Sancento, ridden by Todd Minikus, goes clear in his very first Grand Prix. (Photo courtesy of Shawn McMillen Photography)
Lexington, KY (May 16, 2017) — Todd Minikus’ feet barely hit the ground between stirrup irons at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show in Lexington, May 10-14. Minikus competed on a dozen horses over the weekend making a lot of owners happy with top finishes on several horses. Alex Verlooy’s Carvelo Z took the blue in the 135m leading the Minikus jumper charge. Minikus also finished in the money with eight others including Alice Lawaetz’s handsome bay gelding, Incitatus and her fiery chestnut, Sancento, along with four horses owned by The Coverboy Group — Coverboy, VDL Excel, Eldorado VDL, and Elarina — and Chablis S owned by Los Establos Sport Horses.
As he did at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival this year, Minikus found a few spare minutes to campaign in the hunter rings, as well. Minikus’ own bay gelding Exceptional lived up to his name by earning first place in the Young Hunter 3” & 3’3 class.
Always quick to credit his team, Minikus shared, “I’ve got 12 horses up here and I’m just riding all day. I’ve got my staff with me and they are doing a great job. They are all hustling.”
Though Minikus is a seasoned competitor with well over 100 Grand Prix wins under his belt, his equine partners were a bit newer to the scene. “The highlight of the week was when Alice Lawaetz’s horse, Sancento, jumped clear in his very first Grand Prix. We were very excited about that,” said Minikus. “Hopefully this weather cooperates so we can just keep on moving these young horses up,” commented Minikus.
Minikus is now focusing on the upcoming Kentucky Spring Classic, which runs May 17-24 at the Kentucky Horse Park. Team Minikus will then get the jump on summer competition at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina.
When not competing nationally and internationally, Todd Minikus offers sales and training services in Wellington, Florida. Minikus, a FEI Nations Cup veteran, is also a U.S. Pan American Games Team Bronze Medalist. Follow the excitement of Team Minikus on Facebook and Instagram @Todd_Minikus, or visit www.ToddMinikusShowJumping.com.
(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Hunter Holloway and Any Given Sunday.
Ocala, FL (March 30, 2017): The Ocala Winter Circuit came to a close last week in Week X at HITS Post Time Farm. The Ocala Winter Circuit will return next year in 2018 with the same schedule. Great American Insurance Group will again sponsor the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix for what will be the fifth consecutive year.
Hunter Holloway Captures Win in $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby in Ocala
The final week of the 2017 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit drew to an end last weekend as an eager crowd gathered to witness 28 riders and their elegant mounts compete for one of the most prestigious hunter victories, the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.
Last week’s hunter event marked the second USHJA Hunter Derby at HITS Ocala this winter season. It was a big class that carries very prestigious honor, and the top placings were stacked with young, talented equestrians.
The top contenders were all competitive and accomplished jumper riders in the junior/amateur-owner divisions as well as several Grand Prix winners – but this day was all about the hunters, and these stellar performances did not disappoint the crowd.
Hunter Holloway of Topeka, Kansas walked away with the blue-ribbon victory aboard Any Given Sunday, owned by Hays Investment Corp. In the Week IV Hunter Derby, Holloway and Any Given Sunday received the second place prize, but this time, they were picked to sit at the top of the leaderboard.
Second place went to Personalized, owned by Further Lane Farm, and ridden by Brian Moggre. Moggre has shown tremendous success in the jumper ring, including a huge win in last year’s $250,000 Black Barn Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Final at the HITS Championship in Saugerties.
Moggre and his beautiful mount stepped up to the plate in Saturday’s derby to walk away with the red ribbon.
Cassandra Kahle, also a seasoned Grand Prix rider, took home third place piloting Baranus, owned by Redfield Farm. Kahle has won several Devoucoux Hunter Prix at HITS’ Shows and a tremendous amount of ribbons at HITS. The Canadian equestrian also took home fifth place in the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final last September in Saugerties.
Tracy Fenney rode MTM Outbid, owned by MTM Farm, to the fourth place spot. Fenney is also a winner of many Grand Prix at HITS Ocala and, like Kahle, took home a ribbon in the top five in the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix last year with third place. Fifth place in last week’s Derby went to Cassius, ridden by Caitlyn Shiels and owned by Don Stewart.
The enchanting stage was set for the field of top-caliber contenders with a lovely course designed by Tim Hott of Cumming, Iowa.
Unique to the derby format, in addition to the base score, two judging panels awarded an Option Bonus Score consisting of one additional point for every higher height option fence jumped. As 12 returned for the second round, judges awarded a Base Score, Option Bonus Score and a Handy Bonus Score, assessing the handiness of the round.
The top twelve returned for the second round of the two-round derby. Holloway and Any Given Sunday entered the second round sitting in third place. They opted for two height options, and earned a total that moved them ahead in the pack for the eventual win thanks to their total of 19 handy bonus points. They earned a high second-round total score of 204, combined with a first-round total score of 175 for a very high overall score of 379.
Moggre and Personalized came into the second round sitting in fourth place tie with the eventual sixth place, Robert Lee and Intrepid. After a first-round score of 172, the pair made a major comeback, opting for two height options to step into second place with their second-round total of 194 for an overall score of 366.
Cassandra Kahle was behind in the pack with a first-round score of 160, they made a major comeback in the second round, opting for all four height options to garner a second-round score of 200, boosting their overall total to 360 for third place.
Fenney’s fourth place ride aboard MTM Outbid was second place coming into the second round after a first-round total of 179. Combined with their second-round score of 167, that gave them an overall total of 346.
Caitlyn Shiels and her fifth place mount, Cassius, earned a first round score of 165 combined with their second-round score of 166; they finished the class with an overall score of 331 for the final spot in the top five.
Adelaide Toensing Tops the Field in HITS Equitation Championship
The lights of the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium gleamed down on competitors for the return of the HITS Equitation Championship. Adelaide Toensing took home the evening’s top honors in Ocala, Florida.
After ten weeks of qualifying opportunities throughout the HITS Ocala Winter Show Circuit, thirty-two juniors took their chance at the technical course, set at 3’6”, designed by Tim Hott of Cumming, Iowa. Competitors were judged by two sets of officials who evaluated their abilities as emerging horsemen and women. The course tested not only their competence in the ring, but also their efforts in the schooling area, as all riders turned in their cell phones and left their trainers in the stands.
A warm-up judge was solely assigned to evaluate how efficiently the riders utilized their time in the warm-up ring and their effectiveness in schooling their horses. Riders banded together as they walked the courses, warmed up and competed all on their own, forming a sense of camaraderie among opponents.
The course included gymnastics, trot fences, oxers, verticals and combinations in the first round, with the second round displaying a more technical, jumper-style course, including an open water element as an option fence.
As the top 12 returned to contend for the blue in the two-round championship, Toensing was feeling confident after sealing the second-highest score of the first round, an 84, to continue into the second round. Toensing earned an 85 in the second round, keeping their scores consistent throughout each challenge. The combined scores produced a winning total of 169.
Coming in behind Toensing for second place was Briley Koerner. She received a 78 in the first round, improving to an 88 in the second round, the highest of the second-round course, to produce a total of 166.
Third in the ribbons was Abigail Lefkowitz with a total score of 163.5 – comprised of her first-round score of 77.5 and improved second-round score of 86.
Todd Minikus Takes the Blue in $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix during Final Week at HITS Ocala
Competition continued during the final week of the Ocala Winter Circuit with the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix
The order of go was stacked with talent, including Florida equestrian Todd Minikus, who would eventually win the class, young star Lillie Keenan, who rode in the FEI Nations Cup™ Ocala for Team USA, and Irishman Cian O’Connor, who placed third in last weekend’s AIG $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Coachella.
Thirty-three challengers turned out for their shot at the top prize, and nine went clear to advance to the jump-off course set by Werner Deeg of Germany.
Four jumped clear over the shortened course in a race for the win, where it all came down to speed and agility.
Minikus rode Valinski S, owned by Michael Dorman & Wyndmont, Inc., to the win, going sixth in the order in the jump-off. They stopped the clock in a cool, fault-free finish in 33.348, two seconds ahead of the eventual second placer.
Tracy Fenney, a force to be reckoned with in the Grand Prix at HITS Ocala, took home the red ribbon and second place prize aboard MTM Como No, owned by MTM Farm. They passed the timers in 35.637 for the ultimate second place spot on the leaderboard.
Venezuelan equestrian, Emanuel Andrade, is a speedy rider and has laid down numerous quick and competitive rounds in the Grand Prix. Andrade rode for Team Venezuela in the FEI Nations Cup™ Ocala and placed highly all weekend.
Andrade piloted Reus De La Nutria to a 35.983-second finish, just three-tenths of a second behind Fenney for the third place prize.
Fourth in the ribbons was Isabelle LaPierre of Canada and her own Cesha M. LaPierre and Cesha M have been consistent contenders in the Grand Prix Ring at HITS Ocala this season, including a win in the Week IV $50,000 HITS Grand Prix. Their clean time of 37.073 earned them their spot in the top five when the class was finished.
Rounding out the top five was Lillie Keenan riding Be Gentle, owned by Chansonette Farm, LLC. They powered through the course but an unfortunate rail would give them four faults as they crossed the finish. Their quick time of 35.365, however, would settle them with the fifth place prize.
Ocala, FL, (USA), 12 March 2017 – As the final pair to enter the turf field at Live Oak International, the USA’s Todd Minikus and Babalou delivered a commanding, double clear performance to win the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Ocala, the closing leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016/2017 North American League season.
Until Minikus crossed the timers at 47.77 seconds, Germany’s Andre Thieme and Conthendrix held the lead as the seventh pair to ride in the 18-horse jump off. Thieme stopped the clock at 49.39 seconds with zero faults across the shortened track. France’s Alexandra Paillot rounded out the international podium with a third-place, double clear finish aboard Polias de Blondel. Their round clocked in at 51.68 seconds.
“I could have the reputation of going maybe a little too fast, once in a while,” said Minikus. “I was basically not trying to turn too tight or make a silly mistake by going too fast. And Andre was pretty quick. It was a great event and I’m very excited to be back. The two times I’ve been here, I’ve ended up winning so I’m all about Live Oak.”
From a starting number of 38 entries, nearly half of the field went clear in the first round over a fair, yet testing, course built by Bob Ellis (GBR). The first round featured 13 obstacles and 16 jumping attempts, with triple and double combinations. Ellis also utilized the field’s slope to test adjustability, scope, and carefulness at strategically placed verticals and wide oxers.
“My plan was to provide some good sport, which we had,” said Ellis. “We had a few clear rounds; more than I had expected, I have to say. But a great jump off. These guys made it very, very exciting.”
It was the final round that highlighted the day’s top combinations when only five pairs jumped double clear. Galloping lines and rollback turns asked multiple, difficult questions that caused rails to drop throughout the course, particularly at a careful vertical that followed on a bending line from the Longines oxer.
After a streak of faults in the riding order, the odds looked to be against Minikus to ride clear. But proving that the best had yet to come, he seamlessly and efficiently rode through tight turns to find the correct distances and came away with the coveted win.
Noticeably missing in the jump off were 2016 Rio Olympics pairs Ben Maher (GBR) and Tic Tac and Scott Keach (AUS) and Fedor, with four and five faults, respectively. And the winner of last year’s event, Marilyn Little (USA), also narrowly missed advancing with an unlucky rail in the first round.
The rankings have decided which 14 riders have earned bids to the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Omaha, Nebraska (March 29 – April 2). The top seven athletes from the East Coast (USA), top three from the West Coast (USA), and the two best-placed athletes from Canada and Mexico have qualified through the Longines FEI World Cup™ North American League.
Bob Ellis (Course Designer): “We did a little bit of damage to the ground over the last few days so it was mainly looking for some grass. I thought the footing for today was excellent.”
Todd Minikus (1st): “Actually the pressure was in the qualifying class. I had two jumps down, eight faults, and then I was driving back to Wellington very worried I wasn’t going to get qualified so it was a bumpy road the whole way until the last jump there.”
“I’ve been riding [Babalou] since she was 5 years old so it’s hard to even remember what she was like as a young horse, other than she was kind of mean. She’s kind of short necked so that’s just the way her neck places itself. Sometimes you’ve got to give a good release to jump.”
“I think the grass is a nice change. I’m not the biggest fan of grass. But it is a nice change from the everyday, showing on the all-weather footing. I think you do have to alter your style of riding a little bit. For example, you have to go back to a more sophisticated turn on the grass. I hate riding in the rain so I’m so glad it didn’t rain. But today I thought the footing held up awesome. We were going fast enough and the horses felt comfortable so it was all good.”
Andre Thieme (2nd): “I was pretty sure that I would end up in the top three with that. But I was also pretty sure I was not going to win it with that. But then one after another had rails and didn’t catch my time so then there was that final moment where I said, ‘Maybe.’ But then I saw [Minikus] warming up and I knew [it wasn’t going to happen]. He was on it and I saw it. So I was afraid of [Cian O’Connor] and of [Minikus]. I have to say that after winning the $10,000 leading rider award, I felt like a winner.”
Wellington, FL (February 13, 2017) – Todd Minikus has once again topped the bill during week five of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival, claiming his fourth consecutive win of the week by placing first in the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. Minikus, aboard Wyndmont’s Zephyr, clocked in the final round at a swift 35.98 seconds.
Sunday’s win was just the cherry on top of a streak of victories for Minikus so far this season at the Wellington, Florida show series. The string of high-stakes wins that Minikus has already collected include three $35,000 classes, the $50,000 National Guard Grand Prix, and the FEI $216,000 Ariat® Grand Prix. Minikus and Zephyr also saw victory earlier this same week, having captured the first place title in the FEI 5* $35,000 1.45m class. As the blue ribbons continue to stack up for Minikus, the show jumping superstar is a top competitor to watch at this year’s Winter Equestrian Festival.
Many of Minikus’s exceptional results so far this season have been achieved aboard Zephyr, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Landor S x Calvados), who is a newer mount for Minikus. “I have ridden so many horses in my life that there is not much that I have not seen or felt at this point,” Minikus said. “It does not take long for me to adapt to different horses really. I like that challenge of getting on new horses. When you are as old as I am, you don’t need much practice,” he joked.
Minikus’s wife and supporter, Amanda Minikus, was thrilled with this week’s results with Zephyr. “Todd started riding Zephyr in November of this past year, and this time they just nailed it. They really make a fantastic combination – every time they go out so far, they’ve been unbeatable.”
Minikus plans to continue with his impressive track record throughout the upcoming weeks of competition at the Winter Equestrian Festival, which runs through April 2, 2017 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. It is the world’s largest and longest-running hunter/jumper show circuit, attracting top horses and riders from all over the world to Wellington annually.
Todd Minikus is a U.S. Pan American Games Team Bronze Medalist and FEI Nations Cup veteran with well over 100 Grand Prix wins under his belt. In addition to competing nationally and internationally, Minikus also offers sales and training services. To learn more about Todd Minikus, visit www.ToddMinikusShowJumping.com and follow him on Facebook and Instagram @Todd_Minikus.
Minikus and Zephyr Are Unbeatable in Suncast® 1.50m; Jane Gaston and Because Top Hunt Ltd. Amateur-Owner Hunter Over 35
Wellington, FL – February 12, 2017 – Week five of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) concluded on Sunday, February 12, in Wellington, FL, with a win for Emily Moffitt (GBR) and Poden Farms’ For Sale 6 in the $50,000 Equo Grand Prix CSI 2*. Todd Minikus (USA) and Wyndmont’s Zephyr also kept their winning streak alive with a victory in the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic.
Week five course designer Robert Ellis (GBR) concluded Sunday’s competition with 45 entries in the $50,000 Equo Grand Prix CSI 2* and 12 faultless combinations to jump-off. Out of seven double clear rounds, Emily Moffitt and For Sale 6 clocked the fastest time of 37.03 seconds. Lucas Porter (USA) and Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s B Once Z finished second in 37.39 seconds. Andrew Welles (USA) and Peter Welles’ Boo van het Kastanjehof placed third in 38.14 seconds, and Mavis Spencer (USA) completed the fourth place time of 38.79 seconds riding Mike Collins’ Cornetiero.
Moffitt (18) switched from representing the U.S. to riding for Great Britain this year and stood for the playing of the British national anthem in her honor for the first time on Sunday. Moffitt has a farm in Wellington, but is based in England most of the year and began training with Olympic team gold medalist Ben Maher (GBR) at the end of last year’s WEF circuit.
For her win on Sunday, Moffitt was aboard For Sale 6, an 11-year-old Westphalian mare (For Pleasure x Cassini I) that was purchased from Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum.
“She is definitely not for sale. I’ll be keeping her for quite some time,” Moffitt made clear after her victory. “I have had Sale for about a year and a half. My previous trainer (Laura Kraut) rode her for the first few months that we had her, and then she actually got injured after the Junior Nations’ Cup here at WEF last year. This is her first big class back, so we are very excited with how she jumped. It took her a little bit to get back into things. We were a little worried, but I think it is safe to say she is back.”
Moffitt previously won her first CSI 2* grand prix in Knokke, Belgium and stepped up in the summer of 2016 to compete in some of the CSI 5* Global Champions League events. The rider decided to skip college and pursue her riding career full-time, but has remained an amateur as she transitions to the bigger classes. With the new addition of the CSI 2* events to complement the five-star competition at this year’s WEF, Moffitt had the perfect opportunity to jump some different horses and gain valuable experience.
“I have a few five-star horses right now, and I was a little frustrated that I could not jump those classes this week, but it was nice that I was able to use my 1.45-1.50m horses,” Moffitt noted. “I get excited to be able to use them and have a goal for them. I think that’s really nice to have the two-star going along with the five-star.”
Moffitt’s main goal for the circuit is to qualify for week 11’s $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5*. She has also been selected as a member of the British team for week eight’s $150,000 FEI Nations’ Cup.
Another top young rider in the class on Sunday, Lucas Porter (19) splits his year between the U.S. and Holland, coached by reigning World Champion Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED). For his second place finish, Porter was aboard B Once Z, a 13-year-old Zangersheide mare (Baloubet du Rouet x Lavaletto) that he found from Katharina Offel (UKR) at the start of 2015.
“She is definitely the best horse that I have ever ridden,” Porter proclaimed. “She has such a big heart; she is so quick against the clock, and she is such a trier. I have never sat on a horse that has this much faith in herself. She is just the perfect horse for a young rider like me.”
In the jump-off, Porter explained that he lost his stirrup, which cost him the small fraction of time that divided first and second place. The rider was also happy to have the opportunity to jump in the 2* division, however, and was happy with his result.
“The two-star and five-star combination has worked out perfectly,” stated Porter. “It keeps the number of riders and horses in the classes exactly where they should be. It also creates more opportunity to make the two-star grand prix and the five-star grand prix each go at an exciting time where the majority of the show can come watch. Even though I’m not doing the biggest competition at the show, I still have a primetime showing. It makes it a pleasure for everyone involved.”
At 29 years old, third place finisher Andrew Welles felt like the senior to his counterparts in the top three on Sunday, but he was happy for the opportunity to use his veteran mount Boo van het Kastanjehof in the CSI 2* competition. Welles has ridden the 16-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Pachat II) for the past seven years after purchasing her from his best friend, Hardin Towell.
“She is the most special horse I have ever had,” Welles stated. “She is owned by my father, who has been the biggest supporter of my career. At 16 years old, she feels like she did when she was nine. She is having an absolute ball. I’m really just enjoying each class with her right now. It has been a lot of fun to have her back going in the big ring this year. She has done three grand prix classes, and she has been double clear in all three, so we will take it.”
Adding his experience of the first concurrent two-star and five-star events at WEF, Welles added, “I think it is phenomenal. I give huge credit to the organizing committee for putting this on. I think it gave a great opportunity for younger riders and younger horses, or older horses like mine, to have a division that really suits them. It also gave a lot of the five-star riders the opportunity to take a little pressure off of their horses to not have to qualify out of 100 horses in the grand prix qualifier. Granted, the better riders always tend to rise to the top, but there is still something to be said for that.”
Minikus and Zephyr Are Unbeatable in Suncast® 1.50m
The USA’s Todd Minikus continued his winning streak aboard Wyndmont’s Zephyr at the 2017 WEF, securing the pair’s second win of week five, and their fourth consecutive win of the WEF circuit, in Sunday’s $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic.
Fifty-one entries contested the first round course set by Robert Ellis, with ten advancing to the jump-off and seven double clear rounds. Minikus and Zephyr smoothly navigated the short course in the winning time of 35.98 seconds. Conor Swail (IRL) and Finca Horses’ Flower finished second in 36.38 seconds. Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Artisan Farms’ Brighton placed third in 36.61 seconds, and Eric Lamaze (CAN) and the Chacco Kid Group’s Chacco Kid rounded out the top four in 37.06 seconds.
“It was kind of a fast rider ‘Who’s Who’ in the jump-off with riders like Kent, Conor, and Eric,” Minikus continued. “I thought it was going to be fast, and it ended being blistering, really. That was a very fast round. It seemed like everything came up nice for me, and I was able to just keep going and going, so I am pretty happy with it.”
With each win, Minikus is gaining confidence in Zephyr’s ability and getting to know the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Landor S x Calvados) better. Owner Ronnie Beard purchased Zephyr from Great Britain’s Peter Charles five years ago after the gelding was named best seven-year-old in Spain that year and has also enjoyed watching the partnership excel. Dorman brought along the horse, but he had almost a year off.
“With that rest, he has just come back into his old self again,” Beard said.
Minikus also rides Wyndmont’s Valinski S. Beard compared, “They are both careful horses, and I think Todd challenges them enough with the pace. I think that after slowly bringing them along, they are ready for it, and I think Todd is the person to do it with them.”
As for Minikus, who only rides the Wyndmont horses at the show and leaves their training to Beard and Dorman at home, piloting different horses is nothing new.
“I have ridden so many horses in my life that there is not much that I have not seen or felt at this point,” said the veteran competitor. “It does not take long for me to adapt to different horses really. I like that challenge of getting on new horses. When you are as old as I am, you don’t need much practice!”
Also competing in the International Arena on Sunday, McKayla Langmeier and Jane Clark’s Whistler topped the $10,000 Hollow Creek Farm Medium Junior Jumper Classic.
Jane Gaston and Because Top Hunt Ltd. Amateur-Owner Hunter Over 35
Jane Gaston of The Plains, VA and her own Because continued their championship streak in the Hunt Ltd. Amateur-Owner Hunter Over 35 division during week five. The pair won all four over fences classes with scores of 88, 87, 88, and 88, and placed fifth in the under saddle class. Gaston and Because have been champions of the division for three weeks in a row, also winning the title during weeks three and four.
“He’s been fabulous every week,” Gaston explained. “He comes out and tries hard every day. We’ve had him a year now, and he just settled right in to being a hunter. He did the First Years last year and is an awesome horse.”
Because is a 2007 KWPN stallion by Verdi that Gaston purchased through Daniel Geitner. Both Gaston and trainer Kelley Farmer have had tremendous success on the horse since taking over the ride, earning many coveted tri-color ribbons during the 2016 fall indoor finals circuit.
“He’s just really great to be around,” Gaston continued. “He makes a solid effort no matter where you put him or how you’re getting there. I appreciate that in a horse.”
Becky Gochman of Palm Beach, FL and Catch Me, owned by Gochman Sport Horses LLC, captured the reserve title. The pair placed second and third over fences and second in the under saddle. Gochman has been a strong contender in the Hunt Ltd. Amateur-Owner Hunters Over 35 throughout WEF. She and Catch Me were named champions of the division during week two, and earned the reserve honors during weeks one and three.
Catch Me, a coming ten-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Casiro, is also highly decorated. The grey gelding with a striking jumping style was named 2016 USEF Horse of the Year Awards after an extremely successful year with Scott Stewart in the Second Year Green Working Hunters.
The 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival continues with its highly anticipated World Championship Hunter Rider week on February 15-19, 2017. For full results and more information, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Wellington, FL – February 10, 2017 – Todd Minikus (USA) and Wyndmont’s Zephyr continued their winning form on Friday, February 10, at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL, with a top finish in the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m speed class following back-to-back victories in week three.
2012 Olympic course designer Robert Ellis (GBR) set the track for 50 entries in Friday’s CSI 5* edition of the 1.45m competition, clocking 19 clear rounds. Minikus and Zephyr were the winners with their time of 57.52 seconds. Kristen Vanderveen (USA) and Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili finished second in 58.12 seconds, and Yuri Mansur (BRA) guided Louise Weber’s Cula Lou V to third place in 58.18 seconds.
Minikus and Zephyr, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Landor S x Calvados) won week three’s $35,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m and $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m speed classes just two days apart. Zephyr then had a week off and returned to the ring fresh and ready to go on Friday.
“He feels good. They did not jump him during the week,” said Minikus, who rides Zephyr at the ring and leaves the gelding’s training duties to the team at Wyndmont. “I gave him a little school yesterday in the FEI, and that was it.
“I didn’t get to watch many go today because I was doing the 1.35m and some other classes,” Minikus continued. “I think my turn to the skinny (jump) was probably what made my time. He actually slipped a little bit in the turn, but I think it shocked him into jumping the skinny clear, so it helped.”
Minikus and the team at Wyndmont, which includes trainers Ronnie Beard and Michael Dorman, also made the decision to change Zephyr’s bridle this week to help his turning ability.
“He was a little awkward turning to the left before, but we changed bridles, and now he seems good in both directions,” Minikus explained. “He feels equal on both sides, so we are getting some small things figured out, and he keeps getting better.”
Minikus and Zephyr will jump again in Sunday’s $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. In addition to top prizes, Illustrated Properties presented special leading rider awards to Minikus as the highest-placed professional rider in the class, and Katie Dinan (USA) as the highest-placed non-professional rider.
Also competing in the International Arena on Friday, the $35,000 1.45m jump-off class was featured for the CSI 2* competitors with 56 entries, and 16 advancing to the jump-off. The win went to Ireland’s Darragh Kenny riding Kerry Anne LLC’s Bolero III, last to go over the short course in 36.38 seconds. Venezuela’s Luis Larrazabal finished second riding San Francisco Stables’ G&C Close Up through the timers in 37.16 seconds. Brett Burlington (USA) and Alden Burlington’s Bluf placed third in 38.28 seconds.
The $6,000 Illustrated Properties 1.40m Speed Challenge concluded the day with a win for Georgina Bloomberg (USA) and Gotham Enterprizes’ South Street. The morning’s $2,500 Engel & Völkers High Amateur-Owner Jumper Power and Speed saw victory for David Oberkircher and Southfields Farm LLC’s Castelino van de Helle.
Elissa Davis Wins Ariat National Adult Medal
Elissa Davis of Cincinnati, OH rode her own Eric to win the Ariat National Adult Medal on Friday morning in the E. R. Grand Mische Hunter Ring. The pair was sitting in third place before the test of the top four competitors where they moved up to take the win. Davis competes primarily in the Adult Equitation classes.
“My horse was a little bit spooky, but it ended up really nice,” said Davis. “My original course didn’t go exactly as planned, but it was really good for the most part. My test felt great though. I was really happy with that. I focused on what the other riders did and tried to do it better.”
Eric is a coming eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Avagon. Davis and the gelding have had several second and third place finishes in the Ariat National Adult Medal during the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), but Friday marked their first win.
“He’s really sweet,” Davis detailed. “He just wants to be a lap dog. I haven’t had him very long, about eight months. I would love to go to Ariat [National Adult Medal] Finals, and I would also love to do the Palm Beach Medal finals here too.”
Gabi Morris of Bridgewater, NJ finished in second place aboard Hypnotic, and Kristina Lyons of Boston, MA rode Country Road to the third place ribbon.
The fifth week of WEF continues on Saturday with the $380,000 Fidelity Investments® Grand Prix CSI 5* featured in the International Arena at 7 p.m. The Lugano Diamonds Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 will award championship and reserve honors in the Rost Arena. For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Todd Minikus and Babalou 41 (Photo Credit: Ann Mari Daley)
Wellington, FL (February 8, 2017) — Sunday, February 5, 2017 proved an excellent day at the office for Todd Minikus and Babalou 41, who together won the FEI $216,000 Ariat CSI 4* Grand Prix to close out week four of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida. Held on the beautiful grass derby field at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, the pair got down to business in their initial go, jumping a clear round amongst a field of 32 riders. In the final three-horse jump-off, they again made quick work of the competition by putting in another clear trip, securing the win.
“As riders we were lucky today; we had two nice Grand Prix classes that we could participate in,” Minikus said. Earlier that same afternoon, he jumped 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Valinski S in the $160,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Wellington CSI3*-W at the Palm Beach Masters at Deeridge Farms. After making a quick venue change, he produced stellar results at the FEI $216,000 Ariat CSI 4* Grand Prix. Spain’s Sergio Alvaraz-Moya claimed second place in the Ariat CSI 4* Grand Prix with G&C Unicstar D’Laumone, and U.S. young rider, 21-year-old Jennifer Gates, finished third with Pumped Up Kicks.
Minikus and Babalou 41, a 12-year-old Oldenburg mare (Balou du Rouet x Silvio I) owned by Two Swans Farm, demonstrated their combined world-class talent and experience in the Ariat CSI 4* Grand Prix, clocking the win at 38.79 seconds. For their victory, Minikus was awarded the Village of Wellington Cup and Babalou 41 was presented with the Champion Equine Insurance Jumper Style Award.
“We didn’t have a warm up class, so it was hard for a lot of the horses to come out and be right on their game,” Minikus said of the venue. “You needed a little bit of an experienced horse. The jumps were the size of a proper 4*, and maybe there wasn’t a lot of difficulty as far as riding questions, but they were proper dimensions and horses had to jump. It was difficult enough, and we had beautiful weather,” he continued. “That field is beautiful when you stand up there on the hill and look out. This was always the best polo field in maybe the world, and the footing still seems quite nice.”
The Winter Equestrian Festival, which runs through April 2, 2017 and is held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, is the largest and longest-running hunter/jumper show circuit in the world, with several million dollars in prize money at stake. As Minikus and his team of elite horses continue into the fifth week of competition of the season – holding numerous blue ribbons already – spectators and competitors alike will be on the lookout for what else Team Minikus has in store.
When not competing nationally and internationally, FEI Nations Cup veteran Todd Minikus offers sales and training services just minutes from the Winter Equestrian Festival show grounds. Minikus is a U.S. Pan American Games Team Bronze Medalist with well over 100 Grand Prix wins to his credit. Follow the excitement of Team Minikus on Facebook and Instagram @Todd_Minikus, or visit www.ToddMinikusShowJumping.com.
Team Effort for Stellar and Emma Kurtz in Bruno DelGrange Large Junior Hunter 16-17 Division
Wellington, FL – February 5, 2017 – Todd Minikus (USA) and Babalou 41 concluded week four of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) with a victory in Sunday’s $216,000 Ariat® Grand Prix CSI 4*, held on the beautiful grass derby field at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. Minikus topped a three-horse jump-off over Olympian Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) and G&C Unicstar de l’Aumone in second, and young rider Jennifer Gates (USA) riding Pumped Up Kicks for third.
Course designer Steve Stephens (USA) wrapped up his duties for week four with the highlight grand prix event at PBIEC’s Equestrian Village, also home to the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival. Thirty-two entries started over Stephens’ first round course, and three were able to advance to the jump-off.
First to jump clear in round one, and first to jump off, Jennifer Gates guided Evergate Stable’s Pumped Up Kicks through the short course in a steady time of 51.28 seconds, incurring two time faults to earn the third place prize.
Sergio Alvarez Moya was next to go with G&C Farm’s Unicstar de l’Aumone, clearing the jump-off track in 40.30 seconds. Last to go, Minikus and Two Swans Farm’s Babalou 41 took the win, racing through the timers in 38.79 seconds.
Minikus was awarded the Village of Wellington Cup, and Babalou 41 earned the Champion Equine Insurance Jumper Style Award, presented by Laura Fetterman. The 12-year-old Oldenburg mare (Balou du Rouet x Silvio I) showed her experience of competing around the world by heading onto the impressive field for the first time and putting in two faultless efforts.
“This was hard because they had to walk out here for the first time and be right on their game,” Minikus stated. “You needed a little bit of an experienced horse, so it worked out for us. This was a 4*, and I think it was built as a proper 4*. It was difficult enough, and we had beautiful weather. That field is beautiful when you stand up there on the hill and look out there. This was always the best polo field in maybe the world, and the footing still seems quite nice.”
G&C Unicstar de l’Aumone is just nine years old, but the Selle Francais mare (Ninio de Rox x Timorrak des Isles) has experience winning on the grass. She and Moya topped two Sparkassen Youngster Cup Qualifiers at CHIO Aachen in 2016.
“She jumps very good on grass or sand,” Moya noted. “I was in this grand prix seven or eight years ago, and I love the ring. I like the mare very much and I thought it was a really good place for her. She jumped amazing, and I am happy with her.”
Gates earned the Leading Lady Rider Award for week four, presented by Martha Jolicoeur of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, after Sunday’s top finish, and a sixth place in Thursday’s qualifier. She was thrilled with Pumped Up Kicks, her 14-year-old Brandenburg gelding (Levisto x San Juan).
“I am over the moon,” Gates smiled. “I did him in some Under 25 classes last year out on the grass field, and he was amazing. I am ecstatic with how he jumped today. It took an experienced horse for that course, which I definitely had.
“I knew these two were going to be faster than me, so my plan was to try and have a clear round and put the pressure on a tiny bit in case they had a rail, which of course they did not,” Gates continued. “This past Thursday I was sixth in the WEF Challenge Cup qualifier, and that was my biggest accomplishment with this horse so far, so to come out here and be third was a huge deal. I am thrilled to be third in great company.”
Competing on Sunday in the International Arena on the main show grounds at PBIEC, Luciana Gonzalez Guerra and Guadalupe Gonzalez’s Star Light won the $10,000 SJHOF High Junior Jumper Classic, presented by Sleepy P Ranch. Abbie Sweetnam and Chadburn Holdings’ Parco topped the $10,000 Hollow Creek Farm Medium Junior Jumper Classic, and Alexandra Markarian and Bandro were victorious in the $10,000 Equiline Medium Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic.
Team Effort for Stellar and Emma Kurtz in Bruno DelGrange Large Junior Hunter 16-17 Division
Emma Kurtz of Wellington, FL and Stellar won the championship in the Bruno DelGrange Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division on Sunday morning. The pair won the stake and the handy class, placed third and fourth over fences, and fourth under saddle. Week four was Kurtz’s second time showing Stellar.
Stellar, a coming seven-year-old Hanoverian mare by Quintender, is owned and trained by Holly Orlando. It was Orlando’s six-year-old daughter, Logan, who led the mare in for the presentation photo alongside Kurtz.
“She’s very sweet,” Orlando explained. “We enjoy having her in the barn and taking her to the ring. She’s a first year horse so I’ll show her some, and Emma will show her some. My sister, Heather Hays, also helps train her. It’s a team effort for Stellar.”
“She’s a First Year horse, so she’s a little green,” Kurtz added. “She’s just figuring it out. They said this was only her second time jumping 3’6″. She’s amazing; she’s so brave, has a great jump, and is really fun to ride.”
Raleigh Hiler of Sudbury, MA rode her own Chapman ET to reserve honors in the division. The pair earned first, second, fourth, and fifth place ribbons over fences, and a second place ribbon under saddle. Chapman ET is a nine-year-old warmblood gelding.
The 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival continues with its fifth week of competition, sponsored by Fidelity Investments®, on February 8-12, 2017. For full results and more information, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Todd Minikus aboard Zephyr (Photo courtesy of JRPR)
Wellington, FL (February 2, 2017) — Another week of competition at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida proved to be another week of blue ribbons for leading show jumper Todd Minikus. Minikus kicked off week three of WEF by clinching first place in the FEI $35,000 Douglas Ellian 1.45m, then continued his victory streak in the FEI Illustrated Properties $35,000 1.45m, the $200 seven-year-old Developing Jumpers, and in three hunter classes.
Minikus won the $35,000 Douglas Ellian 1.45m speed class against 46 competitors aboard 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Zephyr (by Landor S out of Tobelia), owned by Wyndmont, Inc. Minikus, the last to go in the jump-off, cleared the course to victory, crossing the timers in just 63.95 seconds. Minikus reflected, “Once I found a nice pace to number one, I just stayed on that rhythm, and Zephyr was great. We changed bridles today, and I liked the way I could slow down after pushing him. It was a nice round, and as always, if you are able to win a class here in Wellington it is always a good win because there are so many entries.”
Minikus and Zephyr went on to take first place in the FEI $35,000 1.45m class sponsored by Illustrated Properties. Of the 50 entries, only 12 went clear and returned for the jump-off. Minikus skillfully piloted Zephyr around the demanding course with an over two-second lead, clocking in at 64.36 seconds.
In addition to riding experienced jumpers, Minikus is well known for bringing young show jumpers up through the levels. This week, Minikus showed the up-and-coming Oldenburg stallion Lord Calador (Lordanos x Konstanze, Chacco-Blue) to first place in the $200 seven-year-old Developing Jumpers class. Lord Calador is owned by Melissa Bilodeau, who discovered him in 2013 at the Winter Mixed Sales Auction in Vechta, Germany.
Minikus also demonstrated his versatility as a rider by clinching three hunter class wins with Sandrino. The duo took first place in the $850 Green Hunter 3’6” Stake, $600 Green Conformation Hunter, and the $850 Green Conformation Hunter Stakes. Sandrino is owned by Two Goals Farm and Karen Lucian.
Minikus will continue to compete at the Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center for the rest of the winter show season, which concluded at the end of March. The series is the largest and longest-running hunter/jumper show circuit in the world.
When not competing nationally and internationally, Todd Minikus offers sales and training services just minutes from Wellington, Florida’s Winter Equestrian Festival show grounds. Follow the excitement of Team Minikus on Facebook and Instagram @Todd_Minikus, or visit www.ToddMinikusShowJumping.com.
Jef Lauwers Is Champion in Adult Amateur Hunters 18-35 Section A
Wellington, FL – January 27, 2017 – Todd Minikus (USA) and Wyndmont’s Zephyr jumped to their second win during week three of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) on Friday, topping the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m speed class at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL.
Belgium’s Luc Musette set the track for 53 entries in Friday’s 1.45m with 12 clear rounds. Carrying on their momentum from a win in Wednesday’s $35,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m, Minikus and Zephyr clocked the fastest time of 64.36 seconds.
Emily Moffitt (GBR) and Poden Farms’ Zagahorn finished second in 66.47 seconds. Laura Chapot (USA) aboard her own and McLain Ward’s Quointreau un Prince placed third in 68.33 seconds, and Richie Moloney (IRL) riding Ypaja Yando ended fourth in 68.45 seconds.
Zephyr, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Landor S x Calvados), is a catch-ride for Minikus and a new mount this winter. Though the team at Wyndmont takes care of preparations and Minikus only rides the horse at the show, he feels that their partnership is developing well.
“He seems like he is getting more confident in my style of riding. He feels a little more flexible through his body, and he has had a great week,” Minikus stated. “A horse you push is always faster than a horse you pull, and you definitely push him along. I like that style of riding. I have only ridden him for a few weeks now, so I think he is starting to understand my style, or maybe I am starting to understand his style. Either way, it is going well.”
Minikus changed plans a bit while on course, but made his horse’s large stride worked to his advantage in the speed track.
“It looked like there were several options when I walked it, but then as I was going, they did not show themselves as well as I was hoping,” Minikus explained. “Zephyr did a very nice job of turning back on the last combination. He is a little funny turning to the left, but for whatever reason today, he did it quite well. I think that is really where it worked out for me.”
In addition to top prizes, Illustrated Properties presented special leading rider awards to Minikus as the highest-placed professional rider in the class, and Moffitt as the highest-placed non-professional rider.
Also competing in the International Arena on Thursday, Jimmy Torano (USA) and Excellent B were victorious in the $6,000 Illustrated Properties 1.40m speed class. The $6,000 FEI 1.40m was won by Georgina Bloomberg (USA) riding Gotham Enterprizes’ Manodie II H.
Lisbeth Hazoury took top honors in the $2,500 Engel & Völkers High Amateur-Owner Jumper Power and Speed riding Grey van de Castanoschans, owned by Los Establos Sporthorses Corp. Luciana Gonzalez Guerra concluded the day with a win in the $1,500 Sleepy P Ranch High Junior Jumper Power and Speed riding Star Light, owned by Guadalupe Gonzalez.
Jef Lauwers Champion in the Adult Amateur Hunters 18-35 Section A at WEF
Jef Lauwers of Belgium and Cupid, owned by Lindsay Holstead, captured the championship in the Adult Amateur Hunter 18-35 Section A division. The pair earned two blue ribbons, fifth and sixth over fences, and fifth under saddle. Lauwers first rode in the hunters over two years ago with Peter Pletcher of Magnolia, TX. He did not compete much at that time, and has since spent the past two years working in Belgium as an engineer. He returned to the U.S. six weeks ago and has been intently focusing on riding and the hunters.
“Peter asked if I wanted to show. I told him yes, but that I didn’t have a horse,” Lauwers detailed. “Then, Lindsay said I could show her horse. We showed in Texas for two weeks and then came here. This is my first show in Wellington.”
Cupid is a 2009 Holsteiner gelding that Peter Pletcher has primarily shown in the Green Hunter and Performance Hunter divisions.
“He’s a really nice horse,” said Lauwers, “a good jumper, and a good mover. He’s very sweet, likes to show, and likes to jump. The hunters are fun because they’re another way of riding, another way of knowing the horse, and another way of teaching the horse. It was difficult for me to learn because I was not used to having loose reins. I still struggle with it sometimes, but I was lucky today. It’s fun, and Peter is a really nice guy.”
Taking reserve honors was Lili Halterman of New York, NY aboard Cussini, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding. The pair earned a second, two thirds, and a sixth-place finish over fences, and second under saddle to secure the reserve title.
The third week of WEF continues on Saturday with the third “Saturday Night Lights” event of the season, the FEI $130,000 Adequan® Grand Prix CSI 3*. The Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under division will award championship honors for week three in the E. R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring. For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.