keenan was on the fence with her Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final aspirations, but she has quickly changed course.
"My idea was, if I was top three here, I would go on to Fort Worth (USA). Obviously, that turned out to be the case, so I will be changing my plans now to do that," Keenan said. It's just about making the best plan for each of the horses and giving them their moments to shine."
Conor Swail (IRL) has won two North American League legs already this season, and although he did not make the podium in Las Vegas, he regained the lead in the NAL standings with an 11th-place finish; he has 56 points. Kentucky's (USA) winner Daniel Bluman (ISR) sits second with 54 points, and Coyle is third with 49 points.