Lillie Keenan checked a big item off her bucket list by claiming her first CSI5* Grand Prix victory in the GNP 1.60m at MLSJ Monterrey. From a stacked field, she and Queensland – a 13-year-old Zangersheide stallion (Quickfire de Ferann x Socrate De Chivre) – were the first to crack the code on Anthony D'Ambrosio's (USA) course.
A new talent to Keenan's string, Queensland E is no stranger to 5* competition. The stallion and 26-year-old Keenan made quick work of finding immediate success when they joined forces earlier this year. That success reached a peak on Saturday in Mexico.
From a three-horse jump-off, Keenan and Queensland E set an early pace and held on for the eventual victory over Brazil's Eduardo Menezes at the stunning Club Hípico La Silla.
After an unlucky rail in the jump-off, Menezes and H.Big Action (Action-Breaker x Big Star) settled for the runner-up position. Arturo Parada (MEX) rounded out the podium in third for the home nation aboard Bacot (Lavillon x Corrado I).
"From the beginning, Queensland has always tried his heart out for me, and that's the most important thing. He goes a little in his own way, but today I didn't ride my best, and he gave me more than everything. So, I think that's really what makes a horse so special at this level," Keenan said. "He has a lot of blood. That's what makes him so good; you can turn back with no canter on a big oxer and he finds a way to jump it."
"I honestly love jumping outdoors and on grass, so [the MLSJ] series is unbelievable for me. Now I get to jump all of these weeks on big, beautiful grass rings on great footing. I think that makes the horses their absolute happiest and they jump their best. I'm really excited to have been here. We had a great start in San Miguel and now obviously an amazing week in Monterrey. I'm looking forward to another week in Mexico and then go on to Thermal. It's really been a dream come true for me."
Action at MLSJ Monterrey concludes on Sunday with the stage 7 of the MLSJ Team Competition. MLSJ will return to Club Hípico La Silla in Monterrey, Mexico, for stage 8 of MLSJ November 10-13.