Hickstead, England—July 31
Ireland’s Billy Twomey crowned a fantastic week at the Longines Royal International Horse Show, claiming first prize in the €200,000 Longines King George V Gold Cup with the chestnut mare Lizziemary.
It was an enthralling renewal of the historic class, with 48 of the world’s top riders coming forward to do battle for the feature grand prix class of the show. And young U.S. rider Lillie Keenan, just 19, was less than a second slower than Twomey in the jump-off to claim third place about Super Sox. Dutch rider Wout-Jan van der Schans took second.
All three of Keenan’s teammates for the U.S. team’s tie for fourth in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup earlier in the week at Hickstead—Katie Dinan, Lauren Hough and Paris Sellon—also jumped in the Longines King George V Gold Cup. Dinan made it to the 13-horse jump-off, riding Nougat du Vallet into seventh with a clear jump-off round just 4 seconds off the winning pace. Sellon rode Adare into 25th with a rail and 1 time fault while Hough retired on course with Cornet 39.
Lillie Keenan on Super Sox on the way to third place in the Longines King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead. Photo by Bob Langrish
Keenan, who won both the Pessoa/USEF Medal and ASPCA Maclay finals at the age of 16 in 2013, trains with Irish rider Cian O’Connor and has been spending the summer showing in Europe. She and Super Sox jumped in their first five-star Nations Cup at Hickstead, turning in scores of just 4 faults in Round 1 and a clear in Round 2 to help the U.S. team tie for fourth.
A total of 13 riders went clear over Kelvin Bywater’s track in the first round, including British hopes Anna Power and Tim Stockdale. The second to go in the jump-off, Dinan of the USA, produced the first double clear in 44.38 seconds. Anna Power and Blazer B, fifth to go, were the next to jump clear, but they couldn’t catch Dinan.
Katie Dinan blazed the trail in the jump-off aboard Nougat du Vallet. Photo by Bob Langrish
Tim Stockdale and Fleur de L’Aube then took the lead, knocking more than 2 seconds off the leading time, but a few horses later, Stockdale’s dream of winning a second King George ended when Ireland’s Bertram Allen (Molly Malone V) shaved a quarter of a second off Stockdale’s time.
Hickstead-based Shane Breen produced by far the swiftest time of the competition with the aptly named Golden Hawk, but 4 faults cost the Irishman the win.
Wout-Jan van der Schans and Capetown galloped to the finish of the Longine King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead to take second. Photo by Bob Langrish
The Netherlands’ van der Schans took the lead from Allen, with a storming round by the USA’s Keenan seeing her slot in behind van der Schans on the leaderboard.
Lillie Keenan kicked on aboard Super Sox to claim third place. Photo by Bob Langrish
But Twomey had been the man to beat all week at Hickstead, having netted three international wins—the Bunn Leisure Salver with Diaghilev, plus the British Speed Classic and the Bunn Leisure Vase with Thomas—earlier in the week. Making the most of being the last drawn, he powered round with Lizziemary to shave almost half a second off the leading time.
Billy Twomey on Lizziemary on their way to the win. Photo by Bob Langrish
It was the chestnut mare’s first time competing in the International Arena at Hickstead, and what a debut she made. “Ordinarily horses need to know that arena, but she’s really brave and has a big rangy gallop that covers the ground, so it suits her,” said Twomey.
The mare was originally produced by British rider Emma-Jo Slater. “She has done an unbelievable job and deserves credit,” Twomey added. “I was following the mare as a young horse and have a good relationship with her former owner Kim Barzilay—she gave me the horse on sale or return last October so I’m very grateful to her. She’s got another good horse in the yard at the moment so hopefully she’ll think of me!
“I’m just delighted how the mare performed—I’ve always felt she’s been knocking on the door, but not quite delivered. I’m very proud that she’s managed to win one of the most prestigious classes in the world. I had a good show in Dublin last week, where I was the leading rider—there is a lot to be said for when you’ve got your tail up and are full of confidence.”
Lillie Keenan picking up third place with Super Sox. Photo by Bob Langrish
Paris Sellon and Adare picked up just one rail and 1 time fault in Round 1 to take 25th. Photo by Bob Langrish
Lauren Hough and Cornet 39 didn’t have the round Hough wanted and retired in Round 1. Photo by Bob Langrish