If Kassidy Keith experienced a sense of déjà vu Sunday, April 30, at Langley’s Thunderbird Show Park, it wouldn’t surprise many – certainly not those in attendance for the $10,000 tbird Grand Prix 1.40m at the Spring Festival.
For the second consecutive week, Aldergrove’s Keith and her longtime mount Havana led the victory lap in the feature class of the week’s competition. Besting a five-horse jump-off, the pair cruised around Chris Jones’ shortened track in 42.17 seconds for a comfortable victory.
Sarah Lottis and Rhapsody finished second (43.62 seconds), with Jaehee Jeon and Kadans van de Mispelaere third (45.73).
“[Havana is] so game. When she’s on it, she really doesn’t want to let you down,” Keith said.
There was a turning point in Sunday’s jump-off. Keith was happy with how her horse jumped the first fence, but a sharp angle to the following oxer led to a lot of airtime. Upon landing, Keith knew she had to apply some extra leg.
From there, the pair turned the heat up, navigating the winding track swiftly and accurately. In fact, they almost turned too fast.
“We almost slipped inside after the oxer [the penultimate fence], because I caught it on such a hard angle!” Keith exclaimed.
But Keith didn’t need to take that much risk to secure another win. She and her mount took the longer route and expediently navigated the final vertical, crossing the timers more than a second fastest. Having now jumped their first 1.60m Grand Prix in the fall, the pair’s confidence at 1.40m is evident.
“I think the biggest change in [Havana] is that she’s so much better in the turns,” Keith said. “She used to jump so high in the air, and I was basically hanging on. Now, she’s so smooth, especially at this height. She jumps hard, for sure, [but] when she kicks out [on course], I know it’s going to be a good day!”
Thunderbird Show Park’s 50th Anniversary season resumes—and kicks off its calendar of international competition—at the Canadian Premier CSI5*/CSI2*.
The first of two back-to-back five-star weeks of elite show jumping, the event will also feature the opening leg of the 2023 Major League Show Jumping season, May 24–28, 2023.
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