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  • Writer's pictureCatie Staszak

Keith Rallies in "Seize the Day" Speed Derby 1.25m

Kassidy Keith (CAN) & Evita. ©tbird/Kady Risby

Langley, BC — Kassidy Keith (CAN) had mixed emotions while walking the course for the "Seize the Day" Speed Derby, held in memory of Vicki Gourlay Saturday at Thunderbird Show Park.

Keith had two mounts coming forward of varying experience levels for the uniquely formatted class, which brought a myriad of beautifully decorated, yet eye-catching natural fences to the Fort Grand Prix Arena, utilizing the bank, water elements, brush, and logs. With one mount—Evita—Keith felt confident. With the other—Fenelon WF—she was admittedly nervous.

She was correct, on both accounts.

With Fenelon—her first ride of the evening—things didn't quite go to plan. In fact, she was unseated midway through the course, resulting in elimination.

Evita made up for it. Keith and the 15-year-old KWPN mare—a former winner of the CSI5* SunLife Financial Derby at Spruce Meadows with Sam Walker (CAN)—topped the faults-converted class by more than two seconds, crossing the timers of Marina Azevedo's 1.25m course in 88.96 seconds.

Bryna Closson (USA) finished second with Meteoric Rise (91.22s), followed by Laina Summers (USA) and Greannanstown Max a Million (91.41s).

"She's jumped everything," Keith said of her winning partner. "She wasn't spooky at anything. And the more gas you give her, the more she wants to win."

Few clear rounds came on the day, with Closson one of just four riders able to execute a faultless effort. But having a rail at a combination may have been helpful for Keith, motivating her to pick up the pace.

"After the four-stride on the side of the ring, I was going to jump the left side of the option, but I decided to jump the right side to [turn] tight back to the log," Keith shared. "[Evita] just opened up at the end."

Evita came into Keith’s string rather fortuitously. Marion Cunningham of MarBill Hill Farm began training on her hunter with Kassidy and Cheryl Keith’s Keepsake Farms about two years ago, and she eventually brought other horses to the stable. Evita was leased out last year and was meant to be leased again upon her return, but a deal did not come to fruition. So, Keith took up the reins.

“This was the second place I’ve jumped her,” Keith shared. “Marion just is very supportive, and she wants the horses to be in good hands and taken care of.”

As Keith forges forward with the mare, she’s appreciative of her record and hopes to participate in more derby events. Ultimately, she wants to place Evita where she can be most successful.

“We’ll do the derby next week at 1.30m,” Keith said. “She’s older, so we just want to keep her where she’s happy and comfortable.”

"Seize the Day" Speed Derby 1.25m

Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Score

1. Evita / Kassidy Keith / CAN / MarBill Hill Farm / 4 88.96

2. Meteoric Rise / Bryna Closson / USA / Bryna Closson / 0 91.22

3. Greannanstown Max a Million / Laina Summers / USA / Laina Summer / 8 91.41

4. Gare du Lyon / Kate Hamilton / CAN / IB Moller / 4 91.81

5. Caponerhall / Kaylie Martinoff / CAN / Inga Martinoff / 4 93.19

6. King's Gambit / Katie Shokirov / USA / Rachel Anderson / 4 95.4

7. Coralissa / Amanda Sinnett / CAN / MarBill Hill Farm / 0 96.34

8. Iregina / Ashleigh Charity / CAN / Natalie van Hal / 4 98.11

9. IB Boomerang / Shoshana Weiss / CAN / Shoshana Weiss / 8 99.55

10. Mimosa MHJ / Hannah Evans / USA / Mary W. Roush-Evans / 100.76


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