Langley, British Columbia – On the final day of the BCHJA Fall Finale at Thunderbird Show Park, Kassidy Keith (CAN) stood in a familiar place—at the top of the U25 division.
Last year’s MarBill Hill U25 League champion, Keith and her 9-year-old stallion Fenelon WF produced the only clear round in the MarBill Hill Grand Prix CSI U-25 1.40m to take the victory. The win clinched her the series title for the second year in a row.
With no jump-off necessary, Jarne Francken (USA) and Gogolinus finished second as the fastest four-faulters from the first round (78.58). Emily Fitzgerald (CAN) and Coco du Houlbec Z finished third (4/80.56).
“For me, at the start of the year, this [series] wasn’t a goal of mine. I thought we would maybe get there at the end of the year,” Keith said. “[Fenelon WF] really flourished over the summer. “He had a day off [yesterday], and today—you can tell when he comes into the warm-up ring [that he’s ready]—he’s a little cheeky. He always puts 110 percent into it; he never gives minimum effort.”
With Sunday’s class serving as the series finale, Keith quickly understood she was walking a technical track, and when “Flex” jumped into the five-strided line at fence four, he spooked off the ground, requiring Keith to react and ride forward through the line. Navigating that challenge successfully, Flex immediately returned his focus to his rider, and the rest of the track came up beautifully in stride.
“He came back and rode so good the rest of the course,” Keith said. “It was technical—for him especially. It was one of the more technical courses he’s jumped.”
While securing the series title wasn’t novel for Keith, it was certainly meaningful. Kassidy and her mother, Cheryl Keith run their Keepsake Farms together out of Langley Township, BC, and Cheryl picked out “Flex” as a five-year-old in Alberta.
The Keiths have certainly proven to have a knack for developing horses, having also produced last year’s U-25 Champion, Havana, who is now jumping at the CSI 3* level. There is more in the pipeline; the Keiths bred Havana and Fenelon WF via embryo transfer and have a 6-month-old colt named Finn.
“It means a lot. My mom and I have developed this horse. He’s really her horse; he’s one she picked out,” Kassidy said. “There’s a lot invested. I think he really rose to the occasion today, and he tries his heart out for me.”
Final Results – $25,000 MarBill Hill Grand Prix CSI U-25
1) Kassidy Keith (CAN) & Fenelon WF – 0 – 76.39
2) Jarne Francken (USA) & Gogolinus – 4 – 78.58
3) Emily Fitzgerald (CAN) & Coco Du Houlbec Z – 4 – 80.56
Source: Press Release by Catie Staszak / Catie Staszak Media Thunderbird Show Park
Photos: © Tbird/Quinn Saunders