American Grand Prix rider Todd Minikus has been showing in Kentucky for over three decades, racking up wins throughout the years. On the opening day of the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, he proved that this year would be no different as he raced to the speedy $5,000 1.45m Open Jumper victory with new mount, Con Capilot.
The Rolex Stadium hosted nearly 250 rounds throughout the opening day of the spring series kick-off. Riders from around the world brought their top mounts to the Bluegrass State, vying for the opportunity to earn the important qualifying points for the Longines Rider Ranking List and the USEF/Rolex Show Jumping Ranking List with the highlight events of the week. Although Wednesday was a warm up for many of the riders, they did not show hesitation as they tackled Richard Jeffery's first week of courses.
"The courses all day were typical of Richard Jeffery-if you rode well and your horse was schooled well you had nice rounds," Minikus said. "If there was a little stone unturned here or there, then it showed up. Quite a few horses made the jump-off in the 1.45m class and it ended up being quite a fast jump-off."
As the second to go in the order, Minikus knew he would have to set a pace that was hard to beat. He was able to cover the ground and traverse the track in 42.680 seconds with Con Capilot, nearly a half of a second ahead of Aaron Vale and Bonzini S.
"I don't know exactly how I shaved off the seconds," Minikus explained. "Con Capilot is a new horse for me, and I don't know him that well. I am still experimenting with him, and I am very proud and happy to have him."
Plum Creek Hollow Farm out of Larkspur, Colorado owns the 12-year-old stallion. Although he is a new mount for Minikus, the veteran rider is hoping to continue building his relationship with the Westphalian and showing him to the top of the leader board.
"It is good that Kentucky reinstated the FEI competition, I think it brings a strong caliber of riders to this venue. I was coming here before it was the Kentucky Horse Park, and when I first came here, it was just grass rings up where the hunter rings are, and they used gas station flags to separate them. There were only a two barns up there; it is great to see how much it has grown.
Minikus beat out Aaron Vale and Bonzini S who ranked just behind with a faultless effort in 43.253 seconds. Benjamin Meredith and Rivierra took the third place in 44.006 seconds.
During the $5,000 1.40m Open Jumpers, 70 horse and rider combinations competed for the top prize, but New Zealand's Sharn Wordley and Popstar Lozonais showcased their speed to take the win. Nearing the end of the class, Wordley knew he would have to make a move, although he did not entirely release the clutch, Popstar Lozonais blazed the way, completing the speed track in 66.478 seconds, more than three seconds quicker than fellow contenders, even with an added stride to the water and last fence.
"He's a really cool horse," Wordley smiled. "He wasn't even going full throttle out there. He's really good turning, and it was a long class, so I didn't get to see how fast the winners went. I just kind of had to gauge it. It's hard to gauge it because he turns so quick - sometimes it's hard to really gauge how fast you're going with him. For these types of classes, when he's clean he's hard to beat; he's really fast."
Worldey continued, "I think that having the FEI competition back in Kentucky gives this horse show a different feeling, something that was missing from the ambiance over the last couple of years. I am definitely aiming towards the $34,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic on Thursday, and the $85,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix on Saturday. I am really excited to show Casper, a new horse I bought from Andrew Bourns, during tomorrow night's class, it's my first big class on him."
Roberto Teran and Farina strode in during the final moments of the class to sneak into the second place behind Wordley with a faultless time of 69.699 seconds. Ramiro Quintana finished third aboard Bialda.
Source: Press release from Phelpsmediagroup.com.
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